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George Washiongton Carver   Leave a comment


George Washington Carver (January 1864[1][2] – January 5, 1943), was an American scientist, botanist, educator, and inventor. The exact day and year of his birth are unknown; he is believed to have been born into slavery in Missouri in January 1864.[1]

Carver’s reputation is based on his research into and promotion of alternative crops to cotton, such as peanuts, soybeans and sweet potatoes, which also aided nutrition for farm families. He wanted poor farmers to grow alternative crops both as a source of their own food and as a source of other products to improve their quality of life. The most popular of his 44 practical bulletins for farmers contained 105 food recipes using peanuts.[3] He also developed and promoted about 100 products made from peanuts that were useful for the house and farm, including cosmetics, dyes, paints, plastics, gasoline, and nitroglycerin. He received numerous honors for his work, including the Spingarn Medal of the NAACP.

During the Reconstruction-era South, monoculture of cotton depleted the soil in many areas. In the early 20th century, the boll weevil destroyed much of the cotton crop, and planters and farm workers suffered. Carver’s work on peanuts was intended to provide an alternative crop.

He was recognized for his many achievements and talents. In 1941, Time magazine dubbed Carver a “Black Leonardo”, a reference to the Renaissance Italian polymath, Leonardo da Vinci.[4]

Early years

Carver was born into slavery in Diamond Grove, Newton County, near Crystal Place, now known as Diamond, Missouri, possibly in 1864 or 1865, though the exact date is not known.[5][6] His master, Moses Carver, was a German American immigrant who had purchased George’s parents, Mary and Giles, from William P. McGinnis on October 9, 1855, for $700. Carver had 10 sisters and a brother, all of whom died prematurely.[citation needed]

When George was only a week old, George, a sister, and his mother were kidnapped by night raiders from Arkansas.[7] George’s brother, James, was rushed to safety from the kidnappers.[7] The kidnappers sold the slaves in Kentucky. Moses Carver hired John Bentley to find them, but he located only the infant George. Moses negotiated with the raiders to gain the boy’s return.[7] and rewarded Bentley.

After slavery was abolished, Moses Carver and his wife Susan raised George and his older brother James as their own children.[7] They encouraged George to continue his intellectual pursuits, and “Aunt Susan” taught him the basics of reading and writing.

Black people were not allowed at the public school in Diamond Grove. Learning there was a school for black children 10 miles (16 km) south in Neosho, George decided to go there. When he reached the town, he found the school closed for the night. He slept in a nearby barn. By his own account, the next morning he met a kind woman, Mariah Watkins, from whom he wished to rent a room. When he identified himself as “Carver’s George,” as he had done his whole life, she replied that from now on his name was “George Carver”. George liked this lady very much, and her words, “You must learn all you can, then go back out into the world and give your learning back to the people”, made a great impression on him.

At the age of thirteen, due to his desire to attend the academy there, he relocated to the home of another foster family in Fort Scott, Kansas. After witnessing a black man killed by a group of whites, Carver left the city. He attended a series of schools before earning his diploma at Minneapolis High School in the Kansas town of the same name.

College

At work in his laboratory

Carver applied to several colleges before being accepted at Highland College in Highland, Kansas. when he arrived, they rejected him because of his race. In August 1886, Carver traveled by wagon with J. F. Beeler from Highland to Eden Township in Ness County, Kansas.[8] He homesteaded a claim[9] near Beeler, where he maintained a small conservatory of plants and flowers and a geological collection. He manually plowed 17 acres (69,000 m2) of the claim, planting rice, corn, Indian corn and garden produce, as well as various fruit trees, forest trees, and shrubbery. He also earned money by odd jobs in town and worked as a ranch hand.[8]

In early 1888, Carver obtained a $300 loan at the Bank of Ness City for education. By June he left the area.[8] In 1890, Carver started studying art and piano at Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa.[10] His art teacher, Etta Budd, recognized Carver’s talent for painting flowers and plants; she encouraged him to study botany at Iowa State Agricultural College in Ames.[10] When he began in 1891, he was the first black student, and later taught as the first black faculty member.

When he completed his B.S., professors Joseph Budd and Louis Pammel convinced Carver to continue at Iowa State for his master’s degree. Carver did research at the Iowa Experiment Station under Pammel during the next two years. His work at the experiment station in plant pathology and mycology first gained him national recognition and respect as a botanist.

At Tuskegee

George Washington Carver (front row, center) poses with fellow faculty of Tuskegee Institute in this c. 1902 photograph taken by Frances Benjamin Johnston.

In 1896, Booker T. Washington, the first principal and president of the Tuskegee Institute, invited Carver to head its Agriculture Department. Carver taught there for 47 years, developing the department into a strong research center and working with two additional college presidents during his tenure. He taught methods of crop rotation, introduced several alternative cash crops for farmers that would also improve the soil of areas heavily cultivated in cotton, initiated research into crop products (chemurgy), and taught generations of black students farming techniques for self-sufficiency.

Carver designed a mobile classroom to take education out to farmers. He called it a “Jesup wagon” after the New York financier and philanthropist Morris Ketchum Jesup, who provided funding to support the program.[11]

To recruit Carver to Tuskegee, Washington gave him a higher-than-normal salary and two rooms for his personal use, both of which concessions were resented by some other faculty. Because he had earned a master’s in a scientific field from a “white” institution, some faculty perceived him as arrogant when a young man.[12] Unmarried faculty members normally had to share rooms, with two to a room, in the spartan early days of the institute.

One of Carver’s duties was to administer the Agricultural Experiment Station farms. He had to manage the production and sale of farm products to generate revenue for the Institute. He soon proved to be a poor administrator. In 1900, Carver complained that the physical work and the letter-writing required were too much.[13] In 1904, an Institute committee reported that Carver’s reports on yields from the poultry yard were exaggerated, and Washington confronted Carver about the issue. Carver replied in writing, “Now to be branded as a liar and party to such hellish deception it is more than I can bear, and if your committee feel that I have willfully lied or [was] party to such lies as were told my resignation is at your disposal.”[14] During Washington’s last five years at Tuskegee, Carver submitted or threatened his resignation several times: when the administration reorganized the agriculture programs,[15] when he disliked a teaching assignment,[16] to manage an experiment station elsewhere,[17] and when he did not get summer teaching assignments in 1913-1914.[18][19] In each case, Washington smoothed things over.

Carver circa 1910

Carver started his academic career as a researcher and teacher, which he clearly preferred. In 1911, Washington wrote a letter to him complaining that Carver had not followed orders to plant particular crops at the experiment station This revealed Washington’s micro-management of Carver’s department, which he had headed for more than 10 years by then. Washington at the same time refused Carver’s requests for a new laboratory, research supplies for his exclusive use, and respite from teaching classes. Washington praised Carver’s abilities in teaching and original research but said about his administrative skills:

“When it comes to the organization of classes, the ability required to secure a properly organized and large school or section of a school, you are wanting in ability. When it comes to the matter of practical farm managing which will secure definite, practical, financial results, you are wanting again in ability.”

In 1911, Carver complained that his laboratory had not received the equipment which Washington had promised 11 months before. He also complained about Institute committee meetings.[20] Washington praised Carver in his 1911 memoir, My Larger Education: Being Chapters from My Experience.[21] Washington called Carver “one of the most thoroughly scientific men of the Negro race with whom I am acquainted.” [22] After Washington died in 1915, his successor made fewer demands on Carver for administrative tasks.

From 1915 to 1923, Carver concentrated on researching and experimenting with new uses for peanuts, sweet potatoes, soybeans, pecans, and other crops, as well as having his assistants research and compile existing uses.[23] This work, and especially his speaking to a national conference of the Peanut Growers Association in 1920 and in testimony before Congress in 1921 to support passage of a tariff on imported peanuts, brought him wide publicity and increasing renown. In these years, he became one of the most well-known African Americans of his time.

Rise to fame

“One of America’s great scientists.” U.S. World War II poster circa 1943

Carver developed techniques to improve soils depleted by repeated plantings of cotton. Together with other agricultural experts, he urged farmers to restore nitrogen to their soils by practicing systematic crop rotation: alternating cotton crops with plantings of sweet potatoes or legumes (such as peanuts, soybeans and cowpeas). These both restored nitrogen to the soil and the crops were good for human consumption. Following the crop rotation practice resulted in improved cotton yields and gave farmers alternative cash crops. To train farmers to successfully rotate and cultivate the new crops, Carver developed an agricultural extension program for Alabama that was similar to the one at Iowa State. To encourage better nutrition in the South, he widely distributed recipes using the alternative crops.

In addition, he founded an industrial research laboratory, where he and assistants worked to popularize the new crops by developing hundreds of applications for them. They did original research as well as promoting applications and recipes which they collected from others. Carver distributed his information as agricultural bulletins. (See Carver bulletins below.)

Peanut specimen collected by Carver

Carver’s work was known by officials in the national capital before he became a public figure. President Theodore Roosevelt publicly admired his work. Former professors of Carver’s from Iowa State University were appointed to positions as Secretary of Agriculture: James Wilson, a former dean and professor of Carver’s, served from 1897 to 1913. Henry Cantwell Wallace served from 1921 to 1924. He knew Carver personally as his son Henry A. Wallace and the researcher were friends.[24] The younger Wallace served as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture from 1933 to 1940, and as Franklin Delano Roosevelt‘s vice president from 1941 to 1945.

The American industrialist, farmer, and inventor William Edenborn of Winn Parish, Louisiana, grew peanuts on his demonstration farm. He consulted with Carver[25]

In 1916 Carver was made a member of the Royal Society of Arts in England, one of only a handful of Americans at that time to receive this honor. Carver’s promotion of peanuts gained him the most notability. In 1919, Carver wrote to a peanut company about the potential he saw for peanut milk. Both he and the peanut industry seemed unaware that in 1917 William Melhuish had secured patent #1,243,855 for a milk substitute made from peanuts and soybeans.

The United Peanut Associations of America invited Carver to speak at their 1920 convention. He discussed “The Possibilities of the Peanut” and exhibited 145 peanut products. By 1920, the U.S. peanut farmers were being undercut by low prices on imported peanuts from the Republic of China.

In 1921 peanut farmers and industry representatives planned to appear at Congressional hearings to ask for a tariff. Based on the quality of Carver’s presentation at their convention, they asked the African-American professor to testify on the tariff issue before the Ways and Means Committee of the United States House of Representatives. Due to segregation, it was highly unusual for an African American to appear as an expert witness at Congress representing European-American industry and farmers. Southern congressmen, reportedly shocked at Carver’s arriving to testify, were said to have mocked him.[citation needed] As he talked about the importance of the peanut and its uses for American agriculture, the committee members repeatedly extended the time for his testimony. The Fordney-McCumber Tariff of 1922 was passed including one on imported peanuts. Carver’s testifying to Congress made him widely known as a public figure.

