Lydia Newman was a remarkable black female inventor who was the first to patent a synthetic-bristled hairbrush in the United States. A patent has been granted to her, making her the third black woman to do so ever. As a feminist activist, she is well-known for her work during the early twentieth century’s women’s voting rights struggle.
Depending on the source, Lyda Newman was born sometime between 1865 and 1885 in the state of Ohio. Because women, particularly Black women, were viewed with contempt, nothing is known about Newman’s personal life. While she lived in New York City for much of her life, census records indicate that she worked as a hairdresser for the majority of it.
As a black woman and as a hairdresser, Newman’s decision to modify the design of the hairbrush was informed by her own personal experiences. She wished for a more hygienic and efficient method of brushing her own hair. Despite the fact that most hairbrushes were made of animal hair at the time, the material was far too soft to successfully manage the thicker texture of African-American hair. Alternative materials such as synthetic fibers were utilized by Newman, as they were both more durable and easier to clean. Each row of bristles was evenly spaced, and there were open holes to allow debris to be cleared away from the hair and into a recessed chamber at the end of the brush. In order to clean the compartment, a button could be pressed in the back. On November 15, 1898, Newman was granted a patent for her innovation.
Hairbrush Design Concept Registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
Hairbrushes became less expensive and easier to manufacture as a result of Lyda Newman’s invention, which revolutionized the hair care industry. Aside from that, she opened the path for two other black entrepreneurs who went on to revolutionize hair care and establish a whole business. “Madam C.J. Walker,” Sarah Breedlove McWilliams Walker, and Marjorie Joyner were two of the women who were involved in the incident.
In addition to her inventions, Newman was well-known for her participation in the early twentieth-century women’s suffrage campaign. She was a prominent organizer of a black branch of the Woman Suffrage Party, which worked to ensure that women had the legal right to vote in the United States elections.