Some African-American Firsts &
James S. Adams patents a propelling means for
airplanes (October 19, 1920)
Nathaniel Alexander received a patent for a folding
Chair (July 4, 1911).
Charles W. Allen received patent for a Self-Leveling
Table (November 1, 1898).
James B. Allen patents a Clothes Lines Support
(December 10, 1895) and a Package-tie (April 14, 1914).
James S. Allen patents a propelling means for
airplanes (October 19, 1920)
Thomas Allen was the first man to pilot a plane across
the United States.
Virgie M. Ammons received patent for a Fireplace
Damper Actuating Tool (September 30, 1975).
Alexander P. Ashbourne received a patent for a Process
for preparing Coconut (July 27, 1880; a Biscuit Cutter (November
30, 1875); a process of Treating Coconut (August 21, 1877); and
a process for Refining Coconut Oil (June 1, 1875).
Emmett Ashford becomes the first African American
major league baseball umpire (April 12, 1966).
William M. Bailes received a patent for a Ladder
Scaffold Support (November 5, 1879).
Leonard C. Bailey received a patent for a combined
Truss and Bandage (July 18, 1899 and a Folding bed (September
Charles Orren Bailiff received a patent for a Shampoo
Headrest (October 11, 1898).
Bertram F. Baker received a patent for an Automatic
Cashier (April 27, 1926).
David Baker received a patent for a railway Signal
apparatus (February 2, 1913); Signal Apparatus High Water
Indicator for Bridges (September 21, 1915); and Interliners to
Prevent Tire Punctures (March 8, 1927).
William J. Ballow received a patent for a Combined
Hatrack and Table (March 29, 1898)
Charles A. Bankhead received a patent for an Assembled
Composition printing Process (May 13, 1930)
Benjamin Banneker received a patent for the first
Andrew J. Beard, an illiterate, invented and
sold the patent rights to a railroad car coupler for $50,00 in
1897; and patent for a device he called the Jenny Coupler
(November 27, 1897).
Alfred Benjamin received a patent for the Stainless
Steel Scouring Pads (June 19, 1962).
Lyde W. Benjamin received patents for a Broom
Moisteners and Bridles (May 16, 1893).
Miriam E. Benjamin, the second African American woman
to receive a patent, patents Gong and Signal Chairs for hotels
(July 17, 1888).
James W. Benton received a patent for the Lever
Derrick (October 2, 1900).
Edmond Berger received patent for the Spark Plug
(February 2, 1839).
Bertha Berman received a patent for the Fitted
Bed Sheets (October 6, 1959).
M. William Binga received a patent for a street
sprinkling apparatus (July 22, 1879).
Alfred A. Bishop received a patent for a Nuclear
Reactor with Self-Orificing Radial Blanket (March 7, 1978).
Henry Blair was the second African American issued a
patent by the United States Patent Office, inventing a
corn-planting machine 1834; corn-harvesting and cotton planting
John W. Blanton received a patent for a
Hydromechanical Rate Damped Servo System (August 27, 1963).
Bessie Blount received a patent for a Device to Help
the Disable Eat (1951).
Lockrum Blue received a patent foa hand Corn Shelling
device (May 20, 1884).
Guion S. Bluford patents an Artillery Ammunition
Training Round (February 13, 1951).
Peachy Booker received a patent for a Flying Landing
Platform (October, 10, 1961).
Sarah Boone received a patent for the Ironing Board
(December 30, 1887 or April 26, 1892).
Henry A. Bowman received a patent for a device for
Making Flags (February 23, 1892).
Otis Boykin received a patent for the "Electrical
Resistor" used in computers, radios, television sets and a
variety of electronic devices including the Pace Maker Controls
and Guided Missiles (February 21, 1961).
Henrietta Bradberry patents a Torpedo Discharge Means
(Underwater Cannon) (May 25, 1943) and a Bed rack (December 11,
Charles B. Brooks received a patent for the first
Street Sweeper Truck (March 17, 1896).
Phil Brooks received a patent for the disposable
syringe (April 9, 1974).
Anthony Brown received a patent a Weather Detector
(November 2, 1999); Severe weather Detector and Alarm (June 13,
Henry Brown received a "Receptacle for Storing
and Preserving Papers" (November 2. 1886). It kept papers
Oscar E. Brown received a patent for the Horse Shoe
(August 23, 1892).
Lincoln F. Brown received a patent for the Bridle Bit
(October 25, 1892).
Marie V. Brittain Brown received a patent for a home
security system utilizing TV, surveillance (December 2, 1969)
Ronald H. Brown became the first African-American
Chairman of the National Democratic Committee (April 3, 1996).
