Independent Historian

Eleanor Mahoney is a doctoral student of United States history at the University of Washington in Seattle, focusing on labor, the environment, memory and place in late nineteenth and twentieth-century America. She received a Bachelor of Arts in French and History from Amherst College and a Masters in Public History from Loyola University Chicago. She has previously worked for the National Park Service as Assistant National Coordinator for Heritage Areas and for a variety of heritage conservation and labor organizations in Appalachia, the Chesapeake Bay region and New Mexico.

Thomas Elkins (1818-1900)

An inventor, abolitionist, and trained medical professional, Dr. Thomas Elkins played a significant role in supporting the Underground Railroad in Albany, New York during the 1840s and 1850s. He also made an important contribution to the development of refrigeration techniques, and patented several inventions for other household furniture items during the latter … Read MoreThomas Elkins (1818-1900)

Philip B. Downing (1857-1934)

During the late nineteenth and the early twentieth century, Philip Bell Downing successfully filed at least five patents with the United States Patent Office. Among his most significant inventions were a street letter box (U.S. Patent numbers 462,092 and 462,093) and a mechanical device for operating street … Read MorePhilip B. Downing (1857-1934)

Miriam E. Benjamin (1861-1947)

On July 17, 1888, Miriam Elizabeth Benjamin became the second African American woman to receive a patent from the United States government for her invention of a gong and signal chair (U.S. Patent number 386,289). At the time of her application, Benjamin was living in Washington, D.C., working … Read MoreMiriam E. Benjamin (1861-1947)

Virgil Garnett Trice, Jr. (1926-1997)

Virgil Garnett Trice Jr., a respected chemical engineer and official with the U.S. Department of Energy, was one of only a small number of African Americans who held positions as nuclear scientists in the middle decades of the twentieth century. During a long career in public service, … Read MoreVirgil Garnett Trice, Jr. (1926-1997)

Green I. Currin (1842–1918)

Born in 1842, in Williamson County, Tennessee, Green I. Currin (sometimes referred to as G.I. or Jacob Curran) was the first African American to serve in the Oklahoma Territorial Legislature, winning election to its inaugural session in 1890. During the territorial period, Currin also served as a U.S. deputy marshal … Read MoreGreen I. Currin (1842–1918)

Alfred Fairfax (c.1843– c.1916)

Elected to the state House of Representatives in 1888, Alfred Fairfax was the first African American to serve in the Kansas legislature. A farmer and pastor, Fairfax represented the 58th District. During his single term in office (1889-1890), he served as chairman of the House Committee on Immigration and … Read MoreAlfred Fairfax (c.1843– c.1916)