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Teacher Quick Picks - African American Inventors

African American Inventors

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Benjamin Banneker, Eric Braun

The achievements of Benjamin Banneker, a free educated black man who lived in the late 18th century, are presented for young readers with simple text and a helpful timeline that crosses the bottom of each page. From the Pebble First Biographies series, which also includes a biography of George Washington Carver.

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Five Notable Inventors, Wade Hudson, illus. by Ron Garnett

Short, easy reader biographies of Jan Ernst Matzeliger, Elijah McCoy, Granville T. Woods, Madam C.J. Walker, and Garrett A. Morgan.

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George Washington Carver, Jo S. Kittinger

Born a slave shortly before Emancipation, Carver grew up to go to college, become a scientist, and invent 300 things people could make with peanuts! Period photographs and a glossary word hunt enliven this biography.

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Madam C.J. Walker, Catherine Nichols

An easy and visually appealing biography for the early elementary grades of the woman who built a beauty product empire in the late 1800s.

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Middle Grades



African-American Inventors, Patricia and Fredrick McKissack

Rather than focusing solely on specific inventors, this book delves into the history of African-American invention from slave days to contemporary times. An explanation of the history of patents and patent law is included, and there are chapters on railroad and automotive inventions.

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The Real McCoy: The Life of an African-American Inventor, Wendy Towle, illus. by Wil Clay

Elijah McCoy, educated as an engineer, could only find work on the railroad in post-Civil War America. He invented an automatic oil cup to make his job easier that was so well-designed it may have been the source of the expression, “the real McCoy.”




Scientists, Healers, and Inventors, Wade Hudson

This “book of black heroes” contains single-page biographies of many African Americans who have made significant advances in the fields of science and medicine and invention.

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Vision of Beauty: The Story of Sarah Breedlove Walker, Kathryn Lasky, illus. by Nneka Bennett

An illustrated biography of Madam C. J. Walker’s remarkable achievements as an inventor and a businesswoman.

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Links to Internet Web Sites

Black History Inventors – Black History Month

An alphabetical listing of African-American inventors and their inventions. Links are included to more in-depth information where available.


The Black Inventor Online Museum

This easy-to-use website has profiles of over 60 African-American inventors and a linked timeline of inventions.


Black Studies: Profiles of Great African Americans You Should Know

The profiles include inventors Benjamin Banneker, Jan Ernst Matzeliger, and Granville T. Woods.


Black Scientists and Inventors

An article about inventors written for kids, plus a list of short biographies of notable African-American inventors.


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