Our Visit to Thomas Edison National Historical Park

Being a historical fact finder and interested in anything to do with people of African descent I decided the family should visit Thomas Edison's home and laboratory. What I know of Edison was that he used the U.S. Patent office to take the credit for many inventions he himself did not produce. I wanted to see how this National Historical Park would portray him (factually or fictionally) and I was curious to see if any mention of Lewis H. Latimer would be on display. Welp . . . you can probably guess the answer to that one . . . nope. Who is Latimer you say? Well he was an amazing, Renaissance man who helped create the electric industry as we know it in the 21st century. He was also a Black man living in the late 19th century. 


Let's give a list of Latimer's contribution to the world:

  • Was the draftsman who drew the blueprints for Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone in 1878. Source
  • Three years later, in 1881, he and assistant Joseph Nichols were the first persons to receive a patent for the direct forerunner to today’s commonly used light bulb. Prior to this, the electric lamp by Thomas Edison and others had no real practical use because it could not emit light for an extended period. But the new light bulb by Latimer (with assistant Nichols) used a revolutionary method of manufacturing carbon filaments that produced light for effectively extended periods. It was because of this ingenious invention that Latimer was asked by numerous countries, states, and cities — including Philadelphia — to write an instruction manual (which he did in 1890) and to supervise the installation of incandescent light plants. In addition, it is quite interesting that he was the original draftsman for Edison (inventor of the 1879 temporary electric lamp) who relied on Latimer as the expert witness in Edison’s patent infringement suit. Source


  • In 1890, Latimer published a book entitled Incandescent Electric Lighting: A Practical Description of the Edison System.


  • “Latimer invented and patented a process for making carbon filaments for light bulbs,” and helped install broad-scale lighting systems for New York City, Philadelphia, Montreal, and London. Latimer holds the patents for the electric lamp, issued in 1881, and for the “process of manufacturing carbons” (the filament used in incandescent light bulbs), issued in 1882. Source


 Needless to say, in negating his existence the powers that be continue the notion that Blacks Lives truly Don't Matter, even when the evidence and history proves otherwise. As I walked through Glenmont, Edison's home, I wondered how often Latimer and his family were able to dine in such a fine home. Also, was Latimer able to live just as lavishly, being the master draftsmen and all. Question, if you can draw the plan and write a book about it, how is someone else allowed to take credit for it?! Anyway, the girls had a blast and once they are older I will tell them the story of Latimer and Tesla as well.