George Washington Carver
Betsey Graves Reneau
Oil on canvas, 1942
National Portrait Gallery, transfer from the Smithsonian Museum of
American Art, gift of the George Washington Carver Memorial Committee
to the Smithsonian Institution, 1944
|Information or research assistance regarding
African American inventors is frequently requested from the Smithsonian
Institution. The following information has been prepared by the Office of Visitor Services's Public Inquiry Mail
and Telephone Information Service Unit in cooperation with the Anacostia
Community Museum, Office of Education, to assist those interested
in this topic. All information on price and availability of materials
was current as of August, 1992 but is subject to change.
A Selected Annotated Bibliography on African American
Adams, Russell L. Great Negroes Past and Present.
Chicago: Afro-Am Publishing Co., 1964.
A pictorial-biographical history of famous African Americans.
Bedini, Silvio A. The Life of Benjamin Banneker.
1972. Reprint. Rancho Cordova, CA: Landmark Ent., 1984.
The life and accomplishments of Benjamin Banneker, African-American surveyor,
Baker, Henry Edwin. The Colored Inventor; a Record of Fifty
Years. 1913. Reprint. North Stratford, NH: Ayer, 1969.
A pamphlet that provides a detailed listing of early black inventors and
their patents, covering the period 1870-1920. Baker was an Examiner of
the U.S. Patent Office.
Douty, Esther M. Forten the Sailmaker; Pioneer Champion of
Negro Rights. Chicago: Rand McNally, 1968.
An illustrated narrative that chronicles James Forten's life as a champion
of black rights as well as his maritime innovations.
Haber, Louis. Black Pioneers of Science and Invention.
New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc., 1970.
Biographies of noted African-American inventors, illustrated with examples
of patent drawings.
James, Portia. The Real McCoy: African-American Invention
and Innovation, 1619-1930. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution
Catalogue from the Smithsonian's Anacostia Community Museum exhibition,
chronicling the struggles and triumphs of black inventors. Includes Benjamin
Banneker, Elijah McCoy (because of whom the term "the real McCoy"
originated), Jan Matzeliger (inventor of the shoe lasting machine), Garrett
Morgan (inventor of the yellow caution light that is part of traffic signals),
slave inventors, Washington, D.C. inventors. Patent illustrations.
Jenkins, Edward S., ed. American Black Scientists and Inventors.
Washington, DC: National Science Teachers Association, 1973.
The lives and accomplishments of George Washington Carver, Garrett Morgan,
Benjamin Banneker, and other scientists and inventors are examined.
Klein, Aaron E. Hidden Contributions: Black Scientists and
Inventors in America. New York: W.W. Norton and Co., 1982.
An account of African-American contributions to the scientific and technological
history of America.
Logan, Rayford W. and Michael R. Winston, eds. Dictionary
of American Negro Biography. New York: W.W. Norton and Co.,
Biographies of noted African Americans, including inventors.
Van Sertima, Ivan, ed. Blacks in Science: Ancient and Modern.
New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Pubs., 1983.
Included are 2,000-year-old metallurgy technology, astronomical practices,
navigational techniques of ancient Africa, and black inventors and innovations
of the modern era.
Selected Films and Videos
Benjamin Banneker: Man of Science. 9 min. Color.
16mm.; film rental, $7.75, plus shipping and handling.
Portrays the life and accomplishments of astronomer, mathematician, clock
maker and almanac writer Benjamin Banneker. Recommended for intermediate
and junior high school students.
Media and Teaching Resources
Bloomington, IN 47405-5901
Telephone: (800) 552-8620
From Dreams to Reality: A Tribute to Minority Inventors.
26 min. Color. 16 mm. film; VHS video. Free loan.
Narrator Ossie Davis shows a traffic signal, a gas mask, bleach, the process
for preserving blood and other significant contributions of minority inventors
to American science and technology. Recommended for secondary school students
Office of Public Affairs
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
P. O. Box 1450
Alexandria, VA 22313-1450
Telephone: (571) 272-8400
George Washington Carver. 11 min. Color. VHS,
1/2" video purchase, $69.95.
Uses historical footage on the life and work of Dr. Carver to focus on
his role as an innovative scientist who encouraged growing the peanut
to enrich the soil. Recommended for intermediate school students and above.
Films for the Humanities
P.O. Box 2053
Princeton, NJ 08543
Telephone: (800) 257-5126
Two Dollars and a Dream. 66 min. Color. 16mm.
film rental, $85; 16mm film purchase, $850. VHS, 3/4", and Beta video
rental, $85; all video sales, $495.
Interviews and historical photographs document the life and career of
America's first black millionairess, beauty supply manufacturer and philanthropist
Madame C.J. Walker. Recommended for secondary school students and above.
124 E. 40th Street
New York, NY 10016
Telephone: (212) 808-4980
Related Web Link
Innovative Lives: http://invention.smithsonian.org/centerpieces/ilives/