#mygirlsquad / Behind the Business / Black History / Business / Culture

Women you should know: Ellen Eglin

Ellen Eglin was born in Washington, D.C in 1849.

Little is know about her but she is still a woman that you need to know. Especially if you are planning to do some laundry this weekend.

In 1800s, she invented a special type of clothes-wringer which was a machine that had two rollers in a frame that was connected to a crank. Clothes would be fed in between the two rollers and as the crank was turned the clothes would have the water pressed out of them.


This invention came at a time when there were not a lot of ways to wash clothes other than with your hands. Eglin decided to sell her patent to a “white person interested in manufacturing the product” for a very low price. The buyer went on to reap considerable financial awards

In the April 1890 issue of Woman Inventor, Eglin was quoted as saying “You know I am black and if it was known that a Negro woman patented the invention, white ladies would not buy the wringer. I was afraid to be known because of my color in having it introduced into the market that is the only reason.”

Though much is unknown about the events of Eglin’s life, she went on to remain a government worker.

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