Life while famous

United States Farm Security Administration portrait, March 1942

During the last two decades of his life, Carver seemed to enjoy his celebrity status. He was often to be found on the road promoting Tuskegee, peanuts, and racial harmony. Although he only published six agricultural bulletins after 1922, he published articles in peanut industry journals and wrote a syndicated newspaper column, “Professor Carver’s Advice”. Business leaders came to seek his help, and he often responded with free advice. Three American presidents—Theodore Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge and Franklin Roosevelt—met with him, and the Crown Prince of Sweden studied with him for three weeks. From 1923 to 1933, Carver toured white Southern colleges for the Commission on Interracial Cooperation.[23]

With his increasing notability, Carver became the subject of biographies and articles. Raleigh H. Merritt contacted him for his biography published in 1929. Merritt wrote,

“At present not a great deal has been done to utilize Dr. Carver’s discoveries commercially. He says that he is merely scratching the surface of scientific investigations of the possibilities of the peanut and other Southern products.”[26]

In 1932 the writer James Saxon Childers wrote that Carver and his peanut products were almost solely responsible for the rise in U.S. peanut production after the boll weevil devastated the American cotton crop beginning about 1892. His article, “A Boy Who Was Traded for a Horse” (1932), in The American Magazine, and its 1937 reprint in Reader’s Digest, contributed to this myth about Carver’s influence. Other popular media tended to exaggerate Carver’s impact on the peanut industry.[27]

From 1933 to 1935, Carver worked to develop peanut oil massages to treat infantile paralysis (polio).[23] Ultimately researchers found that the massages, not the peanut oil, provided the benefits of maintaining some mobility to paralyzed limbs.

From 1935 to 1937, Carver participated in the USDA Disease Survey. Carver had specialized in plant diseases and mycology for his master’s degree.

In 1937, Carver attended two chemurgy conferences, an emerging field in the 1930s, during the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, concerned with developing new products from crops.[23] He was invited by Henry Ford to speak at the conference held in Dearborn, Michigan, and they developed a friendship. That year Carver’s health declined, and Ford later installed an elevator at the Tuskegee dormitory where Carver lived, so that the elderly man would not have to climb stairs.[4][28]

Carver had been frugal in his life, and in his 70s established a legacy by creating a museum on his work and the George Washington Carver Foundation at Tuskegee in 1938 to continue agricultural research. He donated nearly $60,000 in his savings to create the foundation.[28]

Legacy and honors

Personal life

Carver never married and there is little documented information about his private life. He was included in the 2007 encyclopedia glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Culture, however there is no direct documentation of his alleged homosexuality.[29][30][31]

When he was 70, Carver established a friendship and research partnership with the scientist Austin W. Curtis, Jr, a much younger graduate of Cornell University who had some teaching experience. Carver bequeathed to Curtis his royalties from an authorized 1943 biography by Rackham Holt.[32]

After Carver died in 1943, Curtis was fired from Tuskegee Institute. He left Alabama and resettled in Detroit. He manufactured and sold peanut-based personal care products.[33]

Death and legacy

Painting by Betsy Graves Reyneau

Upon returning home one day, Carver took a bad fall down a flight of stairs; he was found unconscious by a maid who took him to a hospital. Carver died January 5, 1943, at the age of 78 from complications (anemia) resulting from this fall. He was buried next to Booker T. Washington at Tuskegee University. Due to his frugality, Carver’s life savings totaled $60,000, all of which he donated in his last years and at his death to the Carver Museum and to the George Washington Carver Foundation.[34]

On his grave was written, He could have added fortune to fame, but caring for neither, he found happiness and honor in being helpful to the world.

A movement to establish a U.S. national monument to Carver began before his death. Because of World War II, such non-war expenditures were banned by presidential order. Missouri senator Harry S. Truman sponsored a bill in favor of a monument. In a committee hearing on the bill, one supporter said,

“The bill is not simply a momentary pause on the part of busy men engaged in the conduct of the war, to do honor to one of the truly great Americans of this country, but it is in essence a blow against the Axis, it is in essence a war measure in the sense that it will further unleash and release the energies of roughly 15,000,000 Negro people in this country for full support of our war effort.”[23]

The bill passed unanimously in both houses.

1948 US postage stamp

On July 14, 1943,[35] President Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicated $30,000 for the George Washington Carver National Monument west-southwest of Diamond, Missouri—the area where Carver had spent time in his childhood. This was the first national monument dedicated to an African American and the first to honor someone other than a president. The 210-acre (0.8 km2) national monument complex includes a bust of Carver, a ¾-mile nature trail, a museum, the 1881 Moses Carver house, and the Carver cemetery. The national monument was not opened until July 1953.

In December 1947, a fire broke out in the Carver Museum, and much of the collection was damaged. Time Magazine reported that all but three of the 48 Carver paintings at the museum were destroyed. His best-known painting, displayed at the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago, depicts a yucca and cactus. This canvas survived and has undergone conservation. It is displayed together with several of his other paintings. [36] Carver appeared on U.S. commemorative stamps in 1948 and 1998, and he was depicted on a commemorative half dollar coin from 1951 to 1954. Two ships, the Liberty ship SS George Washington Carver and the nuclear submarine USS George Washington Carver (SSBN-656) were named in his honor.

In 1977, Carver was elected to the Hall of Fame for Great Americans. In 1990, Carver was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. In 1994, Iowa State University awarded Carver Doctor of Humane Letters. In 2000, Carver was a charter inductee in the USDA Hall of Heroes as the “Father of Chemurgy”.[37]

In 2002, scholar Molefi Kete Asante listed George Washington Carver on his list of 100 Greatest African Americans.[38]

In 2005, Carver’s research at the Tuskegee Institute was designated a National Historic Chemical Landmark by the American Chemical Society.[39] On February 15, 2005, an episode of Modern Marvels included scenes from within Iowa State University’s Food Sciences Building and about Carver’s work. In 2005, the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, Missouri, opened a George Washington Carver garden in his honor, which includes a life-size statue of him.

Many institutions honor George Washington Carver to this day. Dozens of elementary schools and high schools are named after him. National Basketball Association star David Robinson and his wife, Valerie, founded an academy named after Carver; it opened on September 17, 2001, in San Antonio, Texas.[40]

Reputed inventions

George Washington Carver reputedly discovered three hundred uses for peanuts and hundreds more for soybeans, pecans and sweet potatoes. Among the listed items that he suggested to southern farmers to help them economically were adhesives, axle grease, bleach, buttermilk, chili sauce, fuel briquettes (a biofuel), ink, instant coffee, linoleum, mayonnaise, meat tenderizer, metal polish, paper, plastic, pavement, shaving cream, shoe polish, synthetic rubber, talcum powder and wood stain. Three patents (one for cosmetics; patent number 1,522,176, and two for paints and stains; patent numbers 1,541,478 and 1,632,365) were issued to George Washington Carver in the years 1925 to 1927; however, they were not commercially successful.[41] Aside from these patents and some recipes for food, Carver left no records of formulae or procedures for making his products.[42] He did not keep a laboratory notebook.

Carver’s research was intended to provide replacements for commercial products, which were generally beyond the budget of the small one-horse farmer. A misconception grew that his research on products for subsistence farmers were developed by others commercially to change Southern agriculture.[43][44] Carver’s work to provide them with resources for more independence from the cash economy foreshadowed the “appropriate technology” work of E.F. Schumacher.

Peanut products

Dennis Keeney, director of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University, wrote in the Leopold Letter (newsletter):

Carver worked on improving soils, growing crops with low inputs, and using species that fixed nitrogen (hence, the work on the cowpea and the peanut). Carver wrote in ‘The Need of Scientific Agriculture in the South’: “The virgin fertility of our soils and the vast amount of unskilled labor have been more of a curse than a blessing to agriculture. This exhaustive system for cultivation, the destruction of forest, the rapid and almost constant decomposition of organic matter, have made our agricultural problem one requiring more brains than of the North, East or West.”[45]

Carver marketed a few of his peanut products. The Carver Penol Company sold a mixture of creosote and peanuts as a patent medicine for respiratory diseases such as tuberculosis. Other ventures were The Carver Products Company and the Carvoline Company. Carvoline Antiseptic Hair Dressing was a mix of peanut oil and lanolin. Carvoline Rubbing Oil was a peanut oil for massages.

Carver was often credited with the invention of peanut butter. While he may have made peanut butter, the preparation arose in other cultures independently. The Aztecs were known to have made it from ground peanuts in the 15th century.[46][47]

Sweet potato products

Carver is also associated with sweet potato products. In his 1922 sweet potato bulletin, Carver listed a few dozen recipes, “many of which I have copied verbatim from Bulletin No. 129, U. S. Department of Agriculture”.[48] Carver’s records included the following sweet potato products: 73 dyes, 17 wood fillers, 14 candies, 5 library pastes, 5 breakfast foods, 4 starches, 4 flours, and 3 molasses.[49] He also had listings for vinegars, dry coffee and instant coffee, candy, after-dinner mints, orange drops, and lemon drops.

Carver bulletins

During his more than four decades at Tuskegee, Carver’s official published work consisted mainly of 44 practical bulletins for farmers.[50] His first bulletin in 1898 was on feeding acorns to farm animals. His final bulletin in 1943 was about the peanut. He also published six bulletins on sweet potatoes, five on cotton, and four on cowpeas. Some other individual bulletins dealt with alfalfa, wild plum, tomato, ornamental plants, corn, poultry, dairying, hogs, preserving meats in hot weather, and nature study in schools.

His most popular bulletin, How to Grow the Peanut and 105 Ways of Preparing it for Human Consumption, was first published in 1916[3] and was reprinted many times. It gave a short overview of peanut crop production and contained a list of recipes from other agricultural bulletins, cookbooks, magazines, and newspapers, such as the Peerless Cookbook, Good Housekeeping, and Berry’s Fruit Recipes. Carver’s was far from the first American agricultural bulletin devoted to peanuts,[51][52][53][54][55] but his bulletins did seem to be more popular and widespread than previous ones.

