Dictionary of US History
|Explorers of the US
|Walker, Madame C. J.
Madam C. J. Walker (December 23, 1867 - May 25, 1919) was an inventor, businesswoman and self-made millionaire. Sarah Breedlove McWilliams C. J. Walker was an African-American who developed many beauty and hair care products that were extremely popular. Madam Walker started her cosmetics business in 1905. Her first product was a scalp treatment that used petrolatum and sulphur. She added Madam to her name and began selling her new "Walker System" door-to-door. Walker soon added new cosmetic products to her line. The products were very successful and she soon had many saleswomen, called "Walker Agents," who sold her products door to door and to beauty salons.
Ruth Graves Wakefield (1905-1977) invented chocolate chips (and chocolate chip cookies) in 1930. Wakefield ran the Toll House Inn in Whitman, Massachusetts. Her new cookie invention was called the "Toll House Cookie." Her original cookies used broken-up bars of semi-sweet chocolate. Her cookbook, "Toll House Tried and True Recipes," was published in 1940.
Washington, Booker T.
Booker Taliafero Washington (April 15?, 1856 - Nov. 15, 1915) was an orator, civil rights activist, professor, writer, and poet. He was born a slave in Virginia, but was freed by Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation (when it went into effect in the South, in 1865). Washington dedicated his life to education as a means of obtaining equality. He founded the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama, and the National Negro Business League.
George Washington (Feb. 22, 1732-December 14, 1799) was a Revolutionary War hero and the first President of the United States; he served two terms as President.
|Waterman, Lewis E.
Lewis E. Waterman was an American inventor and insurance salesman who developed a relatively leak-proof fountain pen; he patented his new invention in 1884 and revolutionized writing. Before his fountain pen, pen tips had to be tipped into ink after every few words. Waterman put an ink reservoir in the pen above the pen's metal nib (point). This reservoir would hold enough ink for a few pages of writing. There were many problems in developing the fountain pen, especially the difficulty of controlling the flow of the ink. Putting a sealed reservoir above the nib wouldn't let the ink flow, but if it wasn't sealed, all the ink would flow at once. Waterman used capillary action to replace the ink in the rubber sac with air so that the ink flowed smoothly but did not flow all at once. Also, the metals in the ink dissolved the steel pen nib, so Waterman used an iridium-plated gold nib. Waterman was also the first person to place a clip on the cap of the pen.
Noah Webster (October 16, 1758 - May 28, 1843) was an American scholar, writer, and lexicologist (he studied words). Webster reformed and standardized the spelling of American words and wrote many textbooks and in 1806, published "A Compendious Dictionary of the English Language." In 1828, he completed, "An American Dictionary of the English Language." Webster devised simplified rules for spelling American English, including changing the spelling of English words like "colour" to be spelled "color," and "centre" to be spelled "center."
Alexander Wetmore (1886-1978) was an ornithologist who was an expert on the birds and bird fossils of Central and South America. He named many species of fossil birds, including Plegadornis, 1962 (now Angelinornis). He was put in charge of the National Museum (the Smithsonian), the National Gallery of Art, and the National Zoo in 1925. He collected a lot of birds (which were stuffed for the Smithsonian's collection) and fossils. In addition to his field work and administrative duties, he was famous for being extremely formal. While in the rainforests collecting specimens, he would always wear a tie, and he insisted that the tents, chairs and tables were always arranged perfectly in a particular linear fashion. The Cretaceous Period fossil bird Alexornis (meaning "Alex's bird") was named by Pierce Brodkorb in 1976 in honor of Wetmore.
|White, Edward H.
Edward Higgins White II (1930- 1967) was an American astronaut and Air Force test pilot. He was the first American to walk in space; he was also the first person to use jet propulsion to maneuver himself in space while on a spacewalk. This spacewalk occurred on June 3, 1965, on the four-day Gemini 4 (GT-4, commanded by Jim McDivitt) mission, which circled the Earth 62 times. White was later chosen to be the Senior Pilot for the first Apollo mission (Apollo 1). Lieutenant Colonel White died on January 27, 1967, during an Apollo training session (in which they were practicing emergency procedures). A flash fire quickly burned the spacecraft, killing White and his fellow astronauts, Gus Grissom and Roger Chaffee.
Eli Whitney (1765-1825) was an American inventor and engineer. Whitney invented the cotton gin and the idea of interchangeable parts. He patented the cotton gin, which revolutionized the cotton industry on March 14, 1794. The cotton gin is a machine that cleans cotton, removing its many seeds. Previously, this tedious job had been done by hand, using two combs. The cotton gin made much of the southern United States very rich, but cotton plantation owners rarely paid Whitney for the use of his invention, and Whitney went out of business. He never patented his later inventions (like his milling machine). Whitney also helped modernize the musket industry (and mass production in general) by introducing the idea of interchangeable parts in a manufacturing system.
The first working airplane was invented by, designed, made, and flown by the Wright brothers, Wilbur Wright (1867-1912) and Orville Wright (1871-1948). Their "Wright Flyer" was a fabric-covered biplane with a wooden frame. The power to the two propellers was supplied by a 12-horsepower water-cooled engine. On December 17, 1903, the "Flyer" flew for 12 seconds and for a distance of 120 feet (37 m). The flight took place at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, USA.
|Wright, Frank Lloyd
Frank Lloyd Wright (June 8, 1867-April 9, 1959) was an important American architect whose created low, natural-looking Prairie Style houses, low-cost "Usionan" homes, and memorable large buildings (like the Johnson Wax building and the spiral Guggenheim Museum).
|Wright, John Lloyd
Lincoln Logs are a popular children's toy building set that consists of interlocking notched logs. Children can easily make log cabins and other structures from the tiny wooden logs.
Lincoln Logs were invented in 1916 by John Lloyd Wright (1892-1972), an architect and one of the five children of the world-famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright. John patented his toy in 1920, and sold the logs through his toy company, the Red Square Toy Company. Playskool bought the rights to Lincoln Logs in 1943.
Dr. Chien-Shiung Wu (Shanghai, China, May 31, 1912 - New York, USA, February 16, 1997) was a nuclear physicist who studied beta-decay (a weak interaction in which one of the neutrons in the nucleus of an atom decays into a proton and an electron; the proton enters the nucleus, forming an isotope, and the electron is emitted as a beta-particle). In 1956, Madam Wu did experiments showing that parity is not conserved in weak interactions (demonstrating parity violation in the nuclear beta decay in cobalt 60). Her experiments supported T. D. Lee and C. N. Yang's revolutionary idea that parity was not conserved in weak interactions (parity conservation had been a basic assumption in physics). Madam Wu worked on the Manhattan Project (a secret US project during World War 2 to develop an atomic bomb in order to defeat Hitler), developing a process for separating the uranium isotopes U235 and U238 by gaseous diffusion. She also helped develop more sensitive Geiger counters (devices that detect radiation). Madam Wu also studied the molecular changes in hemoglobin associated with sickle-cell anemia.
Dictionary of US History
|Explorers of the US
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