BlackPast.org Facebook BlackPast.org Twitter

Donate to BlackPast.org BlackPast Blog
  • African American History
  • African American History in the West
  • Global African History
  • Perspectives

NOTE: BlackPast.org will not disclose, use, give or sell any of the requested information to third parties.

7 + 1 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.

Rock the Vote

NAAAS & Affiliates 27th Joint National Conference

Shop Amazon and help BlackPast.org

Blackpast.org in the Classroom

Parker, Alice H. (1895- ?)

Image Ownership: Public domain

SPONSOR: Juli Farris

Alice H. Parker was an African American inventor famous for her patented system of central heating using natural gas. In the 1920s using natural gas to power a heating furnace was a revolutionary idea that conserved energy and paved the way for the central heating systems we all have in our homes today.

Parker’s patent was filed on December 23, 1919 for her heating system invention. Her design allowed cool air to be drawn into the furnace, then conveyed through a heat exchanger that delivered warm air through ducts to individual rooms of a house. The concept of central heating was around before Parker was born, but her design was unique because it used natural gas as its fuel instead of coal or wood that had been previously used.

Parker is said to have been inspired for her design because she felt her fireplace was not effective enough in warming her home through the cold New Jersey winters. Her invention was convenient because it meant that people did not have to go outside and chop or buy wood. It also decreased the risk of house or building fires that heating units posed by eliminating the need to leave a burning fireplace on throughout the night. Although her initial designs were never used, her idea that natural gas and ducts could be used to heat different areas of a house was a major step towards the heating systems use today.

Very little is known about Alice Parker’s life. She was born in 1895, grew up in Morristown, New Jersey, and attended classes at the Howard University Academy in Washington D.C. The academy was a high school connected to Howard University, and in 1910 Parker earned a certificate with honors from the Academy.

Parker’s filing a patent was a remarkable milestone, as she was an African American woman in the early 20th century since her filing for a patent preceded both the Civil Rights Movement and the Women’s Liberation Movement which subsequently removed many of the barriers that women of her generation faced. At this time, African American women had very limited opportunities and Parker’s receiving of a patent for her invention during that time was a truly unusual and outstanding achievement.

Sources:
“African American Inventors and Innovators” http://www.thehistorycenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/AA_Inventors_booklet_lo.pdf; “Glimpse of History: Morristown Resident’s Invention Keeps us Warm to this Day,” http://www.nj.com/morris/index.ssf/2014/02/glimpse_of_history_morristown_residents_invention_keeps_us_warm_to_this_day.html.

Contributor:

University of Washington, Seattle

Entry Categories:

Copyright 2007-2017 - BlackPast.org v3.0 NDCHost - California | blackpast@blackpast.org | Your donations help us to grow. | We welcome your suggestions. | Mission Statement

BlackPast.org is an independent non-profit corporation 501(c)(3). It has no affiliation with the University of Washington. BlackPast.org is supported in part by a grant from Humanities Washington, a state-wide non-profit organization supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the state of Washington, and contributions from individuals and foundations.