Religion

George Washington Carver believed he could have faith both in God and science and integrated them into his life. He testified on many occasions that his faith in Jesus was the only mechanism by which he could effectively pursue and perform the art of science.   George Washington Carver became a Christian when he was ten years old. When he was still a young boy, he was not expected to live past his twenty-first birthday due to failing health. He lived well past the age of twenty-one, and his belief deepened as a result.[22] Throughout his career, he always found friendship with other Christians. He relied on them especially when criticized by the scientific community and media regarding his research methodology.[57]

Carver viewed faith in Jesus as a means of destroying both barriers of racial disharmony and social stratification.[58] He was as concerned with his students’ character development as he was with their intellectual development. He compiled a list of eight cardinal virtues for his students to strive toward:

A monument to Carver at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis

  • Be clean both inside and out.
  • Neither look up to the rich nor down on the poor.
  • Lose, if need be, without squealing.
  • Win without bragging.
  • Always be considerate of women, children, and older people.
  • Be too brave to lie.
  • Be too generous to cheat.
  • Take your share of the world and let others take theirs.[40]

Beginning in 1906 at Tuskegee, Carver led a Bible class on Sundays for several students at their request. He regularly portrayed stories by acting them out.[40] He responded to critics with this: “When you do the common things in life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world.”[59]

Christian book series for children and adults about great men and women of faith feature George Washington Carver as a figure of faith and achievement. One such series, the Sower series, includes his story alongside those of such men as Isaac Newton, Samuel Morse, Johannes Kepler, and the Wright brothers. Other Christian literary references include Man’s Slave, God’s Scientist, by David R. Collins. Sam Wellman’s Heroes of the Faith series includes George Washington Carver: Inventor and Naturalist.

Posted March 1, 2012 by pennylibertygbow in Inventors

Elizabeth Keckley, Dressmaker to Mary Todd Lincoln   Leave a comment


Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley (February 1818 – May 1907)[1] (sometimes spelled Keckly) [2] was a former slave turned successful seamstress who is most notably known as being Mary Todd Lincoln‘s personal modiste and confidante, and the author of her autobiography, Behind the Scenes Or, Thirty Years a Slave and Four Years in the White House. Mrs. Keckley utilized her intelligence, keen business savvy, and sewing and design skills to arrange and ultimately buy her freedom (and that of her son George as well), and later enjoyed regular business with the wives of the government elite as her base clientele.

After several years in St. Louis, she moved to Washington, D.C. in the spring of 1860. Utilizing both perseverance and an ability to ingratiate herself with those of influence, she was able to distinguish herself among notable women of society in the nation’s capitol who sought out her dressmaking skills. Among her clients were Varnia Davis, wife of Jefferson Davis, and Mary Anne Randolph Custis Lee, wife of Robert E. Lee.

Keckly’s relationship with the President’s wife, Mary Todd Lincoln was the most noteworthy as it was distinguished not only by its endurance over time but the nature of the association. A mutual respect and trust was established between the two women and Keckly was not only dressmaker to the First Lady, but an invaluable confidante to Mrs. Lincoln in times of emotional crisis.

  Early life

Elizabeth Keckly was born a slave in February 1818 in Dinwiddie County Court House, Dinwiddie, Virginia, just south of Petersburg. Her mother, Agnes, was a slave, owned by Armistead and Mary Burwell. ‘Aggy’ as she was called, was considered a ‘privileged slave’, learning to read and write despite the fact that it was illegal for slaves to do so. Her biological father, whose real identity was revealed to her later on in life, was Armistead Burwell.[3] In fact, Keckley didn’t find out that Armistead Burwell was her father until her mother was on her death bed, and announced it to her.[4]

The exact nature of the relationship between Agnes and Burwell is unknown. Agnes was later permitted to marry George Pleasant Hobbs. George Hobbs was also a literate slave, residing at the home of a neighbor during Elizabeth Keckley’s early childhood. Hobbs was eventually estranged from his wife and stepdaughter when his owner moved far away.

Keckley resided in the Burwell house with her mother, and began official duties at age five when it was decided that, because the Burwells had four other children under the age of ten, she would become the nursemaid for their infant daughter, Elizabeth Margaret.[5] Taking on the responsibility as a young child, she also came to understand the dynamics of a slave’s existence early in her life. While looking after the baby one day, she accidentally tipped the cradle over too far, and the infant rolled onto the floor. This resulted in the beginning of many painful episodes of abuse that Keckley had to endure.

 Teenage years

In 1832, at age fourteen, Keckley was sent to live “on generous loan” with the eldest Burwell son, Robert, and his wife, Margaret Anna Robertson, in Chesterfield County, Virginia, near Petersburg.[6] Burwell’s wife demonstrated particular contempt for Elizabeth, and made home life for the next four years most uncomfortable for her. Keckley mentioned that Mrs. Burwell seemed ‘desirous to wreak vengeance’[7] upon her, and enlisted the help of their neighbor William J. Bingham to help subdue her “stubborn pride”. Despite the hardships she endured, Keckley wrote many letters during her time there.

When Keckley was eighteen, Bingham called her to his quarters for unexplained reasons and ordered her to undress so that he could beat her. Keckley immediately refused, citing that in addition to her being a fully developed woman, that he “shall not whip me unless you prove the stronger. Nobody has a right to whip me but my own master, and nobody shall do so if I can prevent it.”[8] He proceeded to bind her hands and beat her, resulting in Elizabeth returning home with bleeding welts upon her back.

One week later, Mr. Bingham attacked her again and flogged her until he was exhausted. During these beatings, Elizabeth refused to show great emotion, and suppressed her tears and voice with all of her will. The following week, after yet another attempt to “break her”, Bingham had a change of heart, “burst[ing] into tears, and declar[ing] that it would be a sin” to beat her anymore.[9] He stopped beating her, asked for her forgiveness. Unfortunately, Robert Burwell began to beat her. Keckley refused to show emotion and after a few furious beatings he also declared that he would beat her no longer. Keckley claims that he kept his word.[10]

Keckley then became the victim of sexual abuse while living in Hillsborough, North Carolina. For four years, a man by the name of Alexander M. Kirkland forced a sexual relationship upon Keckley, which she said caused “suffering and deep mortification”[11] She ended up bearing a son by Kirkland, naming the child George after her stepfather.[12] George was later killed in action on August 10, 1861, while serving as a soldier with the Union forces. After many difficulties in establishing her son’s racial identity (George passed as white in order to serve in the Union Army), Keckley was able to procure a pension for an initial monthly amount of $8 (later raised to $12) for the remainder of her life.

 Road to freedom

By early 1842, Armistead Burwell was deceased, and his mistress and her slaves went back to Virginia to live with her daughter, Anne, and son-in-law, Hugh A. Garland. Due to financial difficulties in the Garland family, several decisions were made in order to support the large family and slave inventory. Some of the slave children were sold, and some were hired out, but Keckley and her mother remained with their mistress. After many moves, in 1847 the Garlands moved to St. Louis. Anne relied heavily upon Agnes and Elizabeth to help with the care of her children, and to do all of the family sewing. Keckley would eventually create opportunities for herself in St. Louis. Working for nearly twelve years in St. Louis afforded her the opportunities to mingle with a rather large free black population as well as establish connections that she would use to become a dressmaker for the town’s white upperclass women.[13]

Keckley met her future husband, James, but refused to marry him until she and her son were free. With marriage in mind, she began her campaign for freedom. She approached Hugh Garland and asked if she could manumit herself and her son. Garland flatly refused. Determined to not let the subject rest, she kept trying to get permission for two years. In 1852, Garland agreed to release them for $1,200.[14]

Steadfast in her quest to raise the money needed, she began to entertain the idea of going to New York to “appeal to the benevolence of the people.”[15] One of her patrons, Mrs. Elizabeth (Lizzie) Le Bourgeois, didn’t want Keckley to travel “to New York to beg for money” to buy her freedom, stating that she had given the matter some thought and that “it would be a shame to allow you to go North to beg for what we should give you.”[16] With the help of her patrons, she was able to gather the money to buy her and her son’s freedom, and was emancipated in November 1855.[17] Keckley kept her promise to repay her patrons, choosing to remain in St. Louis until this was accomplished.

During her final years in St. Louis, Keckley worked very hard at making progress in her business as well as personal life. Keckley began to look beyond life in St. Louis. She enrolled her son in the newly established Wilberforce University. She also proceeded to make formal plans to leave St. Louis, leaving her husband after almost eight years of marriage.[18]

Her departure from St. Louis in early 1860 took her to Baltimore, Maryland, where she had hoped to form “classes of young colored women” to teach them her system of cutting and fitting dresses. She said that her “scheme was not successful, for after six weeks of labor and vexation, I left Baltimore with scarcely money enough to pay my fare to Washington.”[19] At the time, Maryland was passing many strict and repressive laws in order to control the free blacks within the state. In her autobiography, she did not go into detail as to the reasons for her lack of success but a combination of racism, sexism, and class prejudices most likely played a role.

  Journey to the Capital

In mid-1860, after finding herself unsuccessful in establishing her school in Baltimore, Keckley planned to go to Washington, D.C. to start a new life. She intended to work as a seamstress as she had done in St. Louis, yet, there was a troublesome obstacle in her way. Almost destitute from her time spent in Maryland, she lacked the money to be able to purchase a license for her to be able to remain in the city for more than thirty days. Always resourceful, Keckley found a way through one of her patrons. A Ms. Ringold used her connection to Mayor James G. Berret to petition for a license for Elizabeth; upon her request Berrett not only granted her the license, but granted it free of charge.[20]

With her new license, she was able to concentrate more closely on networking and supporting herself. Commissions for dresses were steadily coming in, but the dress that she completed for Mrs. Robert E. Lee sparked her business’ rapid growth. Keckley found most of her work with the women of society by word-of-mouth recommendations; after completing several dresses, she came upon a commission that she almost let go.

Mrs. Margaret McLean of Maryland, who was introduced by way of Mrs. Varina Davis, approached Keckley with a demand to have a dress made. Keckley attempted to politely decline the work, because of her already heavy order commitments. However, Mrs. McLean would not accept no for an answer. She also stressed she needed to complete the dress urgently, all the while reminding her that she had the means to introduce Keckley to ‘the people in the White House’.[21] After working tirelessly, Keckley finished the dress for Mrs. McLean, and the following week Mrs. McLean called for Keckley and instructed her to go to the Lincolns’ suite, where her presence had been requested by Mrs. Lincoln.

  The White House years

Elizabeth Keckley was introduced to Mary Todd Lincoln on March 4, 1861, the day of Abraham Lincoln‘s first inauguration. Mrs. Lincoln, in the midst of preparing for the day’s festivities, requested that Keckley return to the White House the following morning for an interview. Upon arrival, Keckley was dismayed to find other women assembled, all competing to win favor with the new First Lady. For Keckley the day was triumphant—Mrs. Lincoln had chosen her for the position of personal modiste. Leaving the White House that day, Keckley carried with her the first of many dresses for which Mrs. Lincoln would require the seamstress’s dress making expertise.

For the next six years, Keckley would become an intimate witness to the private life of the First Family. In addition to utilizing her inestimable dress making skills, Keckley’s other responsibility was to assist Mrs. Lincoln at the start of each day acting as her personal dresser. This function extended to aiding Mrs. Lincoln as she prepared for her appearance at official receptions and other social events. Mrs. Lincoln who was known for her love of fashion, kept Keckley busy maintaining and executing new creations for the First Lady’s increasingly extensive wardrobe. Within four months Keckley completed approximately sixteen dresses. Mrs. Lincoln, a woman plagued by anxieties, emotional problems, and subject to inconsistent moods, could be difficult to deal with. It was the opinion of Rosetta Wells that Keckley was “the only person in Washington who could get along with Mrs. Lincoln, when she became mad with anybody for talking about her and criticizing her husband.” The friendship that grew out of the intimacy that was shared between the two women is what fostered Keckley’s life-long loyalty to the First Lady.

