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Inventors and inventions

Collection Data

The collection consists of portraits of African American inventors from the 19th and 20th centuries, some of whom are depicted with their inventions; and depictions of individual inventions, including patent drawings, mostly created during the 19th to mid-20th centuries. The collection includes a portrait and a view of a relief sculpture of inventor Norbert Rillieux, and reproductions of drawings of his evaporating pan (patented 1846); a portrait of Elijah McCoy and reproductions of the patent drawings for his steam engine lubricators (1872); reproductions of the patent drawings for Granville T. Woods's induction telegraph system (1887) and electric railway (1902); and a portrait og Garrett A. Morgan as well as a view of him and others posing next to a display of his traffic signal (ca. 1960s). Also included is a portrait of white American inventor Eli Whitney, depictions of his cotton gin (invented in 1793), and some depictions of a modern mechanical cotton picker (ca. 1935); a view of a piston pin gauging machine, developed by an African American student at the Henry Ford Trade School in Michigan (n.d.); illustrations of a horse-powered railroad car (1829) and of the first American steam-powered locomotive used for actual service (1831); and a reproduction of engravings of fishing traps (n.d.). Additional images of African American inventors may be found in the Portrait Collection.
Dates / Origin
Date Created: 1925 - 1986
Library locations
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Photographs and Prints Division
Shelf locator: Sc Photo Inventors and inventions
Inventors -- United States
Inventions -- United States
African American inventors
McCoy, Elijah, 1844-1929
Morgan, Garrett A., 1877-1963
Rillieux, Norbert, 1806-1894
Whitney, Eli, 1765-1825
Content: Some photographs bear organizational handstamp on verso. Some items bear handwritten notations on verso; many items bear captions or descriptive text printed on recto; one item bears typewritten caption attached to verso. Some items are mounted; some items are matted.
Statement of responsibility: Collection contains work by Oliver J. Gray.
Physical Description
Extent: 30 items (.3 cu. ft., 1 box)
Gelatin silver prints
Extent: 15 photographic prints: silver gelatin, b&w ; 34 x 23 cm. and smaller; 6 photographic prints: silver gelatin, b&w ; 21 x 26 cm. and smaller
Extent: 7 photostats : b&w ; 34 x 26 cm. and smaller
Dye diffusion transfer prints
Extent: 1 dye diffusion transfer print : col. ; 11 x 9 cm
Extent: 1 photocopy : b&w ; 27 x 21 cm
Type of Resource
Still image
Barcode: 33433076188055
NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b16095636
Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): 43015850-c607-012f-62f4-58d385a7bc34
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