Mary Kenner

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Mary Beatrice Davidson
Mary Beatrice Davidson Kenner died 2006.jpg
Born17 May 1912
Died13 January 2006
NationalityUnited States of America
Known forinventing

Mary Beatrice Davidson Kenner (May 17, 1912 – January 13, 2006) was an African-American inventor most noted for her development of the sanitary belt. Racial discrimination prevented its adoption for thirty years.


She was born in Monroe, North Carolina and credited her father, Sidney Nathaniel Davidson (June 1890-November 1958), with giving her a thirst for discovering things.[1] Her sister, Mildred Davidson Austin Smith (1916–1993), was also an inventor.


She invented the sanitary belt with moisture-proof napkin pocket. The sanitary napkin wasn't used until 1956, thirty years after she had first invented it. The company that first showed interest in her invention rejected it after they discovered that she was an African American woman. Between 1956 and 1987 she received five patents for her household and personal item creations.[2] Mary Kenner's sister, Mildred Davison, was also a prolific inventor; they shared the patent of the toilet tissue holder. [3] The patent number was US 4354643 , dated October 19, 1982.[4][5] There was another invention popular in the 80s, a back washer that could be mounted on the shower or bathtub wall.[6] This invention was patented in 1987 patent number 4696068 [7]. She also patented the carrier attachment for an invalid walker in 1959.[1]

Other work[edit]

She worked as a professional floral arranger and had her own business in the field of Washington DC area.[8]


  1. ^ a b "Mary Beatrice Davidson Kenner". Pioneering Women Herstory. Retrieved 30 April 2015.
  2. ^ David, Lenwood. "Women Inventors". NCPedia. Retrieved 30 April 2015.
  3. ^ "[Women's History Month] Meet Mary and Mildred Davidson, inventors of sanitary belt, tissue holder". Face2Face Africa. 2018-03-14. Retrieved 2019-03-13.
  4. ^ "Celebrating African American Women Inventors". Colorblind Magazine. Retrieved 30 April 2015.
  5. ^ Bellis, Mary. "Black History Month - African American Patent Holders - J to K to L". Retrieved 30 April 2015.
  6. ^ "Mary B. Kenner Inventions, Patents and Patent Applications - Justia Patents Search". Retrieved 2019-03-17.
  7. ^ "Mary B. Kenner Inventions, Patents and Patent Applications - Justia Patents Search". Retrieved 2019-03-17.
  8. ^ Carter Sluby, Patricia. "African American Brilliance" (PDF). NCDCR. Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 June 2013. Retrieved 30 April 2015.

Further reading[edit]

  • Blashfield, Jean F. (1996) Women inventors. Minneapolis: Capstone Press. Vol. 4, pp. 11–16
  • Jeffrey, Laura S. (September 1, 2013) Amazing American Inventors of the 20th Century. Enslow Publishers, pp 29–35
  • Sluby, Patricia C. (2004) The Inventive Spirit of African Americans: Patented Ingenuity. Westport, Conn: Praeger, pp 147–150
  • Women Inventors. Women Inventors | NCpedia, 2011,