History Podcasts

8 Black Inventors Who Made Daily Life Easier

8 Black Inventors Who Made Daily Life Easier

Most people have heard about famous inventions like the light bulb, the cotton gin and the iPhone. But there are countless other, often overlooked inventions that make our daily lives easier. Among the creative innovators behind these devices are African American inventors. From the traffic light to the ironing board, see a list of products that have sprung from the minds of Black inventors.

Improved Ironing Board, Invented by Sarah Boone in 1892

The ironing board is a product that’s used possibly just as much as it’s overlooked. In the late 19th century, it was improved upon by Sarah Boone, an African American woman who was born enslaved. One of the first Black women in U.S. history to receive a patent, she expanded upon the original ironing board, which was essentially a horizontal wooden block originally patented in 1858. With Boone’s 1892 additions, the board featured a narrower and curved design, making it easier to iron garments, particularly women’s clothing. Boone’s design would morph into the modern ironing board that we use today.

Home Security System, Co-Invented by Mary Van Brittan Brown in 1966

Before security systems became a fixture in homes, an African American nurse Mary Van Brittan Brown, devised an early security unit for her own home. She spent many nights at home alone in Queens, New York while her husband was away, and felt unsafe with high rates of crime in her neighborhood. On top of that, police were unreliable and unresponsive. So she created a device that would help put her mind at ease.

In 1966, Brown invented a system that used a camera that could slide into and look through four peepholes in her front door. The camera’s view would then appear on a monitor in her home so she could survey any potentially unwanted guests.

She added other features to the system, including a microphone to speak to anyone at the door, a button to unlock the door, and a button to contact the police. She and her husband took out a patent for the system in the same year, and they were awarded the patent three years later in 1969. Home security systems commonly used today took various elements from her design.

WATCH: Assembly Required with Tim Allen and Richard Karn premieres Tuesday, February 23 at 10/9c on HISTORY. Watch a preview now.

The Three-Light Traffic Light, Invented by Garrett Morgan in 1923

With only an elementary school education, Black inventor (and son of an enslaved parent), Garrett Morgan came up with several significant inventions, including an improved sewing machine and the gas mask. However, one of Morgan's most influential inventions was the improved traffic light. Without his innovation, drivers across the nation would be directed by a two-light system.

Thanks to the successes of his other inventions, Morgan became the first Black person in Cleveland, Ohio to own a car. As a motorist, he witnessed a severe car accident at an intersection in the city. In response, he decided to expand on the current traffic light by adding a “yield” component, warning oncoming drivers of an impending stop. He took out the patent for the creation in 1923, and it was granted to him the following year.

Read More: How an Enslaved African Man in Boston Helped Save Generations from Smallpox

Refrigerated Trucks, Invented by Frederick McKinley Jones in 1940

If your refrigerator has any produce from your local grocery store, then you can credit African American inventor Frederick McKinley Jones. Jones took out more than 60 patents throughout his life, including a patent for the roof-mounted cooling system that’s used to refrigerate goods on trucks during extended transportation in the mid-1930s. He received a patent for his invention in 1940, and co-founded the U.S. Thermo Control Company, later known as Thermo King. The company was critical during World War II, helping to preserve blood, food and supplies during the war.

Automatic Elevator Doors, Invented by Alexander Miles in 1887

The use of elevators in everyday life keeps people from committing to long and grueling climbs up several flights of stairs. However, before the creation of elevator doors that close automatically, riding a lift was both complicated and risky.

Before automatic doors, people had to manually shut both the shaft and elevator doors before riding. Forgetting to do so led to multiple accidents as people fell down elevator shafts. When the daughter of African American inventor Alexander Miles almost fatally fell down the shaft, he took it upon himself to develop a solution. In 1887 he took out a patent for a mechanism that automatically opens and closes elevator shaft doors and his designs are largely reflected in elevators used today.

Electret Microphone, Co-Invented by James E. West in 1964

Even for those who aren’t quick to pick up the mic during karaoke, microphones are used every day to communicate over distances far and wide. And more than 90 percent of the microphones used today, including the microphones used in phones and cameras, use a microphone co-invented by a Black man. Dr. James E. West was tasked with creating a more sensitive and compact microphone while working at Bell Labs in 1960.

