Marion Donovan Bio

Marion Donovan Bio

Marion Donovan was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana in the year of 1917. She spent her childhood hanging around the manufacturing plant run by her father and uncle who were inventors. As she grew up she lived in Connecticut, got married, and became a post-world war II housewife. She gave birth to two children. She got frustrated by changing her youngest child’s soiled cloth diaper, bed sheets, and clothing so she decided to create a diaper to cover, comfort, and keep the baby dry.

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As ideas came to thought, she went into the kitchen and sat at her sewing machine with a shower curtain in her hand and went to work. It took her several attempts but she completed a waterproof diaper. At that time rubber diaper pants were used but they would pinch the baby’s skin, and cause diaper rash. Her diaper was much different; it was made of a cloth and was wrapped in an absorbent plastic cover. It brought so much more comfort to her children that she decided to subsequently improve on the invention.

To hold the diaper she added snapping fasteners to replace the very dangerous pins that often pierced upon the baby’s skin. She decided to call her diaper cover the “boater” and said “at the time it looked like a boat”. Some manufacturing companies would even consider her invention and ignored it until Keko Corporation bought the diaper rights from her in 1951. Aiming for her best she decided to make a fully disposable diaper, for which she had to fashion a paper that was strong, highly absorbent, and that also conveyed water from the baby’s skin.

After she accomplished her goal she produced it to every large manufacturer in the country, but once again she found no takers. Everyone she talked to told her that the idea was superfluous and impractical. It wasn’t until a decade later in 1961, that a man named Victor Mills drew upon Donovan’s vision to create Pampers®. Marion Donovan earned a total of 20 patents in her lifetime and also received a degree from Yale University in 1958.


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