Inventors are inspirational. Lewis Howard Latimer was an African American inventor, draftsman, author, teacher, and engineer. He is best known for his contributions to the patenting of the light bulb and the telephone.
Lewis Howard Latimer was born on September 4, 1848 in Chelsea, Massachusetts. He had three older siblings and his parents had escaped slavery six years before he was born. His father, George, had disappeared shortly after the Dred Scott decision in 1857. Lewis went to work to help support his family. In 1864, despite his young age, he enlisted in the United States Navy. Following his participation in the Civil War, he accepted an office position at the Crosby and Gould patent law office. He learned mechanical drawing and drafting. He became a draftsman. He also worked on inventions, including an early air conditioning unit and an improved train bathroom. He worked with Alexander Graham Bell to draft Bell’s design of the telephone. He also worked for Hiram Maxim and Thomas Edison on incandescent lighting. Latimer published Incandescent Electric Lighting: A Practical Description of the Edison System in 1890. In 1894, he improved elevators by creating a safety elevator. He continued inventing. He, also, worked as a patent consultant until 1922.
Latimer had gotten married in 1873. He and his wife, once Mary Wilson, had two daughters. They were involved members of their Unitarian Church and he was involved with Civil War veterans groups. He was a founding member of his church. Latimer also wrote poetry and plays. He taught immigrants mechanical drawing and English when he could. Lewis Howard Latimer died on December 11, 1928 in New York City, New York. He was 80 years old.
Lewis Howard Latimer was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame for his work on electric filament manufacturing techniques. Houses, a school, and a museum were all named in Latimer’s honor. Be inspired! Have a bright day!