Along with his German colleague Gerhard Sessler, West invented the foil electret microphone, which was considerably less expensive to produce than the typically used condenser microphones. Two years after it was invented, the final model of the microphone was developed and in 1964 they patented the landmark invention. Only four years later, the new microphone was in wide production and was being used in hearing aids, tape recorders, most telephones and baby monitors.

Carbon Light Bulb Filament, Invented by Lewis Latimer in 1881

The light bulb itself was invented by Thomas Edison, but the innovation used to create longer-lasting light bulbs with a carbon filament came from African American inventor Lewis Latimer. Latimer, the son of formerly enslaved people, began work in a patent law firm after serving in the military for the Union during the Civil War. He was recognized for his talent drafting patents and was promoted to head draftsman, where he co-invented an improved bathroom for railroad trains.

Read More: When Edison Turned Night into Day

His successes would garner him further attention from the the U.S. Electric Lighting Company, putting him at a company in direct competition with Edison, in 1880. While there, Latimer patented a new filament for the light bulb, using carbon instead of more incendiary materials, like bamboo, that were commonly used for filaments. The addition of the carbon filament increased the life span and practicality of light bulbs, which had previously died after just a few days. In 1884, he went on to work with Edison at the Edison Electric Light Company.

Color IBM PC Monitor and Gigahertz Chip, Co-Invented by Mark Dean c. 1980 and 1999

Before flat screens and hi-definition LCD monitors were the norm, PC displays were limited to screens with no color that were tethered to computers with limited processing power. That all changed thanks to Black inventor and engineer Mark Dean. Dean began working for IBM as a chief engineer in the early 1980s, making up a team of 12 people who would develop the first IBM PC. In addition to helping create IBM’s original machine in his early years with the company, he also worked to develop the color monitor and led the team that developed the first gigahertz processor. The massive chip, built in 1999, would allow for for higher processing rates at faster speeds within PCs.

READ MORE: 10 More Black Inventors Who Changed Your Life


Inventions Used Daily That Were Created By African Americans

In honor of Black History Month approaching in February, there has been lots of discussion surrounding the lives of African American's and their importance to society. In this article, I hope to publicize the many creative inventions and accomplishments contributed to society by African Americans. After reading this, I hope you become inspired to learn more about African American culture, which isn't highlighted in everyday media sites.


Madam C.J. Walker

Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Philanthropist and entrepreneur Madam C.J. Walker (real name Sarah Breedlove), born to formerly enslaved sharecroppers, was orphaned at just seven years old. After later suffering hair loss from a scalp condition, Walker invented an innovative line of African American hair care products in 1905 that led to her distinction as one of America’s first self-made millionaires. Her highly successful cosmetics company is still in business today. 


The Three-Light Traffic Light, Invented by Garrett Morgan in 1923

With only an elementary school education, black inventor (and son of a slave), Garrett Morgan came up with several significant inventions, including an improved sewing machine and the gas mask. However, one of Morgan’s most influential inventions was the improved traffic light. Without his innovation, drivers across the nation would be directed by a two-light system.

Thanks to the successes of his other inventions, Morgan became the first black person in Cleveland, Ohio to own a car. As a motorist, he witnessed a severe car accident at an intersection in the city. In response, he decided to expand on the current traffic light by adding a “yield” component, warning oncoming drivers of an impending stop. He took out the patent for the creation in 1923, and it was granted to him the following year.


Dorothy Johnson Vaughan

  • Born: September 20, 1910
  • Died: November 10, 2008
  • Occupation: NASA mathematician

Known as a “human computer,” Dorothy Johnson Vaughan was part of a team that did mathematical calculations to help launch satellites—and later humans—into space. The group used math to help engineers figure out how wind and gravity affects aircrafts.

When she was first hired to work on the space program, Vaughan’s department was segregated, or separated, by race. She and the other African-American women in her unit used separate dining areas and bathrooms. Six years after she was hired, Vaughan became the manager of her division and its first Black supervisor.