During the Lincoln administration (and many years afterward), Keckley was the sole designer and creator of Mary Todd Lincoln’s event wardrobe. In January 1862, Mrs. Lincoln posed at Brady’s Washington Photography Studio, showing off two of Elizabeth Keckley’s gowns. For several years to come, Mary Lincoln would attend many affairs and continue to pose for more portraits showcasing Keckley’s talents.

During this time, Keckley herself would also enjoy semi-celebrity status within the black community, and used her various connections to establish the Contraband Relief Association, a group designed to help suffering and disadvantaged black people. Keckley petitioned and solicited for donations, receiving frequent contributions from both the President and the First Lady.

 Contraband Relief Association

Keckley founded the Contraband Relief Association in August 1862.[22] The organization changed its name in July 1864 to the Ladies’ Freedmen and Soldier’s Relief Association to “reflect its expanded mission.”[23] The CRA provided food, shelter, clothing, and emotional support to recently freed slaves and/or sick and wounded soldiers. The organization was based in Washington D.C., but the funds distributed and the services provided surpassed county lines. Although the Contraband Relief Association has been disremembered, the organization set the standards and exposed the need for relief organizations in the realm of providing aid to the economically deprived and physically displaced black community. The Contraband Relief Association networked rigorously within the black community and this yielded black autonomy. Through intra-ethnic networking the Contraband Relief Association was able to achieve their mission of creating an organization by and for African Americans.

In Keckley’s autobiography, she verbalized the circumstance of contrabands within Washington D.C. Keckley wrote that ex-slaves were not going to find “flowery paths, days of perpetual sunshine, and bowers hanging with golden fruit” in Washington D.C. but that” the road was rugged and full of thorns.”[24] With her own eyes she saw that “[their] appeal for help too often was answered by cold neglect.”[24] Because Keckley had experienced slavery herself, she was empathetic towards former slaves and wanted to do something in order to relieve their suffering. One summer evening, Keckley witnessed “a festival given for the benefit of the sick and wounded soldiers in the city.”[25] Consequently, she questioned that if “white people can give festivals to raise funds for the relief of the suffering soldiers, why should not the well-to-do colored people go to work to do something for the benefit of the suffering blacks?”[25] Keckley suggested to her colored friends “a society of colored people be formed to labor for the benefit of the unfortunate freedmen.”[25] Her idea generated support, and in August 1862 the Contraband Relief Association was founded.[26]

The CRA utilized black religious spaces such as the Twelfth Baptist Church, Fifteenth Street Presbyterian Church, Israel African Methodist Episcopal Church, and the Siloam Presbyterian Church.[27] The organization held fundraisers such as old folk’s concerts, speeches, dramatic readings, and festivals at these particular religious spaces.[28] Some of the prominent black figures who spoke on behalf of the organization included Frederick Douglass, Henry Highland Garnet, J. Sella Martin,and Wendell Phillips.

The CRA’s receipts were “$838.68 the first year and $1,228.43 the second year. 5,150 articles of clothing had been received during that time.”[29] According to the first annual report the organization did indeed establish an organization “by and for black people.” The CRA affirmed that “every effort made by us to obtain funds to alleviate in any way the distresses of our afflicted brethren has been crowned with success.”[29] Out of the $838.68, approximately $600 was given by and raised by black ran and/or predominately black organizations such as the Freedmen’s Relief Association of District of Columbia, Fugitive Aid Society of Boston, Waiters of Metropolitan Hotel, and the Young Misses of Baltimore.[30]

Keckley exclaimed that the CRA was formed “for the purpose, not only of relieving he wants of those destitute people, but also to sympathize with, and advise them,” and the CRA fulfilled their purpose.[31] The CRA distributed clothes, food, and shelter amongst the freedmen. The CRA sent funds to many freedmen. Jean Fagan Yellin notes that the CRA sent $50 to the sick and wounded soldier’s at Alexandria.[32] The CRA hosted Christmas dinners for sick and wounded soldiers.[33] The organization distributed food to other organizations.[34] In addition to the tangible items distributed by the CRA, the organization helped to place African American teachers in the newly built schools.[35] The entire community had recognized, valued, and thanked “the officers and the members of the Association for their kindness and attentive duties to the sick and wounded;” yet the organization has escaped public history.[36] The Contraband Relief Association was implemented and run by African Americans; however, the legacy of the organization did not survive to become a legacy for generations to follow.

 Commonality through tragedy

Upon arrival at the White House, the Lincolns had two young children, William and Tad. Due to Keckley’s intimate involvement with the family, she was privy to many of the trials of the family. She also assumed domestic duties like looking after the children, including during periods of sickness. No stranger to loss, Keckley would serve as a steady and reliable source of strength and comfort for the family after the two boys died.

Keckley also comforted the First Lady after the President’s assassination. Consumed with grief and despair, Mrs. Lincoln opted to seclude herself from the world and invite a chosen few into her quarters. Finding Lincoln in a critically delicate and unstable state, Keckley would yet again provide the solace, comfort, and reliability that Mrs. Lincoln so desperately required.

Mrs. Lincoln proceeded to rid herself of reminders of her husband by giving many personal items away to people close to her, including Mrs. Keckley. During the disposal process, Keckley acquired the blood-spattered cloak and bonnet that Mary Lincoln wore the night of the assassination, as well as some of the President’s personal grooming items.

Mrs. Lincoln insisted that Keckley accompany her to Chicago to assist her in her new life and myriad affairs. Roughly one month after the assassination, Keckley boarded a train with Mrs. Lincoln and the family en route to Illinois. She would spend only about three weeks there with Mrs. Lincoln, as she had an increasingly promising business back in Washington, D.C., and needed to return to re-open her shop. All the while, Mary Lincoln grew even more dependent upon Keckley now that there were hundreds of miles separating them and wrote frequent letters to Keckley inquiring of her plans, making visitation requests, and lamenting on her new unfortunate state of living. This period in both of their lives and their activities together would later serve as a most critical point in shaping their latter years.

  Behind The Scenes

In 1867, Mrs. Lincoln, who was deeply in debt due to extravagant spending, wrote to Keckley, asking her to help her dispose of her articles of value by accompanying her to New York to find a broker to handle the sales. In late September, they arrived in New York with Mrs. Lincoln using an alias for the duration of her visit. While in New York, Keckley attempted to help by giving interviews to newspapers sympathetic to Mrs. Lincoln’s plight and wrote letters to friends like Frederick Douglass and Henry Highland Garnet, a highly respected minister in the Black church community.

Elizabeth Keckley then attempted to help her son’s university rebuild after a building fire by donating her Lincoln memorabilia to Wilberforce. The anger that Mrs. Lincoln expressed over this prevented Keckley from allowing the items to be exhibited in Europe as originally intended. This incident strained their relationship a great deal, but they still remained in contact, although at greater distance.

In an attempt to defend Mrs. Lincoln (and herself), Elizabeth Keckley published Behind the Scenes in 1868 to “attempt to place Mrs. Lincoln in a better light before the world” and to “explain the motives” that guided Mrs. Lincoln’s decisions regarding the “old clothes” scandal.[37] Elizabeth enlisted the help of a man named James Redpath, an editor from New York and friend of Frederick Douglass, to help Keckley edit and publish the book. Contrary to Mrs. Keckley’s serious intentions, advertisements labeled the forthcoming book as a ‘literary thunderbolt’ and the publisher, Carleton & Company, joined in by declaring it as a ‘great sensational disclosure’.[38]

Dr. Fleischner writes in her book that “Lizzy’s intentions, like the spelling of her name, would thereafter be lost in history. At the age of fifty, she had violated Victorian codes not only of friendship and privacy, but of race, gender, and class. Not surprisingly, the newspapers that attacked Mary Lincoln in the fall, in the spring now leapt to her defense… The social threat represented by this black woman’s agency also provoked other readers, and someone produced an ugly and viciously racist parody called “Behind the Seams; by a Nigger Woman who took work in from Mrs. Lincoln and Mrs. Davis and signed with an “X,” the mark of “Betsey Kickley (nigger),” denoting its supposed author’s illiteracy.”[39]

Stunned and dismayed by the negative reaction, Keckley wrote letters and spoke out defiantly and stood her ground on the book’s intent. A few months after its publication, the uproar over the book subsided. The book did not sell well. It had been posited that Mrs. Lincoln’s son Robert, who was perpetually agitated and embarrassed by his mother’s behavior in private life (and would later have her committed in 1875),[40] did not want the public to know such intimate details about his mother’s life. He may have been involved in suppressing the sale and distribution of the work.

 The aftermath

With regard to Mrs. Lincoln’s reaction, Mrs. Lincoln felt betrayed and extremely disturbed by the work’s public disclosure of private conversations and letters that were written to Keckley. Keckley explained that she too had been betrayed; that James Redpath violated her trust by printing the letters he asked her to ‘lend’ him without her consent and which he promised not to disclose. Regardless of whether or not Keckley’s defense was received by Mrs. Lincoln, the now destitute former First Lady permanently severed contact with Keckley. In July 1869, during a European trip, Mrs. Lincoln was pleased to come across Sally Orne, a good friend from her Washington days. The two women spent every moment together reminiscing about the past and lamenting the present. Not since she had last seen Keckley had Mrs. Lincoln had the pleasant company and undivided attention of an old friend.[41]

Elizabeth Keckley would continue to attempt to earn money by sewing and teaching young women her techniques, while much of her white clientele quietly stopped calling. Eventually Elizabeth was in great need of money, and in 1890 at age seventy-two, she made a drastic decision: to sell the Lincoln articles that she kept for thirty-five years. Twenty-six articles were sold for $250, but it remains to be known how much Mrs. Keckley actually received. The years following Keckley would move a great deal, but in 1892 she was offered a faculty position at Wilberforce University as head of the Department of Sewing and Domestic Science Arts and moved to Ohio. Within a year, she would organize a dress exhibit at the Chicago World’s Fair, and by the late 1890s would return back to Washington to live in the National Home for Destitute Colored Women and Children (an institution established in part by funds contributed by the contraband association that she founded) due to presumed health reasons.

  Death

Toward the end of her life, Keckley suffered from headaches and crying spells, very much like her estranged friend Mrs. Lincoln had during many times in her life. She still had long term affection for the First Lady, evidenced by the photograph that hung on the wall in her room. Mrs. Keckley led a quiet and secluded life and, though never confirmed, told friends that Mrs. Lincoln had attempted to re-establish their connection and that she was forgiven.

