Black Inventors and Innovators - Honorable Mentions
For the month of February, Black History Month, I chose to give tribute to Black Inventors and Innovators. This has been an incredible experience for me. I have learned so much this month and it has been well worth it. I am only disappointed that I did not learn this in school. These are incredible people who have made an impact on our word in amazing ways and truly need to be recognized for their contributions.
For my last entry I truly did save the best for last. This is a tribute to those who had incredible inventions but who I could not find any biographical information on or very minimal information about the person. Still their inventions were incredibly innovative and important.
Here are my many honorable mentions in no particular order….
Andrew Beard was born in Eastlake, Alabama and received a patent for a device called the Jenny Coupler which automatically joined train cars by letting them bump into each other. Before this invention railmen suffered serious injuries to their arms and legs because bringing train cars together was dangerous work. This invention revolutionized the railroad industry. Beard had a number of patents including a double plow.
Miriam Benjamin was a school teacher in Washington D.C who received a patent for an invention called a Gong and Signal Chair for Hotels. The chair was a way for the customer to page an attendant for services without handclapping or yelling. Benjamin’s invention was the precursor to the call buttons on airplanes.
Henry Blair was born in 1807 in Glen Ross, Maryland. Blair was a free man and a successful farmer who developed inventions for efficiency. Blair’s first invention was a seed planter which enabled farmers to plant more corn utilizing less labor in a short period of time. Blair’s second patent was for a cotton planter.
Sarah Boone received a patent for a device that was the predecessor to our modern ironing board. Before her invention people would iron on a table or by using a plank of wood.
Charles Brooks patented the street sweeper; a truck with a series of broom-like brushes attached which pushed trash and debris to the side of the road. Before his invention streets were cleaned manually by workers.
Henry Brown was an inventor who created a strongbox to hold important papers, money and other valuables. These items were usually kept at the bank or in wooden containers. Brown’s metal container could be sealed with a key and lock.
Matthew Cherry created two devices one was the precursor to the bicycle and tricycle and the other was a streetcar fender. The streetcar fender protected the tire of the streetcar from being damaged or causing unnecessary damage, keeping riders safer.
David Crosthwait was born in Nashville, Tennessee and received a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Engineering degree from PurdueUniversity. Crosthwait had 40 patents for heating systems, vacuum pumps and refrigeration methods. Crosthwait created the heating system for RadioCityMusic Hall.
Philip Downing invented a street letter box which was the predecessor of today’s mailbox. Before this invention people would have to go to the post office to mail a letter. Downing also patented an electrical switch for railroads which was the precursor to electrical switches like light switches.
Sarah Goode was the owner of a furniture store in Chicago, Illinois. Goode was the first Black Woman to receive a patent with her invention of the Folding Cabinet Bed. When completely folded up the bed looked like a desk with many compartments.
Thomas Elkins had several inventions including a device that helped to preserve perishable foods through refrigeration, a chamber commode and a combined ironing table and quilting frame.
Henry Faulkner created the ventilated shoe which helped to decrease foot problems caused by excessive sweating and added comfort to aching feet.
David Fisher created two devices that made creating furniture easier. The first was the joiner’s clamp which held furniture pieces together while they were being glued together. The second device was a furniture caster which was a wheel that helped to move furniture around a room safely and efficiently.
George F. Grant invented a golf tee which raised the golf ball off the ground while holding it in place. Today golf tees are a necessity on the golf course.
Willis Johnson created an eggbeater. Before his invention all ingredients were mixed together by hand which was both labor intensive and time consuming.
John Love created the pencil sharpener because he was tired of having to whittle down his pencil to a point with his knife when writing letters.
Daniel McCree created a portable version of a fire escape for home use that could be attached to the windowsill of a home.
William Purvis created the fountain pen among other inventions.
Lloyd Ray created a dustpan which was a metal plate attached to a short wooden handle.
Albert Richardson had many inventions all of which were unrelated to each other, two of which were; the butter churn and a casket lowering device which is used in cemeteries today.
Thomas Stewart invented the first mop; a cloth connected to a stick handle held in place by a metal clasp.
Benjamin Thornton created a device that could be set to record voice messages from a caller on the telephone. This was the precursor of today’s answering machine.
The one thing that I learned and take away from this experience is that these inventors and innovators (believe me there are many many more that I know I have left out unintentionally) never had just one patent, most had more than 10 and several had over 50 patents. It really is a discredit to these inventors and innovators that these amazing people are not taught in schools and given the accolades that they truly deserve.
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