A decade later, the agency desegregated and she joined the Analysis and Computation division, where she learned computer programming and worked on the program that launched John Glenn and other astronauts into space for the first time. The accomplishments of Vaughan and other female African-American mathematicians was the focus of the book and movie Hidden Figures.


Dandelions & Roses

xxx – Sarah Boone, 1832-1904 – “best known for her patented improvements to the ironing board… one of the first African American women to receive a patent in United States history”

xxx – Otis Boykin, 1920-1982 – “known for inventing the wire precision resistor”

xxx – George Carruthers, 1939– – “patented his invention of the first “Image Converter for Detecting Electromagnetic Radiation Especially in Short Wave Lengths”… and was the principle inventor of the Far Ultraviolet Camera/Spectrograph”

  • Mentioned in these collective biographies:
    • Young, Jeff C. Brilliant African-American Scientists: Nine Exceptional Lives (MyReportLinks.com, 2009 – 9781598450835 – 128 p.)
    • Gubert, Betty Kaplan. Distinguished African Americans in Aviation and Space Science (Oryx Press, 2002 – 1573562467 – 319 p.)

    630.92George Washington Carver, 1860s-1943 – “a pioneer in the chemurgy movement, a movement that was eventually overwhelmed by the proliferation of petrochemical products”

    • Howell, Izzi. George Washington Carver (B E S, 2021 – 9781438089058 – 32 p.)
    • Barretta, Gene. The Secret Garden of George Washington Carver (Katherine Tegen, 2020 – 9780062430151 – 40 p.)
    • Vitale, Brooke. I Am George Washington Carver (Penguin, 2020 – 9780593222157 – 24 p.)
    • Marsico, Katie. George Washington Carver (Cherry Lake, 2019 – 9781534128781 – 24 p.)
    • Thomas, Peggy. George Washington Carver for Kids: His Life and Discoveries, With 21 Activities (Chicago Review Press, 2019 – 9780915864003 – 129 p.)*
    • Bennett, Doraine. George Washington Carver (Let’s Read, 2018 – 9781489680556 – 24 p.)
    • Boone, Mary. George Washington Carver: Botanist and Inventor (Capstone, 2018 – 9781543506464 – 24 p.)
    • Strand, Jennifer. George Washington Carver (Abdo Zoom, 2016 – 9781680792294 – 24 p.)
    • Jazynka, Kitson. George Washington Carver (NGS, 2016 – 9781426322860 – 32 p.)
    • Kramer, Barbara. The Life of George Washington Carver: Inventor and Scientist (Enslow, 2015 – 9780766062702 – 96 p.)
    • Garstecki, Julia. George Washington Carver: World-Famous Botanist and Agricultural Inventor (Core Library, 2015 – 9781624038716 – 48 p.)
    • Gigliotti, Jim. Who Was George Washington Carver? (Grosset & Dunlap, 2015 – 9780448483122 – 105 p.)*
    • Colins, Luke. George Washington Carver (Capstone, 2014 – 9781476539577 = 24 p.)
    • Labrecque, Ellen. George Washington Carver (Raintree, 2014 – 9781410962409 – 32 p.)
    • Rau, Dana Meachen. George Washington Carver (Children’s Press, 2014 – 9780531210611 – 32 p.)*
    • Gould, Jane H. George Washington Carver (PowerKids, 2013 – 9781477700785 – 24 p.)
    • Marzollo, Jean. The Little Plant Doctor: A Story About George Washington Carver (Holiday House, 2011 – 9780823423255 – p.)
    • Mentioned in these collective biographies:
      • Young, Jeff C. Inspiring African-American Inventors: 9 Extraordinary Lives (MyReportLinks.com, 2009 – 9781598450804 – 128 p.)
      • Altman, Susan. Extraordinary African-Americans (Children’s Press, 2001 – 0516225499 – 288 p.)
      • Haber, Louis. Black Pioneers of Science and Invention (HBJ, 1991 – 9780152085667 – 264 p.)
      • Mentioned in these collective biographies (or fiction):
        • FICTION: Abdul-Jabbar, Kareem. What Color is My World?: The Lost History of African-American Inventors (Candlewick, 2013 – 9780763645649 – 90 p.)