In May 1907, Mrs. Keckley died as a resident of the National Home for Destitute Colored Women and Children in Washington, DC. That home was located on Euclid St. NW. There is a plaque across the street from the location commemorating her life.

As written by Dr. Jennifer Fleischer: “Perhaps the most poignant illustration of the different fates of these two women is found in their final resting places. While Mary Lincoln lies buried in Springfield in a vault with her husband and sons, Elizabeth Keckley’s remains have disappeared. In the 1960s, a developer paved over the Harmony Cemetery in Washington where Lizzy was buried, and when the graves were moved to a new cemetery, her unclaimed remains were placed in an unmarked grave—like those of her mother, slave father, and son.”[42]

The dress that Lincoln commissioned Keckley to design for her husband’s inauguration is housed in the Smithsonian’s American History Museum. Keckley also designed a quilt made from scraps of materials left over from dresses made for Mrs. Lincoln which is housed at the Kent State University Museum and pictured in the book, “The Threads of Time, The Fabric of History“, by R. E. Reed Miller, 2007.

Posted February 28, 2012 by pennylibertygbow in Inventors, Personality

George Edward Alcorn, Inventor   Leave a comment


birth: March 22, 1940place:

B.S. (1962) Physics Occidental College; M.S. (1963) Nuclear Physics Howard University

Ph.D. (1967) Howard University
thesis: An Electron Impact Study of the Methylamine, Monoethylamine, Dimethylamine, and Trimethylamine;

-Asst Director For Standards /Excellence — Applied Engineering and Technology Directorate for the Goddard Space Flight Center.

George Edward Alcorn, Jr. was born on March 22, 1940, to George and Arletta Dixon Alcorn. His father was an auto mechanic who sacrificed so Alcorn and his brother could get an education. Alcorn attended Occidental College in Pasadena, California, where he maintained an excellent academic record while earning eight letters in baseball and football. Alcorn graduated with a B.A. in physics in 1962, and in 1963 he completed a master’s degree in nuclear physics from Howard University. During the summers of 1962 and 1963, Alcorn worked as a research engineer for the Space Division of North American Rockwell, computing trajectories and orbital mechanics for missiles. A NASA grant supported Alcorn’s research on negative ion formation during the summers of 1965 and 1966. In 1967 he earned his doctorate from Howard University in atomic and molecular physics.

After earning his Ph.D., Alcorn spent twelve years in industry. He was senior scientist at Philco-Ford, senior physicist at Perker-Elmer, and advisory engineer at IBM Corporation. In 1973, Alcorn was chosen to be IBM Visiting Professor in Electrical Engineering at Howard University, and he has held positions at that university ever since, rising to the rank of full professor. Alcorn is also a full professor in the department of electrical engineering at the University of the District of Columbia, where he has taught courses ranging from advanced engineering mathematics to microelectronics.

Alcorn left IBM, where he worked as a Second Plateau Inventor, to join NASA in 1978. While at NASA, Alcorn invented an imaging x-ray spectrometer using thermomigration of aluminum, for which he earned a patent in 1984, and two years later he devised an improved method of fabrication using laser drilling. His work on imaging x-ray spectrometers earned him the 1984 NASA/GSFC Inventor of the Year Award. During this period he also served as deputy project manager for advanced development, and in this position he was responsible for developing new technologies required for the space station Freedom. Alcorn served as manager for advanced programs at NASA/GSFC from 1990 to 1992, and his primary duties concerned the managing of technology programs and evaluating technologies which were required by GSFC. He also managed the GSFC Evolution Program, concerned with ensuring that over its 30-year mission the space station develops properly while incorporating new capabilities.

Since 1992, Alcorn has served as chief of Goddard’s Office of Commercial Programs supervising programs for technology transfer, small business innovation research, and the commercial use of space programs. He managed a shuttle flight experiment that involved Robot Operated Material Processing System, or ROMPs, in 1994. The experiment involved the manufacture of materials in the microgravity of space.

In 1999 Alcorn was awarded Government Executive Magazine’s prestigious— Government Technology Leadership Award (there were only two awards in all of NASA’s ten centers that year) for the development and commercialization of — THE AIRBORNE LIDAR TOPOGRAPHICAL MAPPING SYSTEM (ALTMS ) . In 2001 Dr Alcorn was awarded special congressional recognition by Congresswoman Donna M. Christian-Christensen (D-VI) for his efforts in helping Virgin Islands businesses through application of NASA technology and knowledge of technology programs ..

Until recently, Dr. alcorn was Chief of the Office of Commercial Programs for the Goddard Space Flight Center. In 2005 he became Assistant Director For Standards /Excellence –Applied Engineering and Technology Directorate

George Edward Alcorn, Jr. is responsible for a number of inventions now widely used in the semiconductor industry. He is perhaps best known for inventing an imaging x-ray spectrometer which uses the thermomigration of aluminum, an achievement which earned him the 1984 Inventor of the Year Award from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC).

Alcorn has over 20 inventions. Some of these have been patented while others have been published. He is a recognized pioneer in the fabrication of plasma semiconductor devices, and his patent “Process for Controlling the Slope of a Via Hole” was an important contribution to the process of plasma etching. This procedure is now used by many semiconductor manufacturing companies. Alcorn was one of the first scientists to present a computer-modeling solution of wet etched and plasma etched structures, and he has received several cash prizes for his inventions of plasma-processing techniques.

Alcorn has been extensively involved in community service. In 1984, he was awarded a NASA-EEO medal for his contributions in recruiting minority and women scientists and engineers and his assistance to minority businesses in establishing research programs. He is a founder of Saturday Academy, which is a weekend honors program designed to supplement and extend math-science training for inner-city students in grades six to eight. Alcorn also works with the Meyerhoff Foundation, founded by Freeman Hrabowski, whose goal is to encourage and support African American males interested in pursuing doctorates in science and engineering. Alcorn was honored by his alma mater Howard University in 1994 in its Heritage of Greatness awards ceremony. Alcorn was celebrated as a Black Achiever in the Science and Technology category. Alcorn married Marie DaVillier in 1969; they have one son, born in 1979. Alcorn’s younger brother Charles is a research physicist at IBM.

Posted February 25, 2012 by pennylibertygbow in Inventors

nat turner   Leave a comment


George Washington Carver (January 1864[1][2] – January 5, 1943), was an American scientist, botanist, educator, and inventor. The exact day and year of his birth are unknown; he is believed to have been born into slavery in Missouri in January 1864.[1]

Carver’s reputation is based on his research into and promotion of alternative crops to cotton, such as peanuts, soybeans and sweet potatoes, which also aided nutrition for farm families. He wanted poor farmers to grow alternative crops both as a source of their own food and as a source of other products to improve their quality of life. The most popular of his 44 practical bulletins for farmers contained 105 food recipes using peanuts.[3] He also developed and promoted about 100 products made from peanuts that were useful for the house and farm, including cosmetics, dyes, paints, plastics, gasoline, and nitroglycerin. He received numerous honors for his work, including the Spingarn Medal of the NAACP.

During the Reconstruction-era South, monoculture of cotton depleted the soil in many areas. In the early 20th century, the boll weevil destroyed much of the cotton crop, and planters and farm workers suffered. Carver’s work on peanuts was intended to provide an alternative crop.

He was recognized for his many achievements and talents. In 1941, Time magazine dubbed Carver a “Black Leonardo”, a reference to the Renaissance Italian polymath, Leonardo da Vinci.[4]

Early years

Carver was born into slavery in Diamond Grove, Newton County, near Crystal Place, now known as Diamond, Missouri, possibly in 1864 or 1865, though the exact date is not known.[5][6] His master, Moses Carver, was a German American immigrant who had purchased George’s parents, Mary and Giles, from William P. McGinnis on October 9, 1855, for $700. Carver had 10 sisters and a brother, all of whom died prematurely.[citation needed]

When George was only a week old, George, a sister, and his mother were kidnapped by night raiders from Arkansas.[7] George’s brother, James, was rushed to safety from the kidnappers.[7] The kidnappers sold the slaves in Kentucky. Moses Carver hired John Bentley to find them, but he located only the infant George. Moses negotiated with the raiders to gain the boy’s return.[7] and rewarded Bentley.

After slavery was abolished, Moses Carver and his wife Susan raised George and his older brother James as their own children.[7] They encouraged George to continue his intellectual pursuits, and “Aunt Susan” taught him the basics of reading and writing.

Black people were not allowed at the public school in Diamond Grove. Learning there was a school for black children 10 miles (16 km) south in Neosho, George decided to go there. When he reached the town, he found the school closed for the night. He slept in a nearby barn. By his own account, the next morning he met a kind woman, Mariah Watkins, from whom he wished to rent a room. When he identified himself as “Carver’s George,” as he had done his whole life, she replied that from now on his name was “George Carver”. George liked this lady very much, and her words, “You must learn all you can, then go back out into the world and give your learning back to the people”, made a great impression on him.

At the age of thirteen, due to his desire to attend the academy there, he relocated to the home of another foster family in Fort Scott, Kansas. After witnessing a black man killed by a group of whites, Carver left the city. He attended a series of schools before earning his diploma at Minneapolis High School in the Kansas town of the same name.

College

At work in his laboratory

Carver applied to several colleges before being accepted at Highland College in Highland, Kansas. when he arrived, they rejected him because of his race. In August 1886, Carver traveled by wagon with J. F. Beeler from Highland to Eden Township in Ness County, Kansas.[8] He homesteaded a claim[9] near Beeler, where he maintained a small conservatory of plants and flowers and a geological collection. He manually plowed 17 acres (69,000 m2) of the claim, planting rice, corn, Indian corn and garden produce, as well as various fruit trees, forest trees, and shrubbery. He also earned money by odd jobs in town and worked as a ranch hand.[8]

In early 1888, Carver obtained a $300 loan at the Bank of Ness City for education. By June he left the area.[8] In 1890, Carver started studying art and piano at Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa.[10] His art teacher, Etta Budd, recognized Carver’s talent for painting flowers and plants; she encouraged him to study botany at Iowa State Agricultural College in Ames.[10] When he began in 1891, he was the first black student, and later taught as the first black faculty member.

When he completed his B.S., professors Joseph Budd and Louis Pammel convinced Carver to continue at Iowa State for his master’s degree. Carver did research at the Iowa Experiment Station under Pammel during the next two years. His work at the experiment station in plant pathology and mycology first gained him national recognition and respect as a botanist.

At Tuskegee

George Washington Carver (front row, center) poses with fellow faculty of Tuskegee Institute in this c. 1902 photograph taken by Frances Benjamin Johnston.

In 1896, Booker T. Washington, the first principal and president of the Tuskegee Institute, invited Carver to head its Agriculture Department. Carver taught there for 47 years, developing the department into a strong research center and working with two additional college presidents during his tenure. He taught methods of crop rotation, introduced several alternative cash crops for farmers that would also improve the soil of areas heavily cultivated in cotton, initiated research into crop products (chemurgy), and taught generations of black students farming techniques for self-sufficiency.

