Did you know that rearview mirrors were not on automobiles until 1914, or that Dorothy Levitt, a pioneer of female independence and female motoring, is credited with inventing it, in 1909!
In my last post, we discussed a small manual printed in 1914, by F.M. Trego, Chief Engineer of The Lincoln Highway Association. Titled, "Hints to Transcontinental Tourists Travelling on The Lincoln Highway," the small booklet described the items one might find necessary to bring with them while adventuring in the auto. One such thing to bring was a small mirror.
In 1909 Dorothy Levitt wrote a booklet titled, "The Woman and the Car: A Chatty Little Handbook for all Women Who Motor or Who Want to Motor. "The booklet was for "those [women] who would like to (motor), but either dare not because of nervousness, or who imagine it is too difficult to understand the many necessary technical details." Photographs illustrating the topics that Levitt describes, including recommended motoring dress, adjusting the footbrake and changing a spark plug.
One of the items she mentions is a mirror. "The mirror should be fairly large to be really useful, and it is better to have one with a handle. Just before starting take the glass out of the little drawer and put it into the little flap pocket of the car. You will find it useful to have handy, not only for personal use, but to occasionally hold up to see what behind you.” Yes, Dorthy Levitt had invented the rearview mirror, five years before it's adoption as a standard part of an auto. That is why Trego mentions bringing a mirror along on your Transcontinental journey.
You can read Levitt’s booklet here, at the National Archives.