        xxx – Marian R. Croak, 1955- – “contributed to the expansion of technology, especially Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP)”

        641.509George Crum, 1824-1914 – “invented the potato chip, a myth eventually debunked by his sister Kate Speck who claimed she invented what would soon be known as the famous Saratoga chips”

        • Taylor, Gaylia. George Crum and the Saratoga Chip (Lee & Low, 2006 – 9781584302551 – p.)
        • FICTION: Renaud, Anne. Mr. Crum’s Potato Predicament (Kids Can Press, 2017 – 9781771386197 – 40 p.)*
        • Mentioned in these collective biographies (or fiction):
          • FICTION: Abdul-Jabbar, Kareem. What Color is My World?: The Lost History of African-American Inventors (Candlewick, 2013 – 9780763645649 – 90 p.)
          Xxx – Mark Dean, 1957- – “key contributor in the development of the PC”
          • Mentioned in these collective biographies (or fiction):
            • FICTION: Abdul-Jabbar, Kareem. What Color is My World?: The Lost History of African-American Inventors (Candlewick, 2013 – 9780763645649 – 90 p.)
            616.092 – Charles Drew, 1904-1950 – Physician & Medical Researcher
            • Garstecki, Julia. Charles Drew: Distinguished Surgeon and Blood Researcher (Abdo, 2016 – 9781624038730 – 48 p.)
            • Marsico, Katie. Charles Drew (Cherry Lake, 2018 – 9781534128798 – 24 p.)
            • Schraff, Anne E. The Life of Dr. Charles Drew: Blood Bank Innovator (Enslow, 2015 – 9780766062658 – 96 p.)
            • Venezia, Mike. Charles Drew: Doctor Who Got the World Pumped Up to Donate Blood (Children’s Press, 2009 – 9780531237250 – 32 p.)
            • Salas, Laura Purdie. Charles Drew: Pioneer in Medicine (Capstone, 2006 – 9780736854337- 32 p.)
            • Schraff, Anne E. Charles Drew: Pioneer in Medicine (Enslow, 2003 – 0766020088 – 32 p.)
            • Schraff, Anne E. Dr. Charles Drew: Blood Bank Innovator (Enslow, 2003 – 0766021173 – 112 p.)
            • Whitehurst, Susan. Dr. Charles Drew, Medical Pioneer (Child’s World, 2002 – 1567669166 – 40 p.)
            • Shapiro, Miles. Charles Drew: Live-Saving Scientist (Raintree, 1997 – 0817244034 – 112 p.)
            • Jackson, Garnet. Charles Drew (Modern Curriculum, 1994 – 9780813652382 – 26 p.)
            • Talmadge, Katherine S. The Life of Charles Drew (21st Century, 1992 – 0941477657 – 84 p.)
            • Wolfe, Rinna. Charles Richard Drew, M.D. (Watts, 1991 – 0531200213 – 64 p.)
            • Mahone-Lonesome, Robyn. Charles Drew (Chelsea House, 1990 – 1555465811 – 109 p.)
            • Bertol, Roland. Charles Drew (Crowell, 1970 – 31 p.)
            • Hardwick, Richard. Charles Richard Drew, Pioneer in Blood Research (Scribner, 1967 – 144 p.)
            • Mentioned in these collective biographies (or fiction):
              • Harrison, Vashti. Little Legends: Exceptional Men in Black History (Little, Brown, 2019 – 9780316475143 – 86 p.)*
              • Abdul-Jabbar, Kareem. What Color is My World?: The Lost History of African-American Inventors (Candlewick, 2013 – 9780763645649 – 90 p.)
              • Altman, Susan. Extraordinary African-Americans (Children’s Press, 2001 – 0516225499 – 288 p.)
              • Haber, Louis. Black Pioneers of Science and Invention (HBJ, 1991 – 9780152085667 – 264 p.)

