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Charles Rosenberg

a self-taught mechanical genius, best known for inventing the refrigeration system used in long-haul trucking and rail shipment (under the Thermo King label), held over forty patents, including the first feasible two-cycle gas engine. He was most likely born in Ohio, in the vicinity of Cincinnati, but may have lived in West Covington, Kentucky, as well. There is little documentation for his life prior to arrival in Hallock, Minnesota, on Christmas Eve 1912. By appearance and social experience he was African American; his death certificate describes him as “Indian and Negro.” For the rest of his life he called Hallock home, and Hallock followed the career of its beloved favorite son with affectionate pride.

Knowledge of his childhood comes from brief remarks Jones made to news writers and recollections shared with friends in Minnesota His mother either died or abandoned him when he was very young He recalled ...

Article

Ian Jones

African‐American scientist and inventor who worked in Britain. Lewis Latimer's parents were Rebecca and George Latimer, fugitive slaves from Virginia who gained their liberty in the free state of Massachusetts, where Lewis was born. Lewis served in the American Civil War (1861–5), after which he worked as an office boy in a patent law firm. His employers soon recognized his talent for drawing and made him head draughtsman. He married Mary Wilson (1848–1937) in 1873 and wrote a poem for his wedding, which he later published in his collection Poems of Love and Life.

When he was 25, Lewis invented an improved toilet for railway carriages, and in 1876Alexander Graham Bell hired him to produce the drawings he needed to patent the telephone. Lewis was later headhunted by the US Electric Lighting Company, and in 1882 was awarded a patent for a ...

Article

Eric Bennett

Born in Chelsea, Massachusetts, Lewis Latimer was the son of an escaped slave from Virginia whom African American abolitionist Frederick Douglass and American abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison defended when his former owner tried to have him extradited. As a boy Latimer worked in his father's barbershop and peddled Garrison's newspaper, the Liberator. Latimer later joined the Union Navy during the Civil War, serving on the U.S.S. Massasoit on the James River in Virginia. After an honorable discharge in 1865, he found work with Crosby & Gould, a firm of patent lawyers. Although Latimer was hired as an office boy, he cultivated drafting skills in his spare time until he was qualified for blueprint work. In addition to drawing plans for other people's inventions, Latimer brainstormed his own, patenting in 1874 a “pivot bottom” for water closets on trains. His high-caliber draftsmanship impressed Alexander Graham Bell ...

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Rayvon David Fouché

engineer and inventor, was born in Chelsea, Massachusetts, the son of George W. Latimer, a barber, and Rebecca Smith, both former slaves who escaped from Norfolk, Virginia, on 4 October 1842. When not attending Phillips Grammar School in Boston, Latimer spent much of his youth working in his father's barbershop, as a paperhanger, and selling the abolitionist newspaper the Liberator. Latimer's life changed drastically when his father mysteriously disappeared in 1858. His family, placed in dire financial straits, bound out Latimer and his brothers George and William as apprentices through the Farm School a state institution in which children worked as unpaid laborers Upon escaping from the exploitation of the Farm School system Latimer and his brothers returned to Boston to reunite the family During the next few years Latimer was able to help support his family through various odd jobs and by ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

the son of Lulu Jenifer and a father whose surname was Lewis, although his identity is otherwise unknown. As was common during that period, William was given his mother’s family name as his middle name. Some sources suggest he was born in 1899, though census records and his academic career makes the 1897 date more likely. Lewis died when his son was four years old. William and his sister Edna then moved with their mother to Chicago, where on 25 September 1907 Lulu Jenifer married Louis N Powell a barber probably born in Texas who adopted William and Edna Lulu Powell worked as a laundress for a private family Young William sang in the choir at Ebenezer Baptist Church learned to play piano and took on a newspaper route He completed elementary education at Key School and graduated from the segregated all black Wendell Phillips High School which ...

Article

Robin Jones

amateur radio operator, engineer, inventor, and educator, was born in Chicago to Eugene Renfroe and Bertha Wiley. He confronted racism in his pursuit of his hobby and passion—ham radio—and was instrumental in encouraging a community of “hams” known as OMIK who appreciated technology and science, while combating segregationist practices.

As a young boy, Renfroe was given ham radio equipment through family friends. His interest captured, he continued to learn about not only radio operation but also other technical fields, among them architecture and electrical engineering. Renfroe graduated from James H. Bowen Technical High School in 1921, where he was a Cadet Captain, receiving training in the Army ROTC in the summers of 1918 and 1919. In 1921 he attended Armour Institute of Technology later the Illinois Institute of Technology It was at this time he applied for his license as an amateur ...

Article

Gary L. Frost

mechanical and electrical engineer and inventor, was born in Columbus, Ohio. Nothing is known of Woods's parents except that they may have been named Tailer and Martha Woods. The effects of racism in Columbus, shortly before and during the Civil War, were somewhat blunted by the economic influence of a sizable African American population, which included artisans and property holders, and by growing sympathy among whites for abolitionism. Only a few years before Woods's birth, the city established a system of segregated schools for black children, which provided him an education until he was ten years old.

Like almost all American engineers during the nineteenth century, Woods obtained his technical training largely through self-study and on-the-job experience, rather than from formal schooling. Sometime after 1866 he began apprenticing as a blacksmith and machinist probably in Cincinnati where several decades earlier German immigrants had established a flourishing machine tool ...

Article

Gary L. Frost

Granville Woods was born in Columbus, Ohio. Nothing is known of Woods's parents except that they may have been named Tailer and Martha Woods. The effects of racism in Columbus, shortly before and during the Civil War, were somewhat blunted by the economic influence of a sizable African American population, which included artisans and property holders, and by growing sympathy among whites for abolitionism. A few years before Woods's birth, the city had established a system of segregated schools for black children, which provided him an education until he was ten years old.

Like almost all American engineers during the nineteenth century, Woods obtained his technical training largely through self-study and on-the-job experience, rather than from formal schooling. Sometime after 1866 he began apprenticing as a blacksmith and machinist, probably in Cincinnati where several decades earlier German immigrants had established a flourishing machine tool industry Machinists considered ...