4 Black Historical Figures from the 1800s (1/28)

Here’s a few game changers from the 1800’s.

1. Thomas Jennings (1791 - 1856)

  • Was the first Black man to receive a patent in the US in 1821 for a process called 'dry scouring'.
  • This paved the way for modern dry cleaning.
  • His image is also attributed to Jamaica's national hero, Paul Bogle. We're biased and believe that the picture is more likely Paul than Thomas :)
  • There is not a clear answer as to who the image belongs to, though there is a lot of evidence for both sides.

2. Norbert Rillieu (1806-1894)

  • Between 1834 and 1843, he revolutionized the sugar refining industry by inventing the multiple-effect evaporation system with a vacuum.
  • It improved processing efficiency and worker safety.
  • Rillieux's evaporator has been ranked among the greatest inventions in the history of American Chemical Engineering.

3. Elijah McCoy (1844-1929)

  • His most noted invention is the "oil drip cup", which made automatic lubrication possible and allowed steam engines to run more efficiently.
  • Developed nearly 60 patents in his life, the most of any African American at that time.
  • Another notable invention is the lawn sprinkler.

4. Granville Woods (1856-1910)

  • He was self taught and often referred to as the "Black Edison"
  • Held more than 60 patents.
  • First African American mechanical and electrical engineer after the Civil War
  • One of his most important inventions was the "troller," a grooved metal wheel that allowed street cars to collect electric power from overhead wires.

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