Since the founding of the National Inventors Hall of Fame®(NIHF), nearly 600 visionary men and women, who conceived, patented and advanced the greatest technological achievements of our nation, have been inducted into the Hall of Fame. Historical innovators like Joseph Lee and Charles Drew paved the way beyond science and technology by becoming trailblazers for African Americans. Today, pioneers like Marshall Jones continue to advance technologies and lead the way for the next generation of innovators.
The son of slaves, Boston-area entrepreneur Joseph Lee was a pioneer in the automation of bread and bread-crumb making during the late 1800s. The self-educated inventor was a successful hotel and restaurant owner who created his machines to allow for greater efficiency in his kitchens. By 1900, his devices were used by many of America’s leading hotels and were fixtures in hundreds of the country’s leading catering establishments.
Renowned for his work in blood plasma preservation, Charles Drew’s research into the storage, processing and shipment of blood plasma saved lives during World War II and reformed the U.S.’s blood bank process through standardization and advanced storage techniques. Drew started what would become bloodmobiles and became a trailblazer as the first director of the American Red Cross Blood Bank in New York.
Marshall Jones, a mechanical engineer at General Electric (GE), pioneered the use of lasers for industrial materials processing, particularly in the welding, drilling, and cutting of metals at a time when lasers were uncommon in materials processing. He invented novel methods to weld dissimilar metals, and developed fiber optic systems that made lasers more convenient for industrial applications.
Honor our world-changing inventors during Black History Month and celebrate the advancement of our nation through the process of invention. You can learn more about other Inductees at invent.org/inductees.