Carver designed a mobile classroom to take education out to farmers. He called it a “Jesup wagon” after the New York financier and philanthropist Morris Ketchum Jesup, who provided funding to support the program.[11]

To recruit Carver to Tuskegee, Washington gave him a higher-than-normal salary and two rooms for his personal use, both of which concessions were resented by some other faculty. Because he had earned a master’s in a scientific field from a “white” institution, some faculty perceived him as arrogant when a young man.[12] Unmarried faculty members normally had to share rooms, with two to a room, in the spartan early days of the institute.

One of Carver’s duties was to administer the Agricultural Experiment Station farms. He had to manage the production and sale of farm products to generate revenue for the Institute. He soon proved to be a poor administrator. In 1900, Carver complained that the physical work and the letter-writing required were too much.[13] In 1904, an Institute committee reported that Carver’s reports on yields from the poultry yard were exaggerated, and Washington confronted Carver about the issue. Carver replied in writing, “Now to be branded as a liar and party to such hellish deception it is more than I can bear, and if your committee feel that I have willfully lied or [was] party to such lies as were told my resignation is at your disposal.”[14] During Washington’s last five years at Tuskegee, Carver submitted or threatened his resignation several times: when the administration reorganized the agriculture programs,[15] when he disliked a teaching assignment,[16] to manage an experiment station elsewhere,[17] and when he did not get summer teaching assignments in 1913-1914.[18][19] In each case, Washington smoothed things over.

Carver circa 1910

Carver started his academic career as a researcher and teacher, which he clearly preferred. In 1911, Washington wrote a letter to him complaining that Carver had not followed orders to plant particular crops at the experiment station This revealed Washington’s micro-management of Carver’s department, which he had headed for more than 10 years by then. Washington at the same time refused Carver’s requests for a new laboratory, research supplies for his exclusive use, and respite from teaching classes. Washington praised Carver’s abilities in teaching and original research but said about his administrative skills:

“When it comes to the organization of classes, the ability required to secure a properly organized and large school or section of a school, you are wanting in ability. When it comes to the matter of practical farm managing which will secure definite, practical, financial results, you are wanting again in ability.”

In 1911, Carver complained that his laboratory had not received the equipment which Washington had promised 11 months before. He also complained about Institute committee meetings.[20] Washington praised Carver in his 1911 memoir, My Larger Education: Being Chapters from My Experience.[21] Washington called Carver “one of the most thoroughly scientific men of the Negro race with whom I am acquainted.” [22] After Washington died in 1915, his successor made fewer demands on Carver for administrative tasks.

From 1915 to 1923, Carver concentrated on researching and experimenting with new uses for peanuts, sweet potatoes, soybeans, pecans, and other crops, as well as having his assistants research and compile existing uses.[23] This work, and especially his speaking to a national conference of the Peanut Growers Association in 1920 and in testimony before Congress in 1921 to support passage of a tariff on imported peanuts, brought him wide publicity and increasing renown. In these years, he became one of the most well-known African Americans of his time.

Rise to fame

“One of America’s great scientists.” U.S. World War II poster circa 1943

Carver developed techniques to improve soils depleted by repeated plantings of cotton. Together with other agricultural experts, he urged farmers to restore nitrogen to their soils by practicing systematic crop rotation: alternating cotton crops with plantings of sweet potatoes or legumes (such as peanuts, soybeans and cowpeas). These both restored nitrogen to the soil and the crops were good for human consumption. Following the crop rotation practice resulted in improved cotton yields and gave farmers alternative cash crops. To train farmers to successfully rotate and cultivate the new crops, Carver developed an agricultural extension program for Alabama that was similar to the one at Iowa State. To encourage better nutrition in the South, he widely distributed recipes using the alternative crops.

In addition, he founded an industrial research laboratory, where he and assistants worked to popularize the new crops by developing hundreds of applications for them. They did original research as well as promoting applications and recipes which they collected from others. Carver distributed his information as agricultural bulletins. (See Carver bulletins below.)

Peanut specimen collected by Carver

Carver’s work was known by officials in the national capital before he became a public figure. President Theodore Roosevelt publicly admired his work. Former professors of Carver’s from Iowa State University were appointed to positions as Secretary of Agriculture: James Wilson, a former dean and professor of Carver’s, served from 1897 to 1913. Henry Cantwell Wallace served from 1921 to 1924. He knew Carver personally as his son Henry A. Wallace and the researcher were friends.[24] The younger Wallace served as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture from 1933 to 1940, and as Franklin Delano Roosevelt‘s vice president from 1941 to 1945.

The American industrialist, farmer, and inventor William Edenborn of Winn Parish, Louisiana, grew peanuts on his demonstration farm. He consulted with Carver[25]

In 1916 Carver was made a member of the Royal Society of Arts in England, one of only a handful of Americans at that time to receive this honor. Carver’s promotion of peanuts gained him the most notability. In 1919, Carver wrote to a peanut company about the potential he saw for peanut milk. Both he and the peanut industry seemed unaware that in 1917 William Melhuish had secured patent #1,243,855 for a milk substitute made from peanuts and soybeans.

The United Peanut Associations of America invited Carver to speak at their 1920 convention. He discussed “The Possibilities of the Peanut” and exhibited 145 peanut products. By 1920, the U.S. peanut farmers were being undercut by low prices on imported peanuts from the Republic of China.

In 1921 peanut farmers and industry representatives planned to appear at Congressional hearings to ask for a tariff. Based on the quality of Carver’s presentation at their convention, they asked the African-American professor to testify on the tariff issue before the Ways and Means Committee of the United States House of Representatives. Due to segregation, it was highly unusual for an African American to appear as an expert witness at Congress representing European-American industry and farmers. Southern congressmen, reportedly shocked at Carver’s arriving to testify, were said to have mocked him.[citation needed] As he talked about the importance of the peanut and its uses for American agriculture, the committee members repeatedly extended the time for his testimony. The Fordney-McCumber Tariff of 1922 was passed including one on imported peanuts. Carver’s testifying to Congress made him widely known as a public figure.

Life while famous

United States Farm Security Administration portrait, March 1942

During the last two decades of his life, Carver seemed to enjoy his celebrity status. He was often to be found on the road promoting Tuskegee, peanuts, and racial harmony. Although he only published six agricultural bulletins after 1922, he published articles in peanut industry journals and wrote a syndicated newspaper column, “Professor Carver’s Advice”. Business leaders came to seek his help, and he often responded with free advice. Three American presidents—Theodore Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge and Franklin Roosevelt—met with him, and the Crown Prince of Sweden studied with him for three weeks. From 1923 to 1933, Carver toured white Southern colleges for the Commission on Interracial Cooperation.[23]

With his increasing notability, Carver became the subject of biographies and articles. Raleigh H. Merritt contacted him for his biography published in 1929. Merritt wrote,

“At present not a great deal has been done to utilize Dr. Carver’s discoveries commercially. He says that he is merely scratching the surface of scientific investigations of the possibilities of the peanut and other Southern products.”[26]

In 1932 the writer James Saxon Childers wrote that Carver and his peanut products were almost solely responsible for the rise in U.S. peanut production after the boll weevil devastated the American cotton crop beginning about 1892. His article, “A Boy Who Was Traded for a Horse” (1932), in The American Magazine, and its 1937 reprint in Reader’s Digest, contributed to this myth about Carver’s influence. Other popular media tended to exaggerate Carver’s impact on the peanut industry.[27]

From 1933 to 1935, Carver worked to develop peanut oil massages to treat infantile paralysis (polio).[23] Ultimately researchers found that the massages, not the peanut oil, provided the benefits of maintaining some mobility to paralyzed limbs.

From 1935 to 1937, Carver participated in the USDA Disease Survey. Carver had specialized in plant diseases and mycology for his master’s degree.

In 1937, Carver attended two chemurgy conferences, an emerging field in the 1930s, during the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, concerned with developing new products from crops.[23] He was invited by Henry Ford to speak at the conference held in Dearborn, Michigan, and they developed a friendship. That year Carver’s health declined, and Ford later installed an elevator at the Tuskegee dormitory where Carver lived, so that the elderly man would not have to climb stairs.[4][28]

Carver had been frugal in his life, and in his 70s established a legacy by creating a museum on his work and the George Washington Carver Foundation at Tuskegee in 1938 to continue agricultural research. He donated nearly $60,000 in his savings to create the foundation.[28]

Legacy and honors

Personal life

Carver never married and there is little documented information about his private life. He was included in the 2007 encyclopedia glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Culture, however there is no direct documentation of his alleged homosexuality.[29][30][31]

When he was 70, Carver established a friendship and research partnership with the scientist Austin W. Curtis, Jr, a much younger graduate of Cornell University who had some teaching experience. Carver bequeathed to Curtis his royalties from an authorized 1943 biography by Rackham Holt.[32]

After Carver died in 1943, Curtis was fired from Tuskegee Institute. He left Alabama and resettled in Detroit. He manufactured and sold peanut-based personal care products.[33]

Death and legacy

Painting by Betsy Graves Reyneau

Upon returning home one day, Carver took a bad fall down a flight of stairs; he was found unconscious by a maid who took him to a hospital. Carver died January 5, 1943, at the age of 78 from complications (anemia) resulting from this fall. He was buried next to Booker T. Washington at Tuskegee University. Due to his frugality, Carver’s life savings totaled $60,000, all of which he donated in his last years and at his death to the Carver Museum and to the George Washington Carver Foundation.[34]

On his grave was written, He could have added fortune to fame, but caring for neither, he found happiness and honor in being helpful to the world.

A movement to establish a U.S. national monument to Carver began before his death. Because of World War II, such non-war expenditures were banned by presidential order. Missouri senator Harry S. Truman sponsored a bill in favor of a monument. In a committee hearing on the bill, one supporter said,

“The bill is not simply a momentary pause on the part of busy men engaged in the conduct of the war, to do honor to one of the truly great Americans of this country, but it is in essence a blow against the Axis, it is in essence a war measure in the sense that it will further unleash and release the energies of roughly 15,000,000 Negro people in this country for full support of our war effort.”[23]

The bill passed unanimously in both houses.

1948 US postage stamp

On July 14, 1943,[35] President Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicated $30,000 for the George Washington Carver National Monument west-southwest of Diamond, Missouri—the area where Carver had spent time in his childhood. This was the first national monument dedicated to an African American and the first to honor someone other than a president. The 210-acre (0.8 km2) national monument complex includes a bust of Carver, a ¾-mile nature trail, a museum, the 1881 Moses Carver house, and the Carver cemetery. The national monument was not opened until July 1953.