              xxx – Philip Emeagwali, 1954- – “a computer scientist who is best known for utilizing the connection machine and 65,536 microprocessors to achieve 3.1 billion calculations per second, the fastest computational record at the time”

              xxx – Lisa Gelobter, 1971- – “worked on several pioneering internet technologies, and she is credited with developing the animation used to create GIFs”

              1855-1905 – “one of the first African-American women to obtain a patent… for a folding cabinet bed”

              • Kirkfeld, Vivian. Sweet Dreams, Sarah (Creston Books, 2019 – 9781939547316 – 32 p.)*
              • Mentioned in these collective biographies:
                • Bolden, Tonya. Changing the Equation: 50+ US Black Women in STEM (Abrams, 2020 – 9781419707346 – 202 p.)*

                530.092 – Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson, 1946- – “a leading developer of Caller ID and Call Waiting on telephones”

                • Loh-Hagan, Virginia. Shirley Ann Jackson (Cherry Lake, 2018 – 9781534107137 – 24 p.)
                • Mentioned in these collective biographies:
                  • Bolden, Tonya. Changing the Equation: 50+ US Black Women in STEM (Abrams, 2020 – 9781419707346 – 202 p.)*

                  609.2 – Lonnie G. Johnson, 1949 – – “most famous for inventing the Super Soaker water gun”

                  • Abdul-Jabbar, Kareem. What Color is My World?: The Lost History of African-American Inventors (Candlewick, 2013 – 9780763645649 – 90 p.)
                  • Young, Jeff C. Inspiring African-American Inventors: 9 Extraordinary Lives (MyReportLinks.com, 2009 – 9781598450804 – 128 p.)

                  xxx – Frederick Jones, 1893-1961 – “best known for inventing the first automatic refrigeration system for trucks.”

                  • Mentioned in these collective biographies (or fiction):
                    • Abdul-Jabbar, Kareem. What Color is My World?: The Lost History of African-American Inventors (Candlewick, 2013 – 9780763645649 – 90 p.)
                    • Aaseng, Nathan. Black Inventors (Facts on File, 1997 – 0816034079 – 128 p.)

                    xxx – Percy Lavon Julian, 1899-1975 – “developed an inexpensive process to prepare cortisone, which is used in the treatment of arthritis… and developed a flame retardant used by the U.S. Navy in World War II which saved the lives of a number of sailors”

                    • Stille, Darlene R.Percy Lavon Julian: Pioneering Chemist (Compass Point, 2009 – 9780756540890 – 112 p.)
                    • Mentioned in these collective biographies (or fiction) :
                      • Abdul-Jabbar, Kareem. What Color is My World?: The Lost History of African-American Inventors (Candlewick, 2013 – 9780763645649 – 90 p.)
                      • Young, Jeff C. Inspiring African-American Inventors: 9 Extraordinary Lives (MyReportLinks.com, 2009 – 9781598450804 – 128 p.)
                      • Altman, Susan. Extraordinary African-Americans (Children’s Press, 2001 – 0516225499 – 288 p.)
                      • Aaseng, Nathan. Black Inventors (Facts on File, 1997 – 0816034079 – 128 p.)
                      • Haber, Louis. Black Pioneers of Science and Invention (HBJ, 1991 – 9780152085667 – 264 p.)

                      xxx – Mary Davison Kenner, 1912-2006 – “an inventor of numerous products we use today and has the most patents of any African American woman”

                      621.326 – Lewis Latimer, 1848-1928 – “received his first [ofeight] patent for improving the toilet paper on passenger railroad cars”

