Amanda Jones (inventor)
Early Life and Education
Amanda Jones was born in East Bloomfield, New York, on October 19, 1835, the fourth child of Henry and Mary Alma (Mott) Jones. She attended district schools in East Bloomfield and Black Rock, New York; she completed normal school training at the East Aurora Academy in New York and began teaching at the age of fifteen.
Literary Publications - 1860s
She quit teaching in 1854 after her first poem was published by the Ladies' Repository of Cincinnati. In 1861, she published Ulah, and Other Poems; a second book of verse, Poems, was published in 1867. Her health had been fragile since contracting tuberculosis in 1859; after the publication of Poems, she spent a year recuperating at the home of her widowed mother in Wisconsin.
Influence of Spiritualism
Influenced by the writings of Thomas Dick and the spiritualism movement, Jones became a convert to spiritualism in 1854 and believed herself to be a medium. In 1869, believing that the spirits wanted her there, she moved to Chicago, where she wrote for a number of periodicals, including Western Rural, Universe, Interior, and Bright Sides.
Patents and Inventions - 1872-1880
In 1872, Jones developed a vacuum canning process for preserving food, with the help of Professor Leroy C. Cooley of Albany, who was connected by marriage with one of her sisters. The following year she obtained five patents relating to her process, of which two listed her as sole inventor. Again following the advice of the spirits she communicated with, she developed another invention, an oil burner, which she patented in 1880. However, her attempts to establish businesses based on her inventions were unsuccessful, and she returned to writing, publishing A Prairie Idyll in 1882.
Founding of Women's Canning and Preserving Company - 1890
A strong supporter of women's rights and suffrage, she founded the Women's Canning and Preserving Company in Chicago in 1890, which employed only women. In an address to her employees, Jones said that "This is a woman's industry. No man will vote our stock, transact our business, pronounce on women's wages, supervise our factories. Give men whatever work is suitable, but keep the governing power. This is a business training school for working women - you with all the rest. Here is a mission, let it be fulfilled." When this venture failed in 1893, she left Chicago for Junction City, Kansas, where two of her sisters lived.
Jones continued to work with both of her inventions, obtaining patents on the canning process in 1903, 1905, and 1906, and additional patents relating to the oil burner in 1904, 1912, and 1914. She continued to publish occasional literary works, including the Rubaiyat of Solomon and Other Poems in 1905. In 1910, she published her autobiography, A Psychic Autobiography, which focused on her interest in spiritualism. Late in her life, she moved to Brooklyn, New York, to pursue business interests, where she died of influenza in 1914. She was listed in Who's Who in America for 1912-13 and in Woman's Who's Who in America for 1914-15.
- "Jones, Amanda Theodosia," Notable American Women: A Biographical Dictionary, Volumes 1-3: 1607-1950. Edward T. James, Janet Wilson James, Paul Boyer, Eds. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1974, vol. 2, pp.284-5.
- Amanda Jones, A Psychic Autobiography, Kessinger Publishing, LLC, 2003, p. 416.
- "Jones, Amanda Theodosia," Notable American Women, vol. 2, pp.284-5.