Amanda Jones (inventor)

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Amanda Theodosia Jones
AmandaJones August1879a rescanned.jpg
Jones at age 44 (1879)
Born(1835-10-19)October 19, 1835
East Bloomfield, New York, US
DiedMarch 31, 1914(1914-03-31) (aged 78)
Brooklyn, New York, US
Resting placeRiverside Cemetery, Cleveland, Ohio, US
  • Inventor
  • Poet & author
  • Spiritualist

Amanda Theodosia Jones (October 19, 1835 – March 31, 1914) was an American author and inventor, most noted for inventing a vacuum method of canning called the Jones Process.

Jones was descended from Puritan, Huguenot, Quaker and Methodist ancestors. Her forefathers were among the patriots of the American Revolution. She wrote a number of war poems during the Civil War. These were published, with others, in book form. Ill health for a number of years made it impossible for her to keep up her literary work. Some of her poems appeared in Scribner's Magazine while others were published in the Century, Our Continent, and other journals. She published a volume of verse entitled A Prairie Idyl and Other Poems. She made her home in Chicago, Illinois.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

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.

Influence of spiritualism[edit]

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[edit]

In 1872, Jones developed a vacuum canning process for preserving food, with the help of Professor Leroy C. Cooley of Albany, who was the brother-in-law of her sister Emily. 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.[2] There is one reference (Stanley, Autumn – See Bibliography) that maintains she has a patent for a Ready-Opener Tin Can, but that is the only, unsupported, reference to this patent.

Founding of Women's Canning and Preserving Company – 1890[edit]

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, keep our books, 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."[3] When this venture failed in 1893, she left Chicago for Junction City, Kansas, where two of her sisters lived.

Later life[edit]

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.

Following the Spanish–American War the U.S. Navy began investigating the transition from coal fired ships to oil.[4] In 1904 they released a 489-page report which detailed extensively a comparison between coal and oil.[5] Jones was asked to write a technical review of the report for Engineer: With which is Incorporated Steam Engineering. According to her obituary she was paid liberally for her contribution of four articles in 1904 and 1905.[6] Those articles are online at the HathiTrust:

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.[6][note 1] She was listed in Who's Who in America for 1912–13 and in Woman's Who's Who in America for 1914–15.[2]

She is buried in Riverside Cemetery, Cleveland, Ohio in her brother William's plot.[8]


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.


Jones published six books in her lifetime. All are available online at the Internet Archive.

  1. Ulah: And Other Poems. Jones, Amanda T. Buffalo: H.H. Otis. 1861
  2. Poems. By Amanda T. Jones, Published/Created: New York, Hurd and Houghton, 1867.
  3. A Prairie Idyl, and Other Poems. Published/Created: Chicago, Jansen, McClurg & company, 1882.
  4. Rubáiyát of Solomon, and Other Poems. By Amanda T. Jones; Introduction by J. N. Larned. Published/Created: New York, Alden brothers, 1905.
  5. Poems, 1854–1906, by Amanda T. Jones. Published/Created: New York, Alden Brothers, 1906.
  6. A Psychic Autobiography / by Amanda T. Jones; with introduction by James H. Hyslop. Published/Created: New York: Greaves Publishing Co., c1910.

Ladies Repository of Cincinnati Publications[edit]

Between 1855 and 1864 Jones published frequently in the Ladies Repository. These poems, along with one she published in Overland Monthly and Out West magazine in 1894, are available at the University of Michigan's Making of America Journals digital library.


  1. ^ Most sources say influenza while obituary says pneumonia


  1. ^ Willard, Frances Elizabeth; Livermore, Mary Ashton Rice (1893). A Woman of the Century: Fourteen Hundred-seventy Biographical Sketches Accompanied by Portraits of Leading American Women in All Walks of Life (Public domain ed.). Moulton. pp. 424–.
  2. ^ a b "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.284–85.
  3. ^ Amanda Jones, A Psychic Autobiography, with introduction by James H. Hyslop. Published/Created: New York: Greaves Publishing Co., c1910., p. 414.
  4. ^ "Petroleum and Sea Power - American Oil & Gas Historical Society". Retrieved 31 May 2019.
  5. ^ "Report of the U.S. Naval "liquid fuel" board of tests conducted on the Hohenstein water tube boiler, showing the relative evaporative efficiencies of coal and liquid fuel under forced and natural draft conditions as determined by an extended series of tests". Government Printing Office. 1904. Retrieved 31 May 2019.
  6. ^ a b Obituary:The Junction City Daily Union (Junction City, Kansas), 1 April 1914, page 3.
  7. ^ a b c d The Engineer, with which is incorporated steam engineering. 1881.
  8. ^ James, E.T.; James, J.W.; Boyer, P.S.; Radcliffe College (1971). Notable American Women, 1607-1950: A Biographical Dictionary. 2. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. pp. 1–285. ISBN 9780674627345. Retrieved 31 May 2019.

Further reading[edit]

The following books have articles about Jones:

  • Vare, Ethlie Ann, Greg Ptacek, and Ethlie Ann Vare. 1988. Mothers of Invention: From the Bra to the Bomb: Forgotten Women & Their Unforgettable Ideas. New York: Morrow. (pp. 105–107)
  • Wilson, James Grant, and John Fiske. 1889. Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography. New York [N.Y.]: D. Appleton and Co., Vol. 3, page 463. (Short Bio) (Available Online as full text PDF)
  • Cefrey, Holly. 2003. The Inventions of Amanda Jones: The Vacuum Method of Canning and Food Preservation. New York: PowerKids Press. (Juvenile book)
  • Casey, Susan. 1997. Women Invent: Two Centuries of Discoveries that Have Shaped our World. Chicago, Ill: Chicago Review Press. (pp. 4–5)
  • Altman, Linda Jacobs. 1997. Women Inventors. New York: Facts On File. (pp. 1–11)
  • Macdonald, Anne L. 1992. Feminine Ingenuity: Women and Invention in America. New York: Ballantine Books.
  • McHenry, Robert. 1983. Famous American Women: A Biographical Dictionary from Colonial Times to the Present. New York: Dover. (page 214)
  • James, Edward T., Janet Wilson James, and Paul S. Boyer. 1971. Notable American Women, 1607–1950: A Biographical Dictionary. Cambridge, Mass: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. pp. 284–85.
  • Junod, Suzanne White. "Jones, Amanda Theodosia". American National Biography Online. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 20 Mar 2017.
  • Stanley, Autumn. 1993. Mothers and Daughters of Invention: Notes for a Revised History of Technology. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press. (Page 64) (Only reference to the Ready-Opener Tin Can patent) Online

External links[edit]