The Inventive Spirit of African Americans
Patented Ingenuity
by Patricia Carter Sluby
March 2008, 352pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Paperback: 978-0-313-35156-3
$22.95, £17, 20€, A32

The most comprehensive work on African American inventors to date, this book provides information on patent holders in all fields from colonial to modern times.

In this important study, former United States primary patent examiner Patricia Carter Sluby pays homage to the inventive spirit of African Americans. Beginning with the contributions of enslaved Africans brought to American shores, Sluby introduces inventors and patent holders from all fields up to and including the leading edge of today’s technology. Along with such recognizable figures as George Washington Carver and Madam C. J. Walker, readers will discover little-known or forgotten pioneers of devices such as a tobacco substitute, a home security system, and a portable heart monitor. Particular attention is given to the innovations of women inventors and scientists.

In this important study, former United States primary patent examiner Patricia Carter Sluby pays homage to the inventive spirit of African Americans. Beginning with the contributions of enslaved Africans brought to American shores, Sluby introduces inventors and patent holders from all fields up to and including the leading edge of today’s technology. Along with such recognizable figures as George Washington Carver and Madam C. J. Walker, readers will discover little-known or forgotten pioneers of devices such as a tobacco substitute, a home security system, and a portable heart monitor. Particular attention is given to the innovations of women inventors and scientists.

Products to ease domestic life, promote the efficiency of industrial processes, and improve the safety of leisure activities all bear the hallmarks of these creative minds. Sluby details the plight of inventive slaves during the antebellum and Civil War eras. She juxtaposes their efforts with those of free blacks of the same period. Reconstruction saw significant agricultural and industrial innovations by African Americans, some of which would permanently change American industry. Military inventions during the course and aftermath of both world wars showcase the diversity of minority ideas in an age of rapid technological advances. The closing chapter recounts the ongoing efforts of modern thinkers and their contributions in the high-tech and medical fields at the vanguard of the new century.

Reviews

"Sluby, a former primary US patent examiner, presents a thorough and fascinating history of the contributions of African Americans to the world of invention, and to our present quality of life. Her well-written and engaging portrait of many black inventors and scientists is derived from a comprehensive review of all the patents that have been issued to African Americans from the days of slavery to the present high-tech era....An important addition to the literature on contributions of African Americans to US history. Highly recommended. All levels."—Choice, November 1, 2004

"Former Patent Examiner Patricia Carter Sluby's book - The Inventive Spirit of African Americans: Patented Ingenuity is no ordinary book on the story of African American inventors. No, she takes it to the level we as PTDL Reps can appreciate. She has included an appendix to the back of her book that lists patents granted to all African American invetors from 1790 to the present day. Even better, she doesn't just list the invention name, she gives the patent number -- which makes it easier to find the patent for the invention if you are creating a presentation or developing a talk or even writing your own book or article on the topic. This book is a must for every PDTL."—Patent and Trademark Depository Library Association Newsletter, 00/00/00

"In this important study, Sluby pays homage to the inventive and pioneering spirit of little-known African Americans. From ancient African creations to contributions of those enslaved and brought to this country, this work provides a stirring and well-documented account of their contributions to American history....This publication will be a welcome addition to any African-American history collection."—Multicultural Review, September 1, 2005

"This would be an excellent book for a high school collection that focuses on science, African-American history, or both....[t]he material covered is impressive. Recommended."—Library Media Connection, February 1, 2005

"An excellent examination of African American inventors and problem-solvers who turned obstacles into opportunities. Pat Sluby is to be commended for her painstaking research and lucid writing style in exploring the history of African American inventors and patent-holders."—Maceo Crenshaw Dailey Jr., Director, African American Studies, Associate Professor of History, University of Texas, El Paso

"This book fills a too often overlooked but meaningful contribution of African Americans to our industrialized nation and to the high tech global community....This well researched and skillfully documented book tells their story."—Norman G. Torchin, Patent Attorney and former Examiner-in-Chief (Administrative Patent Judge) in the United States Patent and Trademark Office

"Patricia Sluby weaves personal stories with science and social history to offer a comprehensive, and engaging, treatment on an under-explored subject. This book is a 'must-read' for anyone who is interested in the African American science experience."—Robert L. Hall, Museum Educator

"Bringing the eye of a patent examiner to the record of American innovation, Patricia Sluby gives us the fullest picture yet of African American inventiveness. It is a stirring account, showing the toughness of the human creative spirit in the face of a hostile environment."—Arthur Molella, Director, Lemelson Center, Smithsonian Institution
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