                      • Patrick, Denise Lewis. Lewis Latimer: Engineering Wizard (HarperCollins, 2021 – 9780062978073 – 91 p.)*
                      • Dickmann, Nancy. Lewis Latimer: The Man Behind a Better Light Bulb (Pebble Plus, 2020 – 9781977114112 – p.)
                      • Marsico, Katie. Lewis Howard Latimer (Charry Lake, 2018 – 9781534128804 – 24 p.)
                      • Ayer, Eleanor H.Lewis Latimer: Creating Bright Ideas (Heinemann, 1996 – 9780817244071 – 112 p.)
                      • Norman, Winifred Latimer. Lewis Latimer (Chelsea House, 1993 – 9780791019771 – 101 p.)
                      • Turner, Glenette Tilley. Lewis Howard Latimer (Silver Burdett, 1991 – 9780382095245 – 128 p.)
                      • Mentioned in these collective biographies (or fiction):
                        • Abdul-Jabbar, Kareem. What Color is My World?: The Lost History of African-American Inventors (Candlewick, 2013 – 9780763645649 – 90 p.)
                        • Young, Jeff C. Inspiring African-American Inventors: 9 Extraordinary Lives (MyReportLinks.com, 2009 – 9781598450804 – 128 p.)
                        • Haber, Louis. Black Pioneers of Science and Invention (HBJ, 1991 – 9780152085667 – 264 p.)

                        xxx – Jan Matzeliger, 1852-1889 – “received patent no. 274, 207 for a “Lasting Machine” that rapidly stitched the leather and sole of a shoe”

                        • Mentioned in these collective biographies:
                          • Young, Jeff C. Inspiring African-American Inventors: 9 Extraordinary Lives (MyReportLinks.com, 2009 – 9781598450804 – 128 p.)
                          • Altman, Susan. Extraordinary African-Americans (Children’s Press, 2001 – 0516225499 – 288 p.)
                          • Aaseng, Nathan. Black Inventors (Facts on File, 1997 – 0816034079 – 128 p.)
                          • Hudson, Wade. Five Notable Inventors (Scholastic, 1995 – 0590480332 – 48 p.)
                          • Haber, Louis. Black Pioneers of Science and Invention (HBJ, 1991 – 9780152085667 – 264 p.)

                          xxx – Elijah McCoy, 1844-1928 – “had his first patent guaranteed invention, the “lubricator cup” [which] dropped continuous amounts of oil onto the moving parts of the machine”

                          • Kulling, Monica. All Aboard!: Elijah McCoy’s Steam Engine (Tundra Books, 2010 – 9780887769450 – 32 p.)
                          • Jackson, Garnet. Elijah McCoy, Inventor (Modern Curriculum Press, 1993 – 0813652308 – 26 p.)
                          • Towle, Wendy. The Real McCoy: The Life of an African-American Inventor (Scholastic, 1993 – 0590435965 – p.)
                          • Mentioned in these collective biographies :
                            • Altman, Susan. Extraordinary African-Americans (Children’s Press, 2001 – 0516225499 – 288 p.)
                            • Hudson, Wade. Five Notable Inventors (Scholastic, 1995 – 0590480332 – 48 p.)
                            • Haber, Louis. Black Pioneers of Science and Invention (HBJ, 1991 – 9780152085667 – 264 p.)

                            1830s-1918 – “best for patenting his design for improving the automatically opening and closing elevator doors”

                            609.2Garrett Morgan, 1877-1963 – “received patents for a three-position traffic signal and a safety hood that was designed to aid breathing in smoke-filled areas”

                            • Harrison, Vashti. Little Legends: Exceptional Men in Black History (Little, Brown, 2019 – 9780316475143 – 86 p.)*
                            • Abdul-Jabbar, Kareem. What Color is My World?: The Lost History of African-American Inventors (Candlewick, 2013 – 9780763645649 – 90 p.)
                            • Young, Jeff C. Inspiring African-American Inventors: 9 Extraordinary Lives (MyReportLinks.com, 2009 – 9781598450804 – 128 p.)
                            • Altman, Susan. Extraordinary African-Americans (Children’s Press, 2001 – 0516225499 – 288 p.)
                            • Hudson, Wade. Five Notable Inventors (Scholastic, 1995 – 0590480332 – 48 p.)
                            • Haber, Louis. Black Pioneers of Science and Invention (HBJ, 1991 – 9780152085667 – 264 p.)

