William B. Purvis

Improved Fountain Pen - patent #419,065 1/7/1890

William Purvis of Philadelphia invented and patented improvements to the fountain pen in 1890. William Purvis made several improvements to the fountain pen in order to make a “more durable, inexpensive, and better pen to carry in the pocket.”

Purvis used an elastic tube between the pen nib and the ink reservoir that used a suction action to return any excess ink to the ink reservoir, reducing ink spills and increasing the longevity of the ink. Fountain pens were first patented as early as 1809.

William Purvis - Bag fastener

Bag fastener - patent #256,856 4/25/1882

William Purvis also invented several other inventions including two machines for making paper bags (which Purvis sold to the Union Paper Bag Company of New York), a bag fastener, a self-inking hand stamp, and several devices for electric railroads. His first paper bag machine (patent #293,353) created satchel bottom type bags in an improved volume and greater automation than previous machines.  Continue reading

Daniel McCree

Chicago inventor Daniel McCree invented a portable fire escape that was designed for the interior of buildings.

McCree’s fire escape could roll and had a carriage that could be raised and lowered.

It was intended to be part of a building’s own fire prevention equipment and stored on location.

D. McCree  improved on the fire-escape used in bigger buildings and created a portable wooden fire escape  that could be attached to a home

McCree patented his portable fire escape on November 11, 1890 and it is the basis for models used today.

(U. S. Patent # 440,322 )

Portable Fire Escape by Daniel McCree


Marie Maynard Daly

Marie Maynard Daly

Marie Daly was born in Corona, NY on April 16, 1921. She earned a Bachelor of Science from Queens College in 1942 and a Master of Science from New York University in 1943. She received a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Columbia University in 1948, the first black female to earn a Ph.D. in Chemistry. Dr. Daly served as an Instructor in Physical Science at Howard University between 1947-48.

From 1951-55, she was a Research Assistant at the Rockefeller Institute. Dr. Daly was an Associate at the Columbia University Research Service of the Goldwater Memorial Hospital, from 1955-59. Marie Daly was appointed from Assistant Professor of Biochemistry from 1960-61. Continue reading

Yvonne Braithwaite Burk

Yvonne Brathwaite Burke

Image courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration

Representative, 1973-1979, Democrat from California

Yvonne Brathwaite Burke was a rising star in California and national politics years before she won a seat in the U.S. House. In 1966, she became the first African-American woman elected to the California assembly. At the 1972 Democratic National Convention she served as vice chair of the platform committee, gaining national television exposure. That same year she became the first black woman from California (and one of only three black women ever) elected to the House.

Her meteoric career continued with a prime appointment to the Appropriations Committee and her election as the first woman chair of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC). But Burke’s most notable distinction in the eyes of much of the public occurred in 1973, when she became the first Congresswoman to give birth and be granted maternity leave while serving in Congress.  Continue reading

Clifford Alexander Jr.

Cliffors Alexander Jr. first African American Secretary of the Army

Clifford Alexander Jr. was born and raised in Harlem prior to his education at Fieldstone Ethical Culture, Harvard (1955) and Yale Law School (1958). Early influences were his mother and father. Edith served as the Deputy Director then Executive Director of the Mayor’s Committee on Unity under NYC Mayor LaGuardia. The Mayor’s Committee on Unity was the precursor to the NYC Commission on Human Rights and fought discrimination in employment practices, public accommodations, and housing.

His father was one of several Harlem community leaders who founded the Carver Bank in response to discriminatory lending practices and worked to integrate the Riverton Apartments while serving as its manager. Alexander joined the National Guard after Law School and began working as an attorney in New York. He was asked to come to Washington D.C. in 1963 to join the staff of the National Security Council in the Kennedy administration.  Continue reading

Upcoming Black History Posts

  • Granville T. Woods
  • Richard Robert Wright, Sr.
  • Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment
  • Edith Sampson
  • Roy Wilkins
  • Julian Bond
  • Mary Church Terrell
WFA Radio
Loading ...
Loading ...


Website security