In one of my books “1001 Black Inventions” by Ersky Freeman (1991), I thought it would interesting to list a few of these inventions that have been researched with, accompanied by their patent number. African Americans have been responsible for many great inventions that we still use today.

• R.B. Spikes

Automatic transmission

December 6, 1932 – Patent No. 1,889,814

• Sarah Boone

The ironing board

April 26, 1892 – Patent No. 473,653

• J.T. White

Lemon squeezer

December 8, 1896 – Patent No. 572,849

• Elijah McCoy

Lubricating cup for machinery

December 15, 1898 – Patent No. 614,307

(The phrase “The Real McCoy,” derives from people who acknowledged his machines with his lubricating cup over imitators. The world’s machines still run on McCoy’s lubricating system)

• J.B. Rhodes


December 19, 1899 – Patent No. 639,290

• John H. Hunter

Portable scales

November 3, 1896 – Patent No. 570,553

• W.B. Purvis

Fountain pen

January 7, 1890 – Patent No. 419,065

• Thomas W. Stewart


June 13, 1893 – Patent No. 499,402

• Elbert Cox

Missile launch

August 1, 1967 – Patent No. 3,334,245

(Cox invented the means of setting a detonator after launch; previously, ballistic missiles were set to detonate before launch.)

• Garrett A. Morgan

Traffic light

November 20, 1923 – Patent No.1,475,024

• Dr. Daniel Hale Williams

Performed first successful heart surgery

March 27, 1893 -Provident Hospital Medical Records in Chicago

• Lewis H. Latimer

Method for producing carbon filaments
for electric lights

June 17, 1882

(Latimer made drawings for many of Alexander Graham Bells’ telephone patents. He also worked for the United States Electric Lighting Company, making many significant innovations in the development of electric lighting.)

• Madame C.J. Walker and Annie Turnbo Malone Both produced separate lines of hair products for women.