Bette Clair McMurray
Bette Clair McMurray
Betty Clair McMurray (1924-1980) was a typist who invented Liquid Paper.
Bette Clair McMurray dropped out of school when she was seventeen because of disciplinary difficulties. In the 1940s there were very few jobs open to young women. She could not type, but she got a job as a secretary for a law firm because of her personality. The attorneys sent her to night school for her high-school diploma and secretarial training. She married Warren Nesmith in 1942, and their son (Michael) was born in 1943. After she and her husband divorced in 1946, she had to provide for her son and herself, and she attempted to do so, relying on her shaky secretarial skills.
In 1951 McMurray was an executive secretary at Texas Bank and Trust in Dallas. The typewriters used there had ribbons made with carbon film. Erasing errors made on these typewriters looked messy. As an amateur painter, McMurray knew that artists made corrections by painting over mistakes rather than erasing them. So, she began using a white tempera paint to paint over her mistakes.
It did not take long for the secretaries at the Texas Bank and Trust to catch on to McMurray's idea. By 1956 she was bottling "Mistake Out" in her garage for their use. She started learning about how paints are made and experimented with changing the formula. She developed a quick-drying modification that was nearly undetectable after use. By 1957 she had patented her product with the new name "Liquid Paper." She had her son fill little bottles with Liquid Paper in a work space at her home. After she was fired for accidentally typing "The Liquid Paper Company" on a letter instead of her employer's company name, she devoted herself full-time to selling Liquid Paper.
It was not until the late 1960s that McMurray's efforts began to pay off, and then it became very successful. Gillette bought Liquid Paper in 1979 for $47.5 million and agreed to pay royalties to McMurray on every bottle sold until the year 2000. Her son Michael Nesmith, meanwhile, had become a rock 'n' roll star in the 1960s with the Monkees.
Ethlie Ann Vare and G. Ptacek, Mothers of Invention: From the Bra to the Bomb, Forgotten Women and Their Unforgettable Ideas (New York: Morrow, 1988). □
"Bette Clair McMurray." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (April 25, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/bette-clair-mcmurray
"Bette Clair McMurray." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Retrieved April 25, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/bette-clair-mcmurray
Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).
Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.
Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:
Modern Language Association
The Chicago Manual of Style
American Psychological Association
- Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
- In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.