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HomeGreek PhilosphyAll of the Names She Couldn't Bear – MSU Campus Archaeology Program

All of the Names She Couldn’t Bear – MSU Campus Archaeology Program

A Salty Story

I needed this weblog to be about patents, not Ruth Van Tellingen. Or ought to I name her Ruth Bendel? Or Ruth Elizabeth Thompson? I’m getting forward of myself. Earlier than we delve into Ruth’s life, let’s evaluate the idea of patents as they pertain to archaeology.

As many know, a patent refers to a legally-recognized title on mental property that enables a person or group to regulate the manufacturing and sale of particular designs. Within the U.S. patents, as a authorized idea, prolong again to the late 1600s when some particular person states would grant authorized rights to an thought or invention. Federal interventions on designs and improvements weren’t launched till The Patent Act of 1790. The registration quantity related to a granted patent is commonly printed on objects that grow to be artifacts. These numbers present a multi-tool for archaeological interpretations. With them, we are able to typically determine a function or maker of an artifact and a interval for the use and manufacturing of an merchandise. Typically, patents permit us to find sudden insights into our social pasts. 

The CAP Patent that Gave Paws

A couple of yr in the past, I used to be sitting within the CAP lab researching a ceramic bear. The merchandise was uncovered throughout our 2020 Service Street Development Undertaking (learn extra right here). We had plans to make use of the artifact in a convention presentation masking Youngsters’s lives on MSU’s campus (learn extra right here).

Ceramic bear condiment dispenser. Use your mouse to rotate the item. Shaker holes are seen on the again of the top. Ruth Van Tellingen is seen in writing on the bottom.

When looking the patent for the bear I discovered that it isn’t merely an ornamental merchandise, however quite a intelligent and authentic design for 2 interlocking condiment dispensers (salt, pepper, oil, and many others.) (learn extra right here). One thing else caught my consideration– one thing aside from the unconventional nickname, “Huggers”. It was the title related to the patent, filed on Might sixth, 1947… The title belonged to… a girl? 

Ruth Van Tellingen Bendel’s 1951 “Huggers” patent.

Ruth Van Tellingen Bendel. Let me be clear. I used to be not stunned a girl had invented a brand new design or kindled an authentic idea. My eyebrows have been raised as a result of the thought was documented and credited to her. Archeologists, like anybody wanting into the previous, typically battle to seek out and confirm variety prior to now, particularly in terms of traditionally marginalized or oppressed teams. With out identifiers like patents, it may be tough, if not inconceivable, to determine who created one thing. Objects themselves shouldn’t have social identities– people assign them. And since restricted and privileged teams have traditionally held the pen that writes the Western narrative, many historic accounts overestimate the contributions of sure people to society. In the identical stroke, the experiences of individuals exterior of probably the most privileged circles have been silenced or ignored (1). 

Girl with a Peppered Previous

So what can we all know concerning the creator of this patent? Ruth Elizabeth Thompson was born in Hinsdale, Illinois, in 1910. Census information inform us she married Oscar Van Tellingen, a salesman from Iowa, and assumed the position of a “Housewife and business artist” by the age of 30 (see census knowledge under).

1930 census type. Oscar H.M. and Ruth E. Van Tellingen shared their house with Clyde N. Hale, {an electrical} technician from Nebraska.
Ruth’s occupation on the 1930 census. We all know that this line was crammed out by her husband, Oscar, due to the star subsequent to his title within the earlier picture. Along with claiming a extra conventional position of housewife, she was additionally recognized as a business artist.

Her artistry, together with a number of kids’s books, acquired combined opinions (2). Whereas lively in illustration, she additionally commissioned collectible figurines created for the Chicago Royal China and Novelty Firm (3), together with the a number of Huggers in numerous animal kinds. Her interlocking bear design was conceived in 1947, however not submitted for a patent till 1949. Our bear lacks the title “Bendel,” which Ruth added after her second marriage to Victor T. Bendel, in 1948. It’s due to this fact possible one of many first bears off the manufacturing line.

Ruth’s shaker patent, granted in 1951, preceded the girls’s liberation motion (4) in the US by greater than a decade. Ladies first patented a product within the U.S. in 1809, however as of 2020, the proportion of self-identified girls contributing to annual patents stays lower than 22% (5; 6). By the point she died in 1986, Ruth had acquired not less than two extra patents, a number of copyrights, and was listed as an writer on a number of books. Between two CAP fellows, we discovered seven names related to Ruth’s life. Even by at this time’s requirements, her mental capital and enigmatic aptitude for distinctive titles could be thought-about outstanding.

Time to Shake It Up

Need to discover patents your self? Listed here are two attainable strategies:

  1. To look patents via the U.S. authorities portal navigate to:


Within the “Question” field kind within the patent quantity. 

For instance, Ruth’s patent no. 2,560,755.

The touchdown web page ought to present a patent quantity and problem date. To view the scanned file, click on “Pictures” on the backside. Take note of that almost all patents are a number of pages lengthy, so that you’ll need to obtain greater than the touchdown web page of the PDF. Additionally it is worthwhile to notice that some patents could have a quantity in entrance of them, which signifies the kind of patent represented.

  • Google now affords a patent look-up that’s even simpler:


Sort within the title or quantity and something affiliated with a person ought to present. Between patents and copyrights, we discovered the next names related to our Ruth to stamp her mental and creative endeavors. Give ‘er a go and see what you discover.

Ruth Elizabeth Thompson.

Ruth E. Van Tellingen.

Ruth Thompson Van Tellingen.

Ruth Van Tellingen Bendel.

Ruth V. Bendel.

Ruth Bendel.

Ruth Thompson Bendel.


  1. Trouillot, Michel-Rolph (1995) Silencing the Previous: Energy and the Manufacturing of Historical past. Beacon Press, Boston, Massachusetts. Hyperlink
  2. https://www.beliefs.illinois.edu/bitstream/deal with/2142/12430/bulletincenterchv00007i00009_opt.pdf?sequence=2&isAllowed=y
  3. https://books.google.com/books?id=2SYhAQAAIAAJ&pg=RA1-PA82&lpg=RA1-PA82&dq=successful+horse+Ruth+van+tellingen&supply=bl&ots=Y5fGWVdqt6&sig=ACfU3U3Bvn5pQDB9f80e5VT5C3aEyl9OwQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjg27q31tT0AhVVkYkEHYz2DeAQ6AF6BAgcEAM#v=onepage&q=winningpercent20horsepercent20Ruthpercent20vanpercent20tellingen&f=false
  4. https://www.britannica.com/occasion/womens-movement
  5. https://www.uspto.gov/about-us/news-updates/uspto-releases-updated-study-participation-women-us-innovation-economy-0
  6. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-02298-9


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