Humanities › History & Culture Henry Blair - African American Inventor The second black inventor issued a US patent. Share Flipboard Email Print Library of Congress History & Culture Inventions Famous Inventors Famous Inventions Patents & Trademarks Invention Timelines Computers & The Internet American History African American History African History Ancient History and Culture Asian History European History Genealogy Latin American History Medieval & Renaissance History Military History The 20th Century Women's History View More By Mary Bellis Inventions Expert Mary Bellis covered inventions and inventors for ThoughtCo for 18 years. She is known for her independent films and documentaries, including one about Alexander Graham Bell. our editorial process Mary Bellis Updated January 31, 2019 Henry Blair was the only inventor to be identified in the Patent Office records as "a colored man." Blair was born in Montgomery County