As U.S. Secretary of Commerce, Ron Brown died in Croatia while
leading a trade delegation. "When I'm through, I want
people to say that I not only made history, but that I made a
John Albert Burr received patent for the lawn mower
(May 9, 1899).
William F. Burr received a patent for a switching
device for railways (October 31, 1899).
Wilson Burwell received a patent for a Boot or Shoe
(November 28, 1899).
Richard A. Butler received a patent for a Train Alarm
(June 15, 1897).
John W. Butts received a patent for a Luggage carrier
(October 10, 1899).
Turner Jr. Byrd received patent for Improvement in
holders for reins for Horses Apparatus for Detaching Horses from
carriages (March 19, 1872) and Improvement in Neck Yokes for
wagons (April 30, 1872).
George Carruthers invented the Far-Ultraviolet camera,
the Image Converter, and the Spectograph
George Washington Carver received patents for peanut
butter, adhesives, bleach, chili sauce, ink, instant coffee,
linoleum, paints, mayonnaise, paper process, plastic, pavement,
shaving cream, talcum powder, lotions, soaps, and more.
Emmett W. Chappelle was a biochemist, photobiologist,
astrochemist, and inventor.
John B. Christian received patents for new lubricants
used in high flying aircraft and NASA space missions.
David Crosthwait received 39 patents for heating
systems and temperature regulating devices. He is most well
known for creating the heating system for New York City's famous
Radio City Music Hall.
Paul Cuffee was a wealthy merchant-mariner,
shipbuilder, and humanitarian (circa 1759).
The Cuban Giants, African-American waiters from the
Argyle Hotel in Babylon, New York, were the first salaried
African-American baseball team.
Mark Dean received a patent for improvements in
computer architecture that allowed IBM compatible PCs to use the
same peripheral devices.
Dr. Charles Richard Drew was the first person to
develop blood plasma and the blood bank
Claytonia J. Dorticus received a patent for a photo
print wash and a photo embossing machine
Philip Emeagwali won the Gordon Bell prize in 1989,
considered the equivalent of the Nobel Prize, for developing the
fastest supercomputer software in the world.
Lt. Commander Evelyn Fields became the first woman to
command a navy ship (November 16, 1989).
Robert Fleming, Jr. received a patent for a guitar.
Lelia Smith Foley became the first African American
woman to be elected mayor of a major city --Taft,
James Forten, Sr. received a patent and perfected a
sail designed to make the guiding of ships easier (1776).
He expended $300,000 in freeing African slaves,
establishing his home as an Underground railroad way station and
improving the condition of his people.
Sarah E. Goode was the first African American women to
receive a patent (US #322,177), which was issued on July 14,
1885 for inventing the Cabinet Bed.
Meredith C. Gourdine was the inventor of
Matthew Henson was a merchant seaman and an invaluable
explorer, braving sub-zero temperatures and extreme conditions
to become co-discoverer of the North Pole. because of his race,
he was denied recognition until 1961, when a bill was passed
providing for a bronze plaque crediting Henson for his
Alonzo Herndon was one of the first African-American
millionaires in the South, opening a large barber shop in
Atlanta, Georgia, catering to whites only. In 1905, he founded
the Atlanta Life Insurance Company, the largest
African-American-owned business then in the nation.
William Hinton became known as an authority on
venereal disease (18830. he developed the Hinton Test and the
Davies-Hinton Test for the detection of syphilis.
Augustin Jackson received a patent for ice cream.
Thomas L. Jennings was the first African American to
receive a patent US patent 3306x), issued on (March 3, 1821)
Johnson Products, Inc., a black Chicago-based hair
products company, was sold to a white company in 1993 for $67
Majorie Stewart Joyner received a patent for a
permanent wave machine that would allow a hairdo to stay set for
Frederick Jones received a patent the first automatic
refrigeration system for a long-haul trucks; the internal
combustion engine and the starter generator..
Percy Lavon Julian synthesized the medicines
physostigmine for glaucoma and cortisone used for rheumatoid
arthritis and he fire fighting foam.
Susie King became the first African American nurse in
the U.S. Army in 1902
John Lee Love invented the portable pencil sharpener.
Thomas J. Martin was awarded a patent for the fire
extinguisher (March 26, 1872).
Jon Ernest Matzeliger received a patent for an
automatic method for lasting shoes, which made the mass
production of affordable shoes possible.
Elijah McCoy received a patent for the automatic oil
cup and patents for 57 different kinds of devices and machine
parts, including an ironing board and a lawn sprinkler. His
first patent was for a lubricator for the steam engine
(US!129,843), which was issued July 12, 1872.
Alexander Miles received a patent for the Elevator.
