These interesting books, articles, and web-based resources—many authored, referenced, or recommended by our webinar participants—may be helpful in the further study of Black inventors and innovators.
General Overviews and Collections
Black Inventor Online Museum, http://blackinventor.com/.
Carson, Michael A. African-American Inventions That Changed The World: Influential Inventors and Their Revolutionary Creations. Grayson, GA: Double Infinity, 2017.
Holmes, Keith C. Black Inventors, Crafting Over 200 Years of Success. Brooklyn, NY: Global Black Inventor Research Projects, 2008.
James, Portia P. The Real McCoy: African-American Invention and Innovation, 1619–1930. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1989.
Library of Congress bibliographies:
Pursell, Carroll W., ed. A Hammer in Their Hands: A Documentary History of Technology and the African-American Experience. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press 2005.
Sinclair, Bruce, ed. Technology and the African-American Experience: Needs and Opportunities for Study. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2004.
Sluby, Patricia Carter. The Entrepreneurial Spirit of African American Inventors. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2011.
Sluby, Patricia Carter. The Inventive Spirit of African Americans: Patented Ingenuity. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2004.
Walker, Juliet E. K., ed. Encyclopedia of African American Business History. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1999.
Walker, Juliet E. K., ed. The History of Black Business in America: Capitalism, Race, Entrepreneurship, Volume 1, to 1865, 2ndedition. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2009.
Underrepresentation and Invisibility
Baker, Henry E. The Colored Inventor: A Record of Fifty Years. New York: The Crisis Publishing Company, 1913.
Baker, Henry E. “The Negro as an Inventor.” In Twentieth Century Negro Literature, edited by D. W. Culp, 399-413. Naperville, IL: J. L. Nichols, 1902.
Bell, Alex, Raj Chetty, Xavier Jaravel, Neviana Petkova, John Van Reenen. “Who Becomes an Inventor in America? The Importance of Exposure to Innovation.” The Quarterly Journal of Economics 134, no. 2 (May 2019): 647–713.
Cook, Lisa D. “The Innovation Gap in Pink and Black.” In Does America Need More Innovators?, edited by Matthew Wisnioski, Eric S. Hintz, and Marie Stettler Kleine, 221-247. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2019.
Cook, Lisa D. “Violence and Economic Activity: Evidence from African American Patents, 1870–1940.” Journal of Economic Growth 19 no. 2 (June 2014): 221-257.
Lakwete, Angela. Inventing the Cotton Gin: Machine and Myth in Antebellum America. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003.
Nager, Adams, David M. Hart, Stephen Ezell, and Robert D. Atkinson. The Demographics of Innovation in the United States. Report for Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, Washington, DC, 24 February 2016.
Rothwell, Jonathan, Andre M. Perry, and Mike Andrews. “The Black Innovators Who Elevated the United States: Reassessing the Golden Age of Invention.” Brookings Institution research report, 23 November 2020.
Smith, Charlotte. “Colored Woman Inventor.” The Woman Inventor 1, no. 1 (April 1891): 3.
Pipelines and Pathways: Invention Education, Training, and Mentoring
Holly, Jr., James. “A Critical Autoethnography of a Black Man Teaching Engineering to Black Boys.” Journal of African American Males in Education 11, no. 2 (2020): 25-42.
Lachney, Michael, William Babbitt, Audrey Bennett, and Ron Eglash. “Generative Computing: African-American Cosmetology as a Link between Computing Education and Community Wealth.” Interactive Learning Environments (2019).
Lee, Walter C., and Holly M. Matusovich. “Investigating How Undergraduate Students Perceive Co-Curricular Support in Engineering.” Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering 24, no. 3 (2018): 195-226.
Lemelson Foundation. “Equity and Access in Invention Education.” In Researching Invention Education, edited by the Lemelson Foundation, 2019, pp. 11-16.
McGee, Ebony O. Black, Brown, Bruised: How Racialized STEM Education Stifles Innovation. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press, 2020.
McGee, Ebony O. and William H. Robinson, eds. Diversifying STEM: Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Race and Gender. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2020.
Riley, Donna, Amy E. Slaton, and Alice L. Pawley. “Social Justice and Inclusion: Women and Minorities in Engineering.” In Cambridge Handbook of Engineering Education Research, 335-356, edited by Aditya Johri and Barbara M. Olds. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2014.
Slaton, Amy E. Race, Rigor, and Selectivity in U.S. Engineering: The History of an Occupational Color Line. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2010.
Slaughter, John Brooks, Yu Tao, Willie Pearson, Jr., eds. Changing the Face of Engineering: The African American Experience. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2015.
Wharton, David E. A Struggle Worthy of Note: The Engineering and Technological Education of Black Americans. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992.
Black Inventors and Innovators at Work
Baraka, Imamu Amiri. "Technology & Ethos." In Raise, Race, Rays, Raze: Essays Since 1965, edited by Imamu Amiri Baraka, 155-157. New York: Random House, 1971.
Bundles, A’Lelia. On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madame C. J. Walker. New York, NY: Scribner, 2001.
Cook, Lisa D. “Overcoming Discrimination by Consumers During the Age of Segregation: The Example of Garrett Morgan.” Business History Review 86, no. 2 (Summer 2012): 211–34.
Eglash, Ron. African Fractals: Modern Computing and Indigenous Design. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1999.
Fouché, Rayvon. Black Inventors in the Age of Segregation: Granville T. Woods, Lewis H. Latimer, and Shelby J. Davidson. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003.
Fouché, Rayvon. “Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud: African Americans, American Artifactual Culture, and Black Vernacular Technological Creativity.” American Quarterly 58, No. 3 (September 2006): 639-61.