In December 1947, a fire broke out in the Carver Museum, and much of the collection was damaged. Time Magazine reported that all but three of the 48 Carver paintings at the museum were destroyed. His best-known painting, displayed at the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago, depicts a yucca and cactus. This canvas survived and has undergone conservation. It is displayed together with several of his other paintings. [36] Carver appeared on U.S. commemorative stamps in 1948 and 1998, and he was depicted on a commemorative half dollar coin from 1951 to 1954. Two ships, the Liberty ship SS George Washington Carver and the nuclear submarine USS George Washington Carver (SSBN-656) were named in his honor.

In 1977, Carver was elected to the Hall of Fame for Great Americans. In 1990, Carver was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. In 1994, Iowa State University awarded Carver Doctor of Humane Letters. In 2000, Carver was a charter inductee in the USDA Hall of Heroes as the “Father of Chemurgy”.[37]

In 2002, scholar Molefi Kete Asante listed George Washington Carver on his list of 100 Greatest African Americans.[38]

In 2005, Carver’s research at the Tuskegee Institute was designated a National Historic Chemical Landmark by the American Chemical Society.[39] On February 15, 2005, an episode of Modern Marvels included scenes from within Iowa State University’s Food Sciences Building and about Carver’s work. In 2005, the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, Missouri, opened a George Washington Carver garden in his honor, which includes a life-size statue of him.

Many institutions honor George Washington Carver to this day. Dozens of elementary schools and high schools are named after him. National Basketball Association star David Robinson and his wife, Valerie, founded an academy named after Carver; it opened on September 17, 2001, in San Antonio, Texas.[40]

Reputed inventions

George Washington Carver reputedly discovered three hundred uses for peanuts and hundreds more for soybeans, pecans and sweet potatoes. Among the listed items that he suggested to southern farmers to help them economically were adhesives, axle grease, bleach, buttermilk, chili sauce, fuel briquettes (a biofuel), ink, instant coffee, linoleum, mayonnaise, meat tenderizer, metal polish, paper, plastic, pavement, shaving cream, shoe polish, synthetic rubber, talcum powder and wood stain. Three patents (one for cosmetics; patent number 1,522,176, and two for paints and stains; patent numbers 1,541,478 and 1,632,365) were issued to George Washington Carver in the years 1925 to 1927; however, they were not commercially successful.[41] Aside from these patents and some recipes for food, Carver left no records of formulae or procedures for making his products.[42] He did not keep a laboratory notebook.

Carver’s research was intended to provide replacements for commercial products, which were generally beyond the budget of the small one-horse farmer. A misconception grew that his research on products for subsistence farmers were developed by others commercially to change Southern agriculture.[43][44] Carver’s work to provide them with resources for more independence from the cash economy foreshadowed the “appropriate technology” work of E.F. Schumacher.

Peanut products

Dennis Keeney, director of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University, wrote in the Leopold Letter (newsletter):

Carver worked on improving soils, growing crops with low inputs, and using species that fixed nitrogen (hence, the work on the cowpea and the peanut). Carver wrote in ‘The Need of Scientific Agriculture in the South’: “The virgin fertility of our soils and the vast amount of unskilled labor have been more of a curse than a blessing to agriculture. This exhaustive system for cultivation, the destruction of forest, the rapid and almost constant decomposition of organic matter, have made our agricultural problem one requiring more brains than of the North, East or West.”[45]

Carver marketed a few of his peanut products. The Carver Penol Company sold a mixture of creosote and peanuts as a patent medicine for respiratory diseases such as tuberculosis. Other ventures were The Carver Products Company and the Carvoline Company. Carvoline Antiseptic Hair Dressing was a mix of peanut oil and lanolin. Carvoline Rubbing Oil was a peanut oil for massages.

Carver was often credited with the invention of peanut butter. While he may have made peanut butter, the preparation arose in other cultures independently. The Aztecs were known to have made it from ground peanuts in the 15th century.[46][47]

Sweet potato products

Carver is also associated with sweet potato products. In his 1922 sweet potato bulletin, Carver listed a few dozen recipes, “many of which I have copied verbatim from Bulletin No. 129, U. S. Department of Agriculture”.[48] Carver’s records included the following sweet potato products: 73 dyes, 17 wood fillers, 14 candies, 5 library pastes, 5 breakfast foods, 4 starches, 4 flours, and 3 molasses.[49] He also had listings for vinegars, dry coffee and instant coffee, candy, after-dinner mints, orange drops, and lemon drops.

Carver bulletins

During his more than four decades at Tuskegee, Carver’s official published work consisted mainly of 44 practical bulletins for farmers.[50] His first bulletin in 1898 was on feeding acorns to farm animals. His final bulletin in 1943 was about the peanut. He also published six bulletins on sweet potatoes, five on cotton, and four on cowpeas. Some other individual bulletins dealt with alfalfa, wild plum, tomato, ornamental plants, corn, poultry, dairying, hogs, preserving meats in hot weather, and nature study in schools.

His most popular bulletin, How to Grow the Peanut and 105 Ways of Preparing it for Human Consumption, was first published in 1916[3] and was reprinted many times. It gave a short overview of peanut crop production and contained a list of recipes from other agricultural bulletins, cookbooks, magazines, and newspapers, such as the Peerless Cookbook, Good Housekeeping, and Berry’s Fruit Recipes. Carver’s was far from the first American agricultural bulletin devoted to peanuts,[51][52][53][54][55] but his bulletins did seem to be more popular and widespread than previous ones.

Religion

George Washington Carver believed he could have faith both in God and science and integrated them into his life. He testified on many occasions that his faith in Jesus was the only mechanism by which he could effectively pursue and perform the art of science.[56] George Washington Carver became a Christian when he was ten years old. When he was still a young boy, he was not expected to live past his twenty-first birthday due to failing health. He lived well past the age of twenty-one, and his belief deepened as a result.[22] Throughout his career, he always found friendship with other Christians. He relied on them especially when criticized by the scientific community and media regarding his research methodology.[57]

Carver viewed faith in Jesus as a means of destroying both barriers of racial disharmony and social stratification.[58] He was as concerned with his students’ character development as he was with their intellectual development. He compiled a list of eight cardinal virtues for his students to strive toward:

A monument to Carver at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis

  • Be clean both inside and out.
  • Neither look up to the rich nor down on the poor.
  • Lose, if need be, without squealing.
  • Win without bragging.
  • Always be considerate of women, children, and older people.
  • Be too brave to lie.
  • Be too generous to cheat.
  • Take your share of the world and let others take theirs.[40]

Beginning in 1906 at Tuskegee, Carver led a Bible class on Sundays for several students at their request. He regularly portrayed stories by acting them out.[40] He responded to critics with this: “When you do the common things in life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world.”[59]

Christian book series for children and adults about great men and women of faith feature George Washington Carver as a figure of faith and achievement. One such series, the Sower series, includes his story alongside those of such men as Isaac Newton, Samuel Morse, Johannes Kepler, and the Wright brothers. Other Christian literary references include Man’s Slave, God’s Scientist, by David R. Collins. Sam Wellman’s Heroes of the Faith series includes George Washington Carver: Inventor and Naturalist.

Posted February 16, 2012 by pennylibertygbow in Inventors

Otis Boykin, Boykin, invented more than 25 electronic devices.   Leave a comment


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Otis Frank Boykin (August 29, 1920 – 1982) was an African-American inventor and engineer.[1]

Otis Frank Boykin was born in 1920 in Dallas, Texas. His mother was a homemaker and his father was a carpenter. He worked as a laboratory assistant at the nearby University’s aerospace laboratory. Otis attended Fisk University and Illinois Institute of Technology, but dropped out after two years because his parents could not afford his tuition.

Boykin, in his lifetime, ultimately invented more than 25 electronic devices. One of his early inventions was an improved electrical resistor for computers, radios, televisions and an assortment of other electronic devices. Other notable inventions include a variable resistor used in guided missiles and small component thick-film resistors for computers.[2]

Boykin’s most famous invention was likely a control unit for the artificial heart pacemaker. The device essentially uses electrical impulses to maintain a regular heartbeat. Boykin himself died of a heart failure in Chicago in 1982.

Posted February 15, 2012 by pennylibertygbow in Inventors

Garret Morgan, Inventor of a Type of Respitory Protective Hood (gas mask) and others   Leave a comment


Garrett Augustus Morgan, Sr. (March 4 1877 – August 27, 1963) was an inventor who invented a type of respiratory protective hood (conceptually similar to modern gas masks), a type of traffic signal, and a hair-straightening preparation. He is renowned for a heroic rescue in which he used his hood to save workers trapped in a tunnel system filled with fumes. He is credited as the first African-American in Cleveland to own an automobile.[1]

 

 

 

Safety hood

Newspaper photograph of Morgan’s rescue in 1916

Garrett Morgan patented a safety hood and smoke protector after seeing firefighters struggling from the smoke they encountered in the line of duty[2] and hearing about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire.[citation needed] His device used a wet sponge to filter out smoke and cool the air.[3] He was able to sell his invention around the country, sometimes using the tactic of having a hired white actor take credit rather than revealing himself as its inventor.[2] For demonstrations of the device, he sometimes adopted the disguise of “Big Chief Mason”, a purported full-blooded Indian from the Walpole Island Indian Reservation in Canada.”[4] His invention became known nationally when he and three other men used it to save several men after a 1916 tunnel explosion under Lake Erie.[5] Cleveland’s newspapers and city officials initially ignored Morgan’s personal acts of heroism as the first to rush into the tunnel for the rescue, and it took years for the city to recognize his contributions.[2] Eventually, Morgan was awarded a gold Medal of Bravery by prominent citizens of Cleveland and a gold medal for bravery from the International Association of Fire Chiefs.[5]

Morgan’s invention of the safety hood was featured on the television show “Inventions that Shook the World”.[6]

 Traffic signal

See also: Traffic signal#History

Patent drawing of Morgan’s signal

The first American-made automobiles were introduced to consumers just before the turn of the 20th Century, and pedestrians, bicycles, animal-drawn wagons and motor vehicles all had to share the same roads. Between 1913 and 1921, a number of versions of traffic signaling devices, both mechanical and automated, were patented by various inventors. Of these, only a few saw production or implementation on public roads. Morgan’s device, first patented in 1923, was a hand-cranked, manually operated mechanical semaphore signal.[5] His device had two key safety features: having an intermediate “all stop” signal state to give moving traffic time to stop before signaling cross traffic to proceed, and having a “half mast” position to indicate general caution at times when the device operator was not present.[5]

There is no evidence to support the claim that Morgan’s traffic signal was ever put into service[7]; Despite claims on various websites[8][9][10][11][12] as well as in print[13][14] that Morgan’s invention was used “throughout North America,” the absence of his signal in 1920’s photographs and news articles suggests that it was not installed in large numbers, if at all. Notably, it did not merit a single mention in the book-length historical study by Gordon M. Sessions[15], which covers a wide variety of devices in tracing the development of traffic control devices throughout history.