                            1885-? – “best known for a newly-designed hairbrush patent and her effort to fight for women’s rights”

                            1826- – “considered to be the first African American woman to receive a United States patent”

                            • Mentioned in these collective biographies:
                              • Altman, Susan. Extraordinary African-Americans (Children’s Press, 2001 – 0516225499 – 288 p.)
                              • Aaseng, Nathan. Black Inventors (Facts on File, 1997 – 0816034079 – 128 p.)
                              • Haber, Louis. Black Pioneers of Science and Invention (HBJ, 1991 – 9780152085667 – 264 p.)

                              xxx – Henry Thomas Sampson, 1934- – “a pioneer in the technology that is used in modern cell phones, but contrary to a widely held belief, he didn’t invent the cell phone… prolific inventor who holds several U.S. patents. In 1971, he co-invented the Gamma-Electric cell with George H. Miley”

                              • Mentioned in the following collective biographies (or fiction):
                                • Abdul-Jabbar, Kareem. What Color is My World?: The Lost History of African-American Inventors (Candlewick, 2013 – 9780763645649 – 90 p.)

                                xxx – Lewis Temple, 1800-1854 – “invention of the fluted or barbed harpoon, which revolutionized the whaling industry”

                                • Mentioned in these collective biographies:
                                  • Altman, Susan. Extraordinary African-Americans (Children’s Press, 2001 – 0516225499 – 288 p.)
                                  • Aaseng, Nathan. Black Inventors (Facts on File, 1997 – 0816034079 – 128 p.)

                                  xxx – Dr. Valerie L. Thomas

                                  • Mentioned in these collective biographies (or fiction):
                                    • Abdul-Jabbar, Kareem. What Color is My World?: The Lost History of African-American Inventors (Candlewick, 2013 – 9780763645649 – 90 p.)

                                    617.412Vivien T. Thomas, 1910-1985 – “developed a procedure to save “blue babies” afflicted with congenital heart defects”

                                    • Wyckoff, Edwin Brit. The African-American Heart Surgery Pioneer: The Genius of Vivien Thomas (Enslow Elementary, 2014 – 9780766041400 – 48 p.)
                                    • Latta, Sara L. Who Fixed Babies’ Hearts?: Vivien Thomas (Enslow Elementary, 2012 – 9780766039636 – 24 p.)

                                    xxx – Madam C. J. Walker, 1867-1919 – “found [ed] a business to manufacture and market her own hair treatment formula which she called Wonderful Hair Grower”

                                    • Lee, Sally. Madam C. J. Walker: The Woman Behind Hair Care Products for African Americans (Capstone, 2020 – 9781977109712 – 32 p.)
                                    • Spevacek, Robin. Madam C. J. Walker (Cricket Media, 2018 – e-book)*
                                    • McAneney, Caitie. Madam C. J. Walker and Her Beauty Empire (PowerKids, 2017 – 9781499421330 – 32 p.)
                                    • Carson, Mary Kay. Who Was the Hair-Care Millionaire? Madame C. J. Walker (Enslow, 2012 – 9780766039735 – 24 p.)
                                    • Wycoff, Edwin Brit. Hair-Care Millionaire: Madam C. J. Walker and her Amazing Business (Enslow, 2011 – 9780766034495 – 32 p.)
                                    • Marsico, Katie. Madam C. J. Walker (Cherry Lake, 2008 – 9781602790742 – 48 p.)
                                    • Aller, Susan Bivin. Madam C. J. Walker (Lerner, 2007 – 9780822565826 – 48 p.)
                                    • Krohn, Katherine E.Madam C. J. Walker and New Cosmetics (Capstone, 2007 – 9780736864855 – 32 p.)
                                    • Stille, Darlene R.Madam C. J. Walker: Entrepreneur and Millionaire (Compass Point, 2007 – 9780756518837 – 112 p.)
                                    • Krohn, Katherine. Madam C. J. Walker: Pioneer Businesswoman (Capstone, 2006 – 0736843469 – 32 p.)*
                                    • Nichols, Catherine. Madam C. J. Walker (Children’s Press, 2005 – 051624941X – 24 p.)
                                    • Hobkirk, Lori. Madam C. J. Walker (Child’s World, 2001 – 156766721X – 40 p.)
                                    • McKissack, Pat. Madam C. J. Walker: Self-Made Millionaire (Enslow, 2001 – 076601682X – 32 p.)
                                    • Lasky, Kathryn. Vision of Beauty: The Story of Sarah Breedlove Walker (Candlewick, 2000 – 0763602531 – p.)
                                    • Yannuzzi, Della A.Madam C. J. Walker (Enslow, 2000 – 0766012042 – 112 p.)
                                    • Toby, Marlene. Madam C. J. Walker: Pioneer Businesswoman (Children’s Press, 1995 – 0516042726 – 46 p.)
                                    • Colman, Penny. Madam C. J. Walker: Building a Business Empire (Millbrook, 1994 – 1562943383 – 48 p.)
                                    • Taylor, Marian W.Madam C. J. Walker (Chelsea Juniors,1994 – 0791020398 – 79 p.)
                                    • FICTION: Millner, Denene. Madame C. J. Walker Builds a Business (Timbuktu Labs, 2019 – 9781733176194 -128 p.)
                                    • Mentioned in these collective biographies:
                                      • Young, Jeff C. Inspiring African-American Inventors: 9 Extraordinary Lives (MyReportLinks.com, 2009 – 9781598450804 – 128 p.)
                                      • Altman, Susan. Extraordinary African-Americans (Children’s Press, 2001 – 0516225499 – 288 p.)
                                      • Hudson, Wade. Five Notable Inventors (Scholastic, 1995 – 0590480332 – 48 p.)

