In 1891 African-American inventor John Standard of Newark was awarded U. S. patent number 455,891 for an improved refrigerator design. A non-electrical unit, Standard’s refrigerator featured a manually filled ice chamber for chilling stored foods and beverages. The first-known system for artificial refrigeration was designed and presented by William Cullen at the University of Glasgow in 1784. Another African-American inventor, Thomas Elkins, also patented an improvement on this original refrigeration device on November 4, 1879
Bessie Blount was born in 1914 in Virginia. She trained as a physical therapist in Chicago and New Jersey.
She provided physical therapy for WWII soldiers; it was here that she invented the electrically driven feeding device. This was the first device that fed a patient that was bedridden or wheelchair bound. It would administer food through a tube in small continuous portions. If a patient bit down on the feeding tube it would activate the flow of food. Blount was unable to market her device. She took her invention overseas where France quickly purchased her device for use in their military hospitals
She later invented a receptacle device that could be worn around a patient’s neck. She again applied for a patent for the receptacle device and again was denied. This time the device was bought by Belgium. Blount also taught physical therapy at the Bronx hospital in New York. She became a forensic scientist and went into the area of law. She was the first African American to work for Scotland Yard. She died in 2009. She was quoted as saying that she had proven « that a black woman can invent something for the benefit of humankind. »