Soul Food Column

Black Inventors and Inventions

Soul Food Advice Column


February 28, 2017

A Black History Month Tribute

During the mid to late 1800s, African Americans dominated the catering business. In 1869, they formed the United Public Waiters’ Mutual Beneficial Association to monitor the services of the waiters and of the food services they provided.

In 1871, James Wormley, a Black entrepreneur and experienced caterer and hotel steward, opened the Wormley Hotel. Its dining hall became one of the most fashionable restaurants in the nation’s capital.

In the 1870s, Alexander Ashbourne, a black inventor and former dry goods grocer owner moved to Oakland California where he began a new dry goods enterprise. He became one of that city’s leading Black residents.

In the 1890s, Joseph Lee, who established a thriving catering and restaurant business in Boston considered himself a "bread specialist." He patented a bread-making machine, and a bread-crumbing machine.



AIR CONDITIONING UNIT, Frederick M. Jones, July 12, 1949
Biscuit Cutter, A.P. Ashbourne, November 30, 1875
Cellular Phone, Henry T. Sampson, July 6, 1971

REFRIGERATOR , J. Standard, June 14, 1891
CLOTHES DRYER, G.T. Sampson, June 6, 1862

CURTAIN ROD, S.R. Scratton, November 30, 1889
DUST PAN, Lawrence P. Ray, August 3, 1897
EGG BEATER, Willie Johnson, February 5, 1884

PEANUT BUTTER, George Washington Carver, 1896
ELECTRIC LIGHT BULB, Lewis Latimer, March 21, 1882

FOLDING BED, L.C. Bailey, July 18, 1899
FOLDING CHAIR, Brody & Surgwar, June 11, 1889

ICE CREAM SCOOPER , A.L. Cralle , February 2, 1897
Ironing Board, Sarah Boone, December 30, 1887

MAIL BOX , Paul L. Downing, October 27, 1891
MOP, Thomas W. Stewart, June 11, 1893

There are many more black inventors unfortunately, I can not included them all in this Tribute. Because of these Black Inventors, our lives have been enriched by their creations.

Keep Black History Alive Every Month!

“When our thoughts which bring actions—are filled with hate against anyone, Negro or white, we are in a living hell. That is as real as hell will ever be." Carver, George Washington Inventor (1864-1943)

Cassandra Harrell is a Soul Food Advisor and recently owned a soul food restaurant and catering service. This best-selling cookbook author and award-winning caterer have conducted cooking classes and one-on-one sessions on preparing great soul food cuisine. Her new book, Soul Food Advisor is filled with Harrell’s authentic recipes, iconic dishes, and irresistible flavors.  Soul Food Advisor reveals the secrets of perfecting southern cooking, one dish at a time. Please visit the Author Bio and our Cookbook Page.

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