Grandison, Tyrone. “Building Inclusive and Diverse Teams.” GovLoop, 13 April 2018.
Jackson, Giles B. and D. Webster Davis. The Industrial History of the Negro Race of the United States. Richmond, VA: The Virginia Press, 1908.
Riordan, Teresa. “Patents: An Inventor Makes Good on a Third-Grade Notion.” New York Times, 14 February 2000. An article about Tahira Reid Smith’s invention of a Double Dutch rope-turning machine
Snider, Jill D. Lucean Arthur Headen: The Making of a Black Inventor and Entrepreneur. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2020.
Eglash, Ron, Jennifer L. Croissant, Giovanna Di Chiro, and Rayvon Fouché, eds. Appropriating Technology: Vernacular Science and Social Power. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2004. Of special interest:
- Chapter 6: David Albert and Mhadi Goldberg, “The Scratch is Hip Hop: Appropriating the Phonographic Medium,” pp. 107-144.
- Chapter 7: Samuel “Cultural Paths to Computing: African American Women in a Community,” pp. 145-150.
- Chapter 17: Rayvon Fouché, “Not Made for Black History Month: Lewis Latimer and Technological Assimilation,” pp. 315-330.
Commercialization and Institutions
Cook, Lisa D. “Inventing Social Capital: Evidence from African American Inventors, 1843–1930.” Explorations in Economic History 48, no. 4 (December 2011): 507–18.
Frye, Brian L. “Invention of a Slave.” Syracuse Law Review 68, no. 1 (2018): 181-229.
Hamilton, Arlan with Rachel L. Nelson. It’s About Damn Time: How to Turn Being Underestimated Into Your Greatest Advantage. New York, NY: Currency, 2020. A memoir and business advice book by a Black, LGBTQ, woman venture capitalist
Johnson, Shontavia. “America’s Always had Black Inventors – Even When the Patent System Explicitly Excluded Them.” The Conversation, 14 February 2017.
Johnson, Shontavia. “The Colorblind Patent System and Black Inventors.” Landslide 11, no. 4, March-April 2019.
National Venture Capital Association. Building a More Inclusive Entrepreneurial Ecosystem, July 2016.
National Venture Capital Association and Deloitte. NVCA-Deloitte Human Capital Survey, 2nd ed., June 2019.
Swanson, Kara W. “Race and Selective Legal Memory: Reflections on Invention of a Slave.” Columbia Law Review 120, no. 4 (May 2020): 1077-1118.
Black Individual and Community Experience with Technology
Benjamin, Ruha ed. Captivating Technology: Race, Carceral Technoscience, and Liberatory Imagination in Everyday Life. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2019.
Benjamin, Ruha. Race After Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code. Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2019.
Brock, André. Distributed Blackness: African American Cybercultures. New York: NY: NYU Press, 2020.
Brock, André. “From the Blackhand Side: Twitter as a Cultural Conversation.” Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media 56, no. 4 (2012): 529-549.
Browne, Simone. Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2015.
Eubanks, Virginia. Automating Inequality: How High-Tech Tools Profile, Police, and Punish the Poor. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2017.
Florini, Sarah. Beyond Hashtags: Racial Politics and Black Digital Networks. New York: NYU Press, 2019.
Fouché, Rayvon. “From Black Inventors to One Laptop Per Child: Exporting a Racial Politics of Technology.” In Race After the Internet, ed. Lisa Nakamura and Peter Chow-White, 61-84. Brunswick, NJ: Routledge, 2011.
Jackson, Sarah J., Moya Bailey, and Brooke Foucault Welles. #HashtagActivism: Networks of Race and Gender Justice. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2020.
McIlwain, Charlton. Black Software: The Internet & Racial Justice, from the AfroNet to Black Lives Matter. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2019.
Noble, Safiya. Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism. New York: NYU Press, 2018.
Walton, Anthony. "Technology Versus African-Americans." Atlantic Monthly 283, no. 1 (January 1999): 14-18.
Books for Young Readers
Aaseng, Nathan. Black Inventors. New York, NY: Facts on File, 1997.
Abdul-Jabbar, Kareem and Raymond Obstfeld. What Color Is My World?: The Lost History of African-American Inventors. Somerville, MA: Candlewick, 2012.
Barton, Chris. Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson's Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge, 2016.
Dickmann, Nancy. Lewis Latimer: The Man Behind a Better Light Bulb. North Mankato, MN: Pebble, 2020.
Haber, Louis. Black Pioneers of Science and Invention. New York, NY: Harcourt, 1970.
Hudson, Wade. Scientists, Healers, and Inventors: An Introduction for Young Readers. East Orange, NJ: Just Us Books, 2003.
Jackson, Garnet Nelson. Garrett Morgan, Inventor. Cleveland, OH: Modern Curriculum Press, 1993.
Kamkwamba, William and Bryan Mealer. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind. New York, NY: Dial Books for Young Readers, 2012. The story of fourteen-year-old William Kamkwamba who figured out how to bring electricity to his village in Malawi
Lord, Michelle. Patricia's Vision: The Doctor Who Saved Sight. New York, NY: Sterling Children's Books, 2020. About ophthalmologist Dr. Patricia Bath
McLaurin, Patrice. Have You Thanked an Inventor Today? Lawrenceville, GA: Digital Arts Publishing, 2016.
Sullivan, Otha Richard. African American Inventors. New York, NY: Wiley, 1998.
Towle, Wendy. The Real McCoy: The Life of an African-American Inventor. New York, NY: Scholastic, 1993. The story of Elijah McCoy, who received more than 50 patents for his many inventions