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Friday, February 6, 2015


We're back with our celebration of Black History Month! This time, we're focusing on African American scientists and inventors.

Did you know that Rebecca Lee Crumpler was the first African American female physician? She graduated from the New England Female Medical College in 1864 (92). Dr. Roger Arliner Young was "the first African American woman to conduct and publish research in her field." A zoologist, she wrote a paper entitled On the Excretory Apparatus in Paramecium in 1924 (37). You can read more about these and other black female scientists in Black Stars: African American Women Scientists and Inventors.

 African American Women Inventors 1884-2003 shares patents from black female inventors.These inventions span a range of beauty supplies and instruments, to medical tools and equipment, to toys and games. For example, in 1951, Bessie Virginia Griffin was granted a patent on a device that allowed people with temporary or permanent disabilities to drink from a cup or bowl.
Another personal favorite of mine? Deanna R. Meredith was issued a patent in 1984 for an extendable skateboard.
Now that is totally gnarly, dude!

Black Stars: African American Inventors details the lives of numerous black inventors. Included are astronaut Guion S. Bluford, the first African American in space (139) and Dr. Daniel Hale Williams, a brilliant surgeon who opened the first non-segregated hospital in the United States (52).

Want to learn even more about black scientists? Check out this two volume set that covers everyone from George Washington Carver, a botanist who focused on peanuts and peanut products (37), to Clarence Arthur Ellis, the first African American PhD in computer sciences (69), to Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist (194). African Americans in Science educates us about them all.

Be sure to stop by the Mississippi Library Commission to check out these and many, many other books on the myriad accomplishments of African Americans in the sciences. Happy Black History Month!

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