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Martha Matilda Harper
Martha Harper was not only one of the most successful hair preparation proprietors, but she was a true pioneer for woman in the workplace. She was the mother of the concept of the franchise. Historians rank her among the like of Susan B. Anthony. There is a fantastic book on her life called Martha Matilda Harper and the American Dream.

Martha Matilda Harper was born in Oakville, Ontario, Canada on September 10th, 1857. She was the daughter of Robert Harper who had come to Canada from Ireland sometime in the early 19th century. At the age of seven she went to live with relatives in Orno, Ontario. Later on she moved to Rochester, N.Y. to work in a home.

Soon after moving to Rochester, she began making her Hair Tonic in a shed owned by her employer. She claimed to have been bequeathed the formula by a physician before leaving Canada. In 1888, having saved $360.00, she rented an office in Rochester and opened her first "Harper Method" shop. About the same time she established a manufacturing plant in Rochester for her Hair Tonic which was becoming an international product.

Harper's shops were the fore-runners of modern day beauty parlors. She eventually built up a chain of over 350 nationwide and in Canada. She built training schools for her technicians in Rochester, Atlanta, Madison (Wis.), and Calgary, Alberta, Canada. A monumental success story, she managed the entire business by herself for most of her life. There were a couple of periods, including the last 13 years of her life, during which her husband was her business partner.

Martha was married in New York City on October 27, 1920 to Robert Arthur MacBain. She was very active in the community and a supporter of many charities. Having no children, she died August 3, 1950, in Rochester.

Most of the biographical information in this article was obtained from the National Cyclopaedia of American Biography.

  Mascaro Tonique (Later Harper Method Tonique)

Pamphlets & Ads:
  Product pamphlet from Harper Method Tonique