1818-1891 -Â Born into slavery, Biddy Mason traveled from Mississippi to southern California with plantation owners Robert and Rebecca Smith and their family and slaves. But before the Smiths could whisk the group away to the slave state of Utah to retain ownership of their slaves, Mason enlisted the aid of two black Los Angeles businessmen and gained freedom for herself and her family.
Finally able to choose her own path in life, Mason earned a good income as a nurse-midwife for both newly arrived immigrants and wealthy clients and subsequently gained respect in the community. Through donations, she supported charities that helped the needy of Los Angeles and that helped build the first African Methodist Episcopal church in California. In 1989 a memorial depicting Mason’s achievements was erected in Los Angeles.
William Purvis of Philadelphia invented and patented improvements to theÂ 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 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.Â Continue reading
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. McCreeÂ Â improved on the fire-escape used in bigger buildings and created a portable woodenÂ fire escapeÂ 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 #Â 440,322Â )
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.Â Continue reading