“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:
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. :)
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.