Lewis Latimer

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Lewis Howard Latimer (1848-1928)
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Sketch by Latimer of his "Process of Manufacturing Carbons"

Lewis Howard Latimer (September 4, 1848 - December 11, 1928) was an African American inventor.

Contents

Birth

He was born in Chelsea, Massachusetts, to Rebecca (1826-?) and George Latimer (c1826-c1880), who were runaway slaves. Rebecca and George were both born in Virginia. Lewis had a sibling: William H. Lattimer (1846-?) who worked as a barber.

Civil War

During the Civil War, Lewis served on the Navy's U.S.S. Massasoit.

Crosby and Gould

After receiving an honorable discharge on July 3, 1865, he gained employment as an office boy with a patent law firm, Crosby and Gould, with a $3.00 per week salary. Later, after his boss recognized his talent for sketching patent drawings, Latimer was promoted to the position of head draftsman earning $20.00 a week.

Marriage

He married Mary Wilson (1848-?) in November of 1873 but they didn't have any children. Mary was born in Rhode Island.

Toilets

In 1873, he invented an improved toilet system for railroad cars called the water closet for railroad cars. In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell hired Latimer to draft the necessary drawings required to receive a patent for Bell's telephone.

Bridgeport

In 1880, he moved to Bridgeport, Connecticut and his brother, William, and his mother, Rebecca, lived with him and his wife. Lewis was hired as assistant manager and draftsman for the U.S. Electric Lighting Company. Latimer received a patent in January 1882 for the "Process of Manufacturing Carbons", an improved method for the production of lightbulb filaments which yielded longer lasting bulbs than Thomas Edison's technique.

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