                                      xxx – James Edward Maceo West, 1931- – “transformed the way people around the world hear and transmit sound… developed the foil electret microphone in partnership with his colleague Dr. Gerhard M. Sessler”

                                      • Mentioned in these collective biographies (or fiction):
                                        • Abdul-Jabbar, Kareem. What Color is My World?: The Lost History of African-American Inventors (Candlewick, 2013 – 9780763645649 – 90 p.)

                                        xxx – Jesse Ernest Wilkins, Jr., 1923-2011 – “development of mathematical models to explain gamma radiation and his subsequent work on developing a shielding against gamma radiation”

                                        621.309Granville Woods, 1856-1910 – “developed over 50 significant patents over the course of his life… [and] is known as the “Black Edison


                                        Modern Alternating Current Electrical Supply System: Nikola Tesla - 1891

                                        Nikola Tesla filed for seven U.S. patents in the field of polyphase alternating current motors and power transmission. Tesla's patents comprised a complete system of generators, transformers, transmission lines, motors, and lighting. Tesla is also credited with the invention of the radio, although a patent dispute with the Marconi Company that was ultimately decided by the U.S. Supreme Court brings into question if he should receive the sole credit for the radio invention.


                                        Lonnie Johnson (Born October 6, 1949)

                                        Office of Naval Research / Flickr / CC-BY-2.0

                                        Inventor Lonnie Johnson holds more than 80 U.S. patents, but it's his invention of the Super Soaker toy that is perhaps his most endearing claim to fame. An engineer by training, Johnson has worked on both the stealth bomber project for the Air Force and the Galileo space probe for NASA. He also developed a means of harnessing solar and geothermal energy for power plants. The Super Soaker, first patented in 1986, is his most popular invention. It's racked up more than $1 billion in sales since its release.


                                        Patents and Honors

                                        Over the course of his career, Jones received more than 60 patents. While the majority pertained to refrigeration technologies, others related to X-ray machines, engines and sound equipment.

                                        Jones was recognized for his achievements both during his lifetime and after his death. In 1944, he became the first African American elected to the American Society of Refrigeration Engineers. Jones died of lung cancer in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on February 21, 1961.

                                        In 1991, President George H.W. Bush awarded the National Medal of Technology posthumously to Numero and Jones, presenting the awards to their widows at a ceremony held in the White House Rose Garden. Jones was the first African American to receive the award, though he did not live to receive it. He was inducted into the Minnesota Inventors Hall of Fame in 1977.