Garrett Morgan received a patent for the gas mask and
the automatic traffic signal. he and his brother personally
donned the untested gas mask and rescued 30 workers trapped in
Tunnel No. 5 at the Cleveland Water Works.
Lewis Temple New, a blacksmith, designed the Toggle
Iron Harpoon in 1848, which became the standard harpoon in
American whaling from the mid-19th through the early 20th
Renee Powell became the first African-American woman
to join the Ladies Professional Golf Association Tour (October,
W.B. Purvis received a patent for the Fountain Pen.
Barbara Ross-Lee of Ohio University College of
osteopathic medicine in Athens, Ohio, in 1993, is the first
African-American woman to head a U.S. medical school.
San Antonio, Texas, became the first major southern
city to integrate (March 16, 1960).
Dewey Sanderson patents the urinalysis machine.
Henry Sampson received a patent for the cellular
M. Toland, a woman, received a patent for a
Float-Operated circuit Closer.
Madame C.J. Walker was a St. Louis washerwoman turned
entrepreneur. Walker patented a method to soften and smooth
African-American hair in 1905, died a millionaire and
philanthropist with the last words, "Not for me, but for my
Maggie Lena Walker founded Saint Luke Penny Savings
Bank (July 28, 1903), becoming the first female bank president.
Rufus J. Weaver received a patent for a wheelchair for
Cheryl White became the first female African American
disc jockey (June 15, 1971).
J. B. Winters received a patent for a fire escape
Granville T. Woods received patent for
improvements to electric railways, air brakes, the telephone and
telegraph, a chicken egg incubator, and the roller coaster.
Dr. Carter G. Woodson began Negro History Week
(February 7, 1926), In 1976, it became Black History Month
Source: A Compilation by Marii Martin and Cheryl Carter
* * * * *
* * *
Black Inventors Video
Inventions by African Americans You Use in Daily Life
Most people don't know that
inventions ranging from complex devices to common household goods were
invented by African Americans. Watch the video below to learn more about
black inventors and their contributions to the world. You'll be as
amazed as the people we encountered. Recognizing black inventors is a
very special part of celebrating Black History Month 2011. To learn even
more about black inventors and their incredibly diverse creations, visit
Dr. Shirley Jackson, first African American woman to receive a Ph.D.
from MIT and contributor to the creation of caller I.D.;
Jones, inventor of the refrigerated truck among other devices;
Sampson, co-inventor and patent holder of the gamma-electric cell,
which makes cell phones possible.)—Black-History.Black
Sampson, Jr.—born in
Jackson, Mississippi in 1934), an American
inventor—is the first African American to earn a Ph.D.
in Nuclear Engineering in the United States. . . .
He graduated from high
school in 1951 from Lanier High School in Jackson,
Mississippi. He then attended
Morehouse College for a couple of years before
Purdue University. He received a
Bachelor's degree in science from Purdue University in
1956. He graduated with an MS degree in engineering from the
University of California in 1961. Sampson also received
his MS in
Nuclear Engineering from the
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 1965, and his
PhD in 1967.
Some of his
accomplishments include being a member of the
United States Navy between the years 1962 and 1964 and
Atomic Energy Commission honor between 1964 and 1967.
Later he was awarded the Black Image Award from Aerospace
Corporation in 1982. He was awarded the Blacks in
Engineering, Applied Science Award, and prize for education,
by the Los Angeles Council of Black Professional Engineers
Frederick McKinley Jones—born in
Covington, Kentucky. Born on May 17,
1893—was a successful African American
businessman who manufactured refrigeration
system for trucks and railroad cars.
Orphaned at the age of nine. He was then
raised by a priest in Kentucky. During his
life, Jones was awarded sixty-one patents.
Forty were for refrigeration equipment,
while others went for portable
X-ray machines, sound equipment, and
1944, Jones became the first
African American to be elected into the
American Society of Refrigeration Engineers,
and during the 1950s he was a consultant to
U.S. Department of Defense and the
Bureau of Standards. In 1991, The
National Medal of Technology was awarded to
Joseph A. Numero and Frederick M. Jones.
President George Bush presented the awards
posthumously to their widows at a ceremony
in the White House Rose Garden. Mr. Jones
was the first African American to receive
the award. Jones died of
lung cancer in Minneapolis in 1961. He
was inducted into the Minnesota Inventors
* * *
Selected Diary Notes
/ Selected Poems
* * *
Ancient African Nations
* * *
If you like this page consider
making a donation
* * * * *
Negro Digest /
Browse all issues
* * * * *
The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan
The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll
Only a Pawn in Their Game
Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for
* * *
The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg
Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804
January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of
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updated 10 December 2007