Black Inventors in the Age of Segregation: Granville T. Woods, Lewis H. Latimer, and Shelby J. Davidson

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JHU Press, 2003 - Science - 225 pages
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According to the stereotype, late-19th and early-20th-century inventors, quintessential loners and supposed geniuses, worked in splendid isolation and then unveiled their discoveries to a marvelling world. Most successful inventors of this era, however, developed their ideas within the framework of industrial organizations that supported them and their experiments. For African-American inventors, negotiating these racially stratified professional environments meant not only working on innovative designs but also breaking barriers. Americans: Granville Woods, an independent inventor; Lewis Latimer, a corporate engineer with General Electric; and Shelby Davidson, who worked in the US Treasury Department. Detailing the difficulties and human frailties that make their achievements all the more impressive, Fouche explains how each man used invention for financial gain, as a claim on entering adversarial environments, and as a means to technical stature in a Jim Crow institutional setting. complicated racial identities - as both black and white communities perceived them - with their hopes of being judged solely on the content of their inventive work, Fouche provides a nuanced view of African American contributions to - and relationships with - technology during a period of rapid industrialization and mounting national attention to the inequities of a separate-but-equal social order.
 

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Contents

INTRODUCTION
INVENTING THE MYTH OF RACIAL EQUALITY
LIARS AND THIEVES GRANVILLE T WOODS AND THE PROCESS OF INVENTION
15
LEWIS H LATIMER AND THE POLITICS OF TECHNOLOGICAL ASSIMILATIONISM
70
ADDING MACHINES INSTITUTIONAL RACISM AND THE BLACK ELITE
123
BACK TO THE FUTURE REASSESSING BLACK INVENTORS IN THE TWENTYFIRST CENTURY
167
NOTES
179
ESSAY ON SOURCES
201
INDEX
209
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About the author (2003)

Rayvon FouchA(c) is an assistant professor in the department of science and technology studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

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