Many of these sources also claim that the patent rights for Morgan’s designs were sold at about that time to General Electric(GE) for $40,000. However, no record of this transaction appears either in the U.S. patent assignment records at the National Archives, the GE historical business records at the Schenectady Museum in New York, or in Morgan’s own legal and business papers at the Western Reserve Historical Society in Cleveland. Advertisements and photos from the 1920s indicate that GE’s early traffic signal products were of the more modern electric variety, not manually operated semaphores. Several GE patent acquisitions from the early-to-mid 1920s[16][17][18][19]show that the company was investing heavily in solid-state electronic circuitry and automated traffic signaling devices during that time. By the end of 1926, GE had begun experimenting with traffic-controlled systems[20] (as opposed to timer-controlled devices); It is highly implausible that GE would consider investing $40,000 (over $500,000 USD inflation-adjusted to 2011) in a manual, crank-driven signaling device during an era when the company was researching, developing and producing solid-state analog circuitry and actively implementing these technologies into their signals.

 Awards and recognitions

Grave of Garrett A. Morgan

At the Emancipation Centennial Celebration in Chicago, Illinois in August 1963, Morgan was nationally recognized. Although in ill-health, and nearly blind, he continued to work on his inventions; one of his last was a self-extinguishing cigarette, which employed a small plastic pellet filled with water, placed just before the filter.

In Prince George’s County, Maryland, the Prince George’s County Board renamed Summerfield Boulevard to Garrett A. Morgan Boulevard in his honor. The adjacent Washington Metro’s Morgan Boulevard Station was going to be named Summerfield, but was consequently renamed as well. Also named in his honor is the Garrett A. Morgan Cleveland School of Science in Cleveland, Ohio. In 2002, scholar Molefi Kete Asante included Morgan on his list of 100 Greatest African Americans.[21]

Morgan was a Prince Hall Freemason (Excelsior Lodge No. 11 of Cleveland, Ohio)[22] and an honorary member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.

Morgan died on August 27, 1963, at the age of 86, and is buried at Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland, Ohio.

References

  1. ^ “Encyclopedia of World Biography on Garrett A. Morgan”. Bookrags.com. http://www.bookrags.com/Garrett_A._Morgan#The_Garrett_Morgan_traffic_signal. Retrieved 2009-05-19. 
  2. ^ a b c Who Made America? Pioneers: Garrett Augustus Morgan PBS.org.
  3. ^ Inventor of the Week: Garrett A. Morgan: The Safety Hood, MIT, Feb. 1997.
  4. ^ Editors, Time-Life (1991). Inventive Genius. New York: Time-Life Books. p. 40. ISBN 0809476991
  5. ^ a b c d “An American Inventor, Federal Highway Administration”. Fhwa.dot.gov. http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/education/gamorgan.htm. Retrieved 2009-05-19. 
  6. ^ http://www.discoverychannel.ca/episodeList.aspx?sid=33683
  7. ^ Edward A. Mueller, “Aspects of the History of Traffic Signals”, IEEE Transactions on Vehicular Technology, vol. VT-19, no. 1, pp.6-17 (1970)
  8. ^ http://blog.cleveland.com/metro/2011/02/garrett_morgan_invented_gas_ma.html (“…Garrett Morgan invented gas mask, traffic signal…”)
  9. ^ http://www.socialstudiesforkids.com/articles/ushistory/garrettmorgan.htm (“…[H]e invented what would become the traffic light.”)
  10. ^ http://www.blackinventor.com/pages/garrett-morgan.html (“…[Morgan’s traffic signal] became the standard across the country. Today’s modern traffic lights are based upon Morgan’s original design.”)
  11. ^ http://www.moptopshop.com/garrett_morgan.html (“…The traffic signals we use today are based on Garrett Morgan’s invention…”)
  12. ^ http://clinton6.nara.gov/1997/05/1997-05-09-proclamation-of-transportation-day-and-week.html (“…Garrett Morgan invented the traffic signal and is recognized as the father of our safe transportation technology program…”)
  13. ^ Inventing Modern America: from the Microwave to the Mouse (2002) David E. Brown The MIT Press: Cambridge MA, London (“…In 1922, after Morgan witnessed a horrible traffic accident, he turned his inventive mind to automobile safety. A year later, he was awarded the first patent for a traffic signal…)”
  14. ^ USA TODAY November 14, 2001, Wednesday FINAL EDITION, MONEY; Pg. 3B (Headline: Inventor didn’t stop at gas mask: He created traffic signal, too)
  15. ^ Gordon Sessions, Traffic Devices: Historical Aspects Thereof, (Washington DC: Institute of Traffic Engineers, c.1971).
  16. ^ U.S. Patent No. 1,725,635
  17. ^ U.S. Patent No. 1,711,480
  18. ^ U.S. Patent No. 1,835,916
  19. ^ U.S. Patent No. 1,835,917
  20. ^ http://www.google.com/patents/US2050637?printsec=drawing&dq=%22General+Electric%22+traffic+signal&ei=_xweT43mN8rlggeaxMiMDw#v=onepage&q=%22General%20Electric%22%20traffic%20signal&f=false
  21. ^ Asante, Molefi Kete (2002). 100 Greatest African Americans: A Biographical Encyclopedia. Amherst, New York. Prometheus Books. ISBN 1-57392-963-8.
  22. ^ Proceedings of the 129th Communication of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Ohio F&AM. Columbus, Ohio: The Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Ohio. 1978. pp. 70. 

Posted February 15, 2012 by pennylibertygbow in First to Accomplish, Inventors, Uncategorized

Patricia Bath, Inventor – Laserphaco Probe, a medical device “for ablating and removing cataract lense   Leave a comment


Patricia Era Bath (born November 4, 1942, Harlem, New York) is an African American and Native American ophthalmologist, inventor and academic. She has broken ground for women and African Americans in a number of areas. Prior to Bath, no woman had served on the staff of the Jules Stein Eye Institute, headed a post-graduate training program in ophthalmology or been elected to the honorary staff of the UCLA Medical Center (an honor bestowed on her after her retirement). Before Bath, no black person had served as a resident in ophthalmology at New York University and no black woman had ever served on staff as a surgeon at the UCLA Medical Center. Bath is the first African American woman doctor to receive a patent for a medical purpose. Her Laserphaco Probe is used around the world to treat cataracts. The holder of four patents, she is also the founder of the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness in Washington D.C.

Contents

 [show

[edit] Early life and education

Born in New York City on November 4, 1942, Bath was the daughter of Rupert and Gladys Bath.[1] Her father, an immigrant from Trinidad, was a newspaper columnist, a merchant seaman and the first black man to work for the New York City Subway as a motorman.[1][2] Raised in Harlem, Bath was encouraged academically by her parents.

Inspired by Albert Schweizer,[2] Bath applied for and won a National Science Foundation Scholarship while attending Charles Evans Hughes High School; this led her to a research project at Yeshiva University and Harlem Hospital Center on cancer that piqued her interest in medicine.[3][4] In 1960, still a teenager, Bath won the “Merit Award” of Mademoiselle magazine for her contribution to the project.[2]

After graduating high school early, Bath received her Bachelor of Arts in chemistry from New York’s Hunter College in 1964.[5] She relocated to Washington, D.C. to attend Howard University College of Medicine, from which she received her doctoral degree in 1968.[6] During her time at Howard, she was president of the Student National Medical Association and received fellowships from the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of Mental Health.[7]

Bath interned at Harlem Hospital Center, subsequently serving as a fellow at Columbia University.[4] During this period, from 1968 to 1970,[8] Bath became aware that the practice of eye care was uneven among racial minorities and poor populations, with much higher incidence of blindness amongst her black and poor patients.[7][8] She determined that, as a physician, she would help address this issue.[7] She persuaded her professors from Columbia to operate on blind patients at Harlem Hospital Center, which had not previously offered eye surgery, at no cost.[8] Bath pioneered the worldwide discipline of “community ophthalmology”, a volunteer-based outreach to bring necessary eye care to underserved populations.[8]

She served her residency in ophthalmology at New York University from 1970 to 1973, the first African American to do so in her field.[7][8]

[edit] Career

After completing her education, Bath served briefly as an assistant professor at Jules Stein Eye Institute at UCLA and Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science before becoming the first woman on faculty at the Eye Institute.[7][7][8][9] In 1978, Bath co-founded the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness, for which she served as president.[8][10][11] In 1983, she became the head of a residency in her field at Charles R. Drew, the first woman ever to head such a department.[7][8] In 1993, she retired from UCLA, which subsequently elected her the first woman on its honorary staff.[1][7]

She served as a professor of Ophthalmology at Howard University’s School of Medicine and as a professor of Telemedicine and Ophthalmology at St. Georges University.[11][12] She was among the co-founders of the King-Drew Medical Center ophthalmology training program.[13]

Bath has lectured internationally and authored over 100 papers.[13]

[edit] Inventions

Bath holds four patents in the United States.[5] In 1981, she conceived of the s”.[5] The device was completed in 1986 after Bath conducted research on lasers in Berlin and patented in 1988,[14] making her the first African American female doctor to receive a patent for a medical purpose.[15] The device — which quickly and nearly painlessly dissolves the cataract with a laser, irrigates and cleans the eye and permits the easy insertion of a new lens — is used internationally to treat the disease.[1][5][16] Bath has continued to improve the device and has successfully restored vision to people who have been unable to see for decades.[11][17]

Three of Bath’s four patents relate to the Laserphaco Probe.[11] In 2000, she was granted a patent for a method she devised for using ultrasound technology to treat cataracts.[6]

[edit] Honors

Bath has been honored by two of her universities. Hunter College placed her in its “hall of fame” in 1988 and Howard University declared her a “Howard University Pioneer in Academic Medicine” in 1993.[6]

[edit] Notes

  1. ^ a b c d “Patricia Bath” (Black Inventor On-Line Museum.
  2. ^ a b c Lambert (2007), p. 70.
  3. ^ Henderson (1998), p. 9.
  4. ^ a b Williams (2011), p. 45.
  5. ^ a b c d Wilson and Wilson (2003), p. 25.
  6. ^ a b c Lambert (2007), p. 72.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h Lambert (2007), p. 71.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h “Dr. Patricia E. Bath” (NIMH)
  9. ^ Henderson (1998), p. 10.
  10. ^ Henderson (1998), p. 13.
  11. ^ a b c d “Modern Black Inventorys” (Jet, 2002), p. 55.
  12. ^ “Modern Black Inventors” (Ebony, 1998), p. 158.
  13. ^ a b U.S. Black Engineer & IT (1997), p. 42.
  14. ^ Henderson (1998), pp. 10, 12.
  15. ^ Henderson (1998), p. 12.
  16. ^ Lambert (2007), p. 73.
  17. ^ Stewart (2005), p. 57.

[edit] References

Posted February 15, 2012 by pennylibertygbow in First to Accomplish, Inventors