The individuals and achievements presented in this exhibit are not intended to represent the full scope of the contributions of African Americans, but rather a small sampling of objects and information about some very special individuals. Much of the information available about African American inventors and their contributions to American life before 1910 comes to us through the efforts of two individuals, Charles H. Duell and Henry Edwin Baker.
Charles Duell and Henry Baker were both employed by the United States Patent Office during the 1800s and early 1900s; Duell as Commissioner of Patents and Baker as the Second Assistant Examiner. Even though the U.S. Patent Office has never recorded race or ethnicity on patent applications, in January 1900 Duell began the task of collecting information on the number of patents secured by African Americans. He corresponded with registered patent attorneys, manufacturing companies, and newspapers edited by African Americans, and from their responses recorded nearly 800 verified
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Samples from the Tubman Museum’s Inventors Gallery Collection:
Patent # 455,891
Neither Elkins or Stanard can be credited as the inventor of the refrigerator as we know it. However, Elkins’ 1879 design was an advance in the evolution of refrigeration devices, and Stanard’s 1891 design improvements made the invention more practical, and thus more useful.
|Lunchbox (Dinner Pail)|
Patent # 356,852
February 1, 1897
Robinson’s patented lunchbox design included a top compartment for food and a bottom compartment for liquids.
(Double Tank Pinch Trigger Pump Water Gun)
Lonnie G. Johnson
Patent # 5,150,819
September 29, 1992
Johnson is a NASA trained astronaut, engineer and inventor with over forty patents. He is a legendary businessman and inventor in his hometown of Marietta, Georgia.