Friday, June 19, 2009

Black Inventors and their Inventions

When I saw a book titled Black Inventors, I knew I had to check it out. Think about the inventors you can name and consider how many of them are white. The only inventor of color I could think of was George Washington Carver, so I knew my worldview of inventors had to be skewed. So, in order to help us all unskew our view of inventors as white guys, I present you with some of the book's most interesting black inventors, as well as all the inventors listed from Kansas and Missouri:

1769 - Jamaican Dugald Clark patented a method to use steam power for sugar milling.

1821 - Thomas Jennings of Richmond, Virginia patented the dry cleaning technique of dry scouring clothes.

1834 - Jo Anderson co-invented the McCormick reaping machine.

1841 - Norbert Rillieux patented the sugar refining process.

1864 - Kansan William Douglass patented a self-binding harvester band twister, carrier chain, and several machine gun improvements.

1882 - Lewis Latimer discovered the filament that extends the life of a light bulb.

1884 - Jan Matzeliger patented shoe making devices that made the US world leader in shoe production.

1884 - Grant T. and brother Lyates Woods patented electrical dynamos, including the "third rail" for trains.

1889 - Missourian Daniel Johnson (a Kansas City resident, by the way) patented a lawn mower attachment, grass receivers for lawn mowers and a rotary dining table.

1909 - David Unaipon, an Australian Aborigine, patented an improvement for sheep shears.

1913 - Missourian Walter Majors patented nine items including a hair dryer, coin-controlled taxicab controller, monitor-controlling devices for taxis, an oil stove, an anti-skid device, a mimeograph attachment, a machine for treating hair and scalp, and more!

1919 - South African Santie Sabalala (while living in Ohio) patented a car brake.

1921 - Trinidadian Hubert Julian patented an airplane safety appliance.

1922 - Kansan John Arthur Johnson patented two theft-preventing devices for vehicles and a monkey wrench.

1939 - Bertha Berman patented the tooth brush holder, fitted bed sheet construction and a table cover.

1941 - Dr. Percy Lavon Julian created medicine, paints, lecithin and fire extinguishing foams out of soybeans.

1942 - Frederick Jones patented refrigerated units for trains, ships, planes and buses, allowing for the transportation of fruits, vegetables, frozen goods and medical supplies worldwide.

1943 - Norbert Rillieux of New Orleans revolutionized the sugar industry by inventing devices that convert sugar cane, beat and corn into sugar crystals.

1965 - Betsy Ancker-Johnson won patents for signal generators using semiconductor material in magnetic and electric fields, a radiant energy optical detector amplifier signal generator, solid state storage, switching devices and more.

1977 - Lonnie Johnson of Alabama invented the Super Soaker toy, patenting over 150 related items over the next 30 years.

1977 - Missourian Neil Thomas patented 42 chemical compounds for use in chemical treatment, demulsifiers, corrosion inhibitors, drilling fluids and water treating chemicals.

1984 - Bettye Greene developed many chemical processes related to latex paint.

1986 - Dosho Shifferaw of Ethiopia invented the Blowflex.

1995 - Missiourian Dannette Connor-Ward patented methods for soybean transformation and regeneration, sugar beet regeneration and transformation and efficiency soybean transformation protocol.

1996 - Sylvia Adae-Amoakoh patented three photographic developing compositions.

2001 - Christine Nare patented a formula to make alcoholic beverages from cereals and fruits.

For more black inventors visit

Related posts:
Perception and Reaction to Racism Not Equal
Continuum of Acceptance
Tony's Take on Racism in the Kansas City Area

Like what you see? Subscribe here or add to Mixx


Unknown said...

My name is Temeca "Dr. T" Richardson and I am an educator with nearly 15 years of experience in K-12 education.For years I have searched for materials for my students on Black Inventors and while there has been some information out there, I've never really come across any resources that gave me all that I needed. Here I may get useful resource.

May said...

Hope it helps :)

Term Papers said...

Great info, i glad to see this blog

College Term Papers