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“Mary Beatrice Davidson Kenner”

A Web Project
By Anisha
High School Students from New-York Historical Society
Mary Beatrice Davidson Kenner

About this Project:

I am very passionate about menstrual history because, for centuries, periods have been pointed at as a sign of female impurity and weakness. Menstruation is an extremely taboo topic. In fact, some scholars even trace back the word taboo to mean menstrual blood. I started researching menstruation two years ago and have done history projects and written articles about it.

I started researching Mary Beatrice Davidson Kenner when I joined the New-York Historical Society’s teen scholars program in which each scholar makes a website on an underrepresented woman in history. I wanted to continue researching menstrual history and stumbled upon Mary Kenner—a woman with a remarkable story and massive impact on menstruation today. Despite creating the first sanitary pad and having five patents (more than any other African American woman to this day!), Kenner never profited from her inventions due to the racist sentiments of the time period. I hope to give her story a voice through my project and shine a light on not only her personal accomplishments but her influence on women today. Her invention laid the foundation for the sanitary pad which is a crucial menstrual hygiene product in today’s world.

My website has three sections—a home page with a quote, a photo of Kenner, and a diagram of the sanitary belt; an information page with a description of Kenner’s life and her inventions; and a sources page. I really enjoyed researching Kenner and creating the website. I hope that this project will teach people about a brilliant woman who despite immense discrimination, pursued her passion for inventing through which she improved the lives of all menstruators.

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Feedback from the Judges:

Dipali Aphale 👏 Design Strategist (UX, Strategy, Product, Facilitation)) at IBM — Emoti-Con Judge
I appreciate and respect that this project addresses menstrual health and the historical innovations that increased equity for female reproductive health. Your website is informative, and for future iterations could bring in more color and interaction to engage an audience! Great job.

Jackson Powell 👏 Sr. UX Designer at Providence Healthcare — Emoti-Con Judge
I am such a fan of this project! Being passionate about research, learning, and history I really enjoyed learning about someone I have never heard of who was so amazing. Thank you for bringing Ms. Kenner back to life for me and others to remember and appreciate. It is sad that even today, we still fight the problem of racism in America that she faced in the 1920s and throughout her life.

I'm impressed that you are interested in History at such a young age and can't wait to see what you do next and in the future!

Maybe one day you'll create an interactive experience for museums to share amazing people in our history like Mary Beatrice Davidson Kenner. :)

Ashley Smallwood 👏 Director, TC NEXT at Teachers College, Columbia University — Emoti-Con Judge
This is such an important project—you're de-stigmatizing menstruation and highlighting the many accomplishments of a Black woman who left a mark on history.
Your writing truly stands out; you have excellent sentence structure, vocabulary, and clarity of communication. It made reading the website very enjoyable. I also like the inclusion of the historical advertisement of the sanitary pad.
I'd love to see how you could expand this website and create more hierarchy of information—making it easy for someone visiting to find information about Mary Beatrice Davidson Kenner, her inventions, or the historical context of the time in which she lived.

Thank you for a record-breaking 14th anniversary event! Comments are officially closed until next year.