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February 2002, Volume 34, Number 2

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Black History Month
WSL highlights resources in honor
of African-American inventors

In honor of Black History Month, the Statewide Information Services (SIS) staff is highlighting Wyoming State Library resources on African-American inventors. Wyoming Facts
  • Jenkins, Edward Sidney, “To Fathom More: African American Scientists and Inventors,” Lanham, M.D., University Press of America, 1996, PTDL, Q 141 .J46 1996. The book presents biographies of “17 American men and women of African descent who made important contributions to science and society.”

  • Burt, McKinley Jr., Black Inventors of America,” Portland, Ore., National Book Company, 1989, PTDL T39 .B87 1989. This book includes biographical information on seven inventors and a more extensive patent and inventor index.

  • "From Dreams to Reality: A Tribute to Minority Inventors” PTDL C 21.2:M 66/X is a video from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Narrated by Ossie Davis, the video highlights minority inventors who have contributed to American science, technology and medicine.

  • The collection also includes a video with an educational booklet for students titled “Lewis Latimer: Renaissance Man, African-American Inventor, PTDL T 40 .L37 L3 1999. Lewis Latimer, the son of escaped slaves, became a skilled patent draftsman.

    He was the draftsman for Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone patent and worked for Thomas Edison. In 1890, he published a popular book that explained how an incandescent lamp produces light.

    He was also the only African-American to be a charter member of the prestigious Edison Pioneers. His life story is told through a puppet performance, and later there is a behind-the-scenes look at how puppets are made. The Aug. 10, 1894, Congressional Record includes “A Partial List of Patents Granted by the United States for inventions by Afro-Americans.”

The list was submitted by Rep. George Washington Murray from South Carolina to counter the “slanderers of our race who claim that we are not equal to others because we have failed to produce inventors because, as they say, we have not contributed to the progress that has been made in the invention of useful implements and machinery.” (Congressional Record, 53rd Congress, 2nd Session, v. 26, Part 8, Pages. 8382-8383.

The Great Lakes Patent and Trademark Center has created an African-American Inventors Database available at The database can be browsed or searched by inventor or invention.

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