The words entrepreneurship and invention in Rochester's history are nearly synonymous with the names Eastman and Kodak. There are other individuals and companies that we associate with those words, but our town also has some early inventors and business people whose names have fallen into obscurity. This weekend Rochester Museum & Science Center will present a one-day program, "Discover Martha's Magic," in celebration of the 19th-century inventor, immigrant, and entrepreneur Martha Matilda Harper and her successful haircare franchise in Rochester.
A Canadian immigrant from humble roots, Harper saved her earnings and moved to Rochester in 1882, where she began selling a hair tonic she invented and eventually opening a string of salons and beauty schools. She invented the reclining shampoo chair that is still used in beauty salons today, and she was a social entrepreneur — of her 500 salons around the world, the first 100 were given to poor women.
RMSC's Discover Martha's Magic features activities for all ages, including an afternoon lecture for adults and older children, hands-on beauty products creation, a display of items that belonged to Harper, and a story time with the authors of "Martha's Magical Hair" and "Martha the Hairpreneur."
"Discover Martha's Magic" will be held at RMSC, 657 East Avenue, on Saturday, June 23, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The programming is included in regular museum admission: $13-15, free to members and kids under age 3. 697-1942; rmsc.org.