African American Patents
When an inventor files for a patent, the application form does not require a person to state his/her race. Thus little was known about early African American inventors. So librarians from one of the Patent and Trademark Depository Libraries decided to compile a database of patents granted to black inventors by researching patent applications and other records. These compilations include Henry Baker’s Patents by Negroes [1834-1900]. Baker was a second assistant patent examiner at the USPTO who was dedicated to uncovering and publicizing the contributions of Black inventors.
The database listed the inventor’s name followed by the patent number(s), which is the unique number assigned to an invention when a patent is issued, the date the patent was issued and the title of the invention. However, the database was misunderstood as readers falsely assumed that the title of the invention meant that the inventor had invented the first comb, elevator, cell phone and such. In the case of Henry Sampson, readers even misunderstood the title of gamma cell to mean Sampson had invented the first cell phone.
Read more here from Thought Co.