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African-American Scientists and Inventors

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African-American Scientists and Inventors Part II
Augustus Jackson created the first ice cream.
Augustus Jackson created the first ice cream.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

Below is the second part of "African-American Scientists and Inventors."

Augustus Jackson made and sold custard in New York. He created the first ice cream. As the story goes, Jackson put a pail of custard in a bucket of cracked ice to cool it off. The custard froze. Jackson tasted it and liked it, and so did his neighbors and his customers. He then began selling his ice cream in quart tins for a dollar each.

So many of the inventions by African-Americans have proved useful in everyday life. The inventions helped to make work easier.

Shoes and more shoes is what Jan Ernst Matzeliger’s invention made possible. He built a machine in the late 1870s that would make up to 700 shoes in one day, compared to 50 made by hand. His invention, called the Lasting Machine, changed the shoe business.

In 1881, Lewis Howard Latimer invented and patented the first electric light bulb with a thin carbon wire. Latimer was an electrical engineer who worked for Thomas Edison, the famous inventor who introduced electric lighting to the world. Latimer also wrote the first textbook on the lighting system used by Edison.

Granville T. Woods and Garrett Morgan thought about safety as they invented dozens of devices. One of Woods’ best-known inventions was a system for getting messages from one train engineer to another. His efforts helped to stop train accidents. Morgan designed a safety helmet that was used by firemen in the early 1900s, but he is most famous for his invention that is used everywhere, the traffic light.

George Washington Carver developed a mountain of products from the tiny peanut. Carver was born a slave in Missouri in 1861. It wasn’t until he was ten years old that he first went to school. Later, he went to college and studied plant life.

In 1896, Carver eagerly accepted an offer at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama to lead its new department of agriculture. Carver made history while he was there. His experiments on peanuts, sweet potatoes, and soybeans led to products that improved life for millions of people.

Carver also changed the bleak picture of agriculture in the South. He gave cotton farmers hope with new crops that could earn them more money. Carver created more than 400 products from the peanut and sweet potato, and other items came from Carver’s work with soybeans and pecans.

Carver either invented or developed new forms of many products. Among these were peanut butter, bleach, shampoo, flour, coffee, house paint, printing ink, cheese, and soap.

African-American scientists have made many wonderful contributions to the health and welfare of people throughout the world. Dr. Ernest Just conducted research in the 1930s that changed our understanding of how a cell works. Dr. Louis Tompkins Wright developed a special way to vaccinate people against smallpox, which did away with scarring on the skin.

Dr. Charles Drew helped to set up blood banks.
Dr. Charles Drew helped to set up blood banks.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

One scientist who stands out for his study of blood is Dr. Charles R. Drew. He was an outstanding athlete, surgeon, scientist, and teacher. He discovered that blood plasma could be stored longer than whole blood and then be ready for use in medical emergencies. Plasma is the liquid part of blood. It is blood without the cells.

Dr. Drew’s work helped to save thousands of lives when blood plasma was used by the British during World War II to save wounded soldiers. He also helped to set up blood banks, which we use today to store blood for times of need.

Dr. Drew’s great contributions to the world will never be forgotten. Neither will the great work of the many other African-American scientists and inventors.

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