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Author archive for: Jackie Mushinsky

Celebrate Black History Month: Early Innovations

Posted in In and Around the Library

Inventor Charles S.L. Baker (left) and unidentified man. Photo credit: Library of Congress.
Inventor Charles S.L. Baker (left) and unidentified man.
Photo credit: Library of Congress.

Black inventors were not always credited for their work, however, in 1913, an assistant examiner at the United States Patent Office did publish a list of black inventors.

 Miriam Benjamin:  Gong and Signal Chair
Miriam Benjamin:
Gong and Signal Chair

A few other of the many Black innovators are listed below:

1798 – James Forten, Sr. – Sail Handling device.

1821 – Thomas L. Jennings – Dry-Cleaning process (credited with being first
Black to receive a patent).

1843 – Norbert Rillieux – Multiple Evaporation System for the production of sugar.

1883 – Humpfrey H. Reynolds – Improved Window Ventilator
for railroad cars.

1884 – Granville T. Woods – Improved Telephone Transmitter.
Pre-1890 – Ellen Eglin – clothes wringer.

1916 – Madeline M. Turner – Fruit Press.

Sources (these and many other sources relative to Black hisory are available in the Gordon Library Collection):

Black Firsts by Jessie Carney Smith with Casper L. Jordan & Robert Johns, foreword by Johnneta B. Cole; c. 1994 by Visible Ink Press.
Created Equal: the lives and ideas of Black American Innovators by James Michael Brodie, c.1993 by William Morrow and Company, Inc.

Celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Posted in In and Around the Library

mlk day 2015 png

Who can express it better than those who have been in the forefront of the quest for peace, justice and equality? In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, it is only fitting to celebrate with a quote by King’s wife, Coretta Scott King. The following quote, an excerpt from a letter written by Mrs. King, is posted on The King Center website, and has a powerful message for all of us.


The Meaning of the King Holiday by Coretta Scott King 

“On this day we commemorate Dr. King’s great dream of a vibrant, multiracial nation united in justice, peace and reconciliation; a nation that has a place at the table for children of every race and room at the inn for every needy child. We are called on this holiday, not merely to honor, but to celebrate the values of equality, tolerance and interracial sister and brotherhood he so compellingly expressed in his great dream for America. It is a day of interracial and intercultural cooperation and sharing. No other day of the year brings so many peoples from different cultural backgrounds together in such a vibrant spirit of brother and sisterhood. Whether you are African-American, Hispanic or Native American, whether you are Caucasian or Asian-American, you are part of the great dream Martin Luther King, Jr. had for America. This is not a black holiday; it is a peoples’ holiday. And it is the young people of all races and religions who hold the keys to the fulfillment of his dream…”

– Coretta Scott King

You can find the books pictured above along with many related print and electronic resources in Gordon Library:


4-H Rockets to the Rescue event hosted by Gordon Library

Posted in In and Around the Library

4 h rocket blog picOn Wednesday, October 22nd, Gordon Library hosted an event in partnership with the 4-H Youth Development Program of UMass Extension, the Center for Agriculture. Despite a very rainy evening, the event was well attended by club members and families interested in participating in 4-H. The library showcased some treasures from the Archives, including Robert Goddard’s lab coat and his briefcase along with a selection of metal parts from his experimental rockets. A brief history of rocketry was given by Jackie Mushinsky and several WPI students spoke about their project work at WPI. The 4-H robotics club, whose leader is a WPI senior, demonstrated the robot that the club members built and used in several competitions during the past year. Kim Pond, UMass Extension Educator and 4-H S.E.T. Liaison, led a hands-on project, where those attending built “stomp rockets” and had a chance to try them out. The launch apparatus is made from 2 liter bottles and plastic tubing – very creative! All involved enjoyed an evening that was both educational and fun!

Links are included below to more information relevant to the event:

4-H National Youth Science Day:

Robert Goddard: