Celebrating Innovation this Black History Month

Black History Month pays tribute to the accomplishments of African Americans across generations, honoring the many ways in which perseverance and a commitment to progress have shaped history.

The National Inventors Hall of Fame® (NIHF) celebrating Inductees whose accomplishments have contributed to society in remarkable ways. These inventors have advanced the spirit of innovation in both tangible and intangible ways by developing the discoveries that change lives and inspiring others to pursue their dreams.

Two notable present-day and historic NIHF Inductees include:

Marshall Jones

Marshall Jones, Industrial Lasers, Inducted in 2017

Marshall Jones pioneered the use of lasers for industrial materials processing while working as a mechanical engineer at General Electric (GE). In the 1970s, he invented new methods of welding dissimilar metals and developed fiber-optic systems making lasers much more convenient for industrial applications. Jones’ work revolutionized the method of making lead wires used in light bulbs. His work has also been utilized in GE’s production of ceramic metal halide lamps, diesel engine head-liner assemblies, control rods for nuclear reactors and flat emitters for X-ray tubes. Learn more about his story here.

Joseph Lee

Joseph Lee, Bread Machines, Inducted in 2019

Joseph Lee was a pioneer in the automation of bread and breadcrumb making during the late 1800s. The son of slaves, Lee spent much of his South Carolina childhood in bondage. He worked as a servant in Beaufort, then served for 11 years as steward in the U.S. Coast Survey, where he gave particular attention to bread making. By the early 1880s, Lee had become a successful hotel and restaurant owner and caterer in Massachusetts. He invented machines for use in the hospitality industry that automated the mixing and kneading of bread dough and that created crumbs from day-old loaves. By 1900, Lee’s crumber was used by many of America’s leading hotels and catering establishments.

Jones and Lee also will be recognized for their achievements through a special NIHF Museum exhibit during the month of February. A display in the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Madison Building atrium will allow visitors to learn about the early years, commitment to innovation and legacies of these Inductees.


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