Black Inventors and Inventions

Patent image of a steam engine piston
First Elijah McCoy Patent (US Patent No. 129843) for Improvements in Lubricators for Steam-Engines, July 28, 1872
Elijah McCoy portrait

BLACK GENIUS: African American Inventors and Innovators

African Americans have been prolific inventors and innovators. We have gathered on this page profiles of some of the most significant Black Inventors in the United State as well as some inventors of African Ancestry abroad. The main tabs show inventors and the dates of their first patents. Other tabs show inventors who did not receive patents and inventors outside the United States. This list will grow. If you think there are inventors who should be on this page please contact us at blackpast@blackpast.org.

Inventor Lifespan Date of First U.S. Patent
Thomas L. Jennings 1791-1856 1821
Henry Blair 1807-1860 1834
Norbert Rillieux 1806-1894 1846
Benjamin Bradley 1830-? 1856

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Inventor Lifespan Date of First U.S. Patent
Samuel Scottron 1843-1905 1868
Elijah McCoy 1843-1929 1872
Lewis H. Latimer 1848-1928 1874
Alexander P. Ashbourne 1820-1915 1875
Joseph W. Winters 1816-1916 1878
Leonard C. Bailey 1825-1918 1883
Jan Ernst Matzeliger 1852-1887 1883
Judy W. Reed c.1826-? 1884
John P. Parker 1827-1900 1884
Granville T. Woods 1856-1910 1884
Sarah Elisabeth Goode c.1855?-1905 1885
Alexander Miles 1838-1918 1887
Miriam Elizabeth Benjamin 1861-1947 1888
William B. Purvis 1838-1914 1890
Philip B. Downing 1857-1934 1890
Sarah Boone 1832-1904 1892
Hamilton Hatter 1856-1942 1893
George Washington Murray 1853-1926 1894
Charles B. Brooks 1865- ? 1896
John Lee Love ?-1931 1897
Alfred L. Cralle 1866–1920 1897
Lyda Newman 1885- ? 1898
George Franklin Grant 1847-1910 1899
Inventor Lifespan Date of First U.S. Patent
Garrett A. Morgan, Sr. 1877?-1963 1901
Henry E. Baker 1857-1928 1902 (Chronicler of Inventions)
Benjamin Pelham 1862-1948 1905
Richard Spikes 1878-1965 1907
Madeline M. Turner ? – ? 1916
Henry Binga Dismond 1891-1956 1919
Frederick McKinley Jones 1893-1961 1919
Alice H. Parker 1895- ? 1919
William Chester Ruth 1882-1971 1924
Marjorie Stewart Joyner 1896-1994 1928
David Nelson Crosthwait Jr. 1898-1976 1929
Bessie Blount Griffin 1914-2009 1951
Mary Kenner 1912-2006 1957
Otis Frank Boykin 1920-1982 1959
Inventor Lifespan Date of First U.S. Patent
James Edward Maceo West 1931- 1964
Marie Van Brittan 1922–1999 1966
George Carruthers 1939- 1969
Henry Thomas Sampson, Jr. 1934- 1971
Raye Jean Jordan Montague 1935-2018 1971
Emmett Chappelle 1925- 1976
Mark Dean 1957- 1981
Isiah M. Warner 1946- 1985
Lonnie Johnson 1949- 1986
Patricia Era Bath 1942- 1988
Robert F. Smith 1962- 1993
Marian R. Croak 1955- 2006
Janet Emerson Bashen 1957- 2006
Inventor Lifespan Invention Year
Lewis Temple 1800-1854 1848
George Crum 1824-1914 1853
Charles Chappelle 1872-1941 1911
Gloria Twine Chisum 1930- 1975
Inventor Lifespan Invention Year
William Peyton Hubbard 1842-1935 1861
André Pinto Rebouças 1838-1898 1866 (no patent)
David Wabeladio Payi 1957-2013 1982

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