During Black History Month, here at Earrings off! we want to highlight the inventions of African
American females. The following accomplishments should not be taken lightly as they attest to the
genius inherent in our community.
Madame C. J. Walker
Madame C. J. Walker invented hair care products for African American women and traveled the country promoting her brand. Through calculated marketing, Walker became one of America’s first self-made female millionaires.
Dr. Patricia Bath
A true visionary, Dr. Patricia Bath became the first female African American medical doctor to receive a medical patent when she invented a laser cataract treatment device called a Laserphaco Probe in 1986. (Bath was also the first African American to complete a residency in ophthalmology.) The co-founder of the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness patented her invention in 1988.
Marie Van Brittan
Marie Van Brittan Brown invented the first closed-circuit TV security system in 1966. Feeling unsafe due to her neighborhood’s high crime rate, the full-time nurse rigged a motorized camera to record her home entryway and project images onto a TV monitor. Also included in her setup was a two-way microphone in order to communicate with visitors without opening the door, as well as a panic button to notify police of any potential emergency in progress. After filing to patent the closed circuit TV security system in 1966, Brown received her approval in December 1969.
In 1892, Sarah Boone improved the ironing board, making it better suited for ironing the sleeves and bodies of women’s clothes. The North Carolina native wrote in her application that the purpose of her invention was "to produce a cheap, simple, convenient, and highly effective device, particularly adapted to be used in ironing the sleeves and bodies of ladies' garments."
Lyda D. Newman
Lyda D. Newman’s invention was simple yet revolutionary. In 1898, Newman patented her “new and improved hair-brush.” The brush had evenly separated bristles, slots that kept dirt and hair neatly contained, and a detachable compartment for easy cleaning. The artificial bristles Newman used were similar to the plastic ones used today.
These individuals came up with original ideas to improve the lives of all Americans. Now that’s a fact worth celebrating any month, at any time!