March is the Women’s History Month celebrated globally to highlight the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society. The month corresponds with the International Women’s Day which is marked globally on March 8.
As part of Face2Face Africa’s commitment to informing and connecting black people around the world, we have resolved to devote each day of the month of March to celebrate black women inventors and to highlight their inventions.
Virgie M. Ammons invented the fireplace damper. It’s a device that prevents cold air and dust from blowing down the chimney and back into the house. It also allows for the smoke from the chimney to exit out of the house through the chimney’s shaft.
She received a patent for a fireplace damper actuating tool on September 30, 1975.
According to her patent abstract, her damper addressed the problem of fireplace dampers that flutter and make noise when gusty winds affected the chimney. Moreover, some dampers do not remain fully shut and Ammons was concerned that, “even a slightly open damper could cause a significant loss of heat in winter, and could even result in loss of coolness in summer. Both would be a waste of energy”. Ammons’ tool allowed the damper to be closed and held closed.
There is information was found as to whether her tool was manufactured and marketed.
There is little information about Ammons, specifically, her education, profession, and training. But information gathered about her personal life shows that she was born on December 29, 1908 in Gaithersburg, Maryland and died July 12th, 2000. She was a self-employed caretaker and a Muslim woman—but that’s not why she is famous.
Watch this quick video about her to learn more.