There are many things that have changed in automobiles over the last few decades. No longer will you find a button on the floor that turns your high beams on and off. No longer do you have toggle switches on the dash to activate your wiper blades. No longer will you find little vent wing windows that swing in for some non-powered ventilation. However, one thing that you will still find in your automobile is a glove compartment. You know that built-in box in the dash on the passenger side that holds your instruction book, your insurance card, your registration, your tire pressure gauge, a box of tissues, various fuses and bulbs for the car. You know that box that holds almost anything and everything with the exception of gloves!
So why do we call it a glove box? Apparently, we owe this term to a lady by the name of Dorothy Levitt, an early motorcar enthusiast. She held the female land speed record and in 1905 established the record for the longest drive achieved by a lady driver. She was ahead of her times when she recommended that women keep a hand-mirror in a convenient place when driving to and hold it up occasionally so that one could see behind while driving in traffic several years before manufacturer introduced the rear-view mirror. Ms. Levitt also advised motorists to carry a number of pairs of gloves to deal with many eventualities. Where would motorists store said gloves when not in use? Why in that box at the front of course and thus we have the glove compartment.
Many trinkets and gadgets have come and gone in cars over the years. The odds are that today’s “must haves” may very well be tomorrow’s “Long-forgottens.” Yet for more than a hundred years and perhaps a hundred more, we have Dorothy Levitt to thank for the ubiquitous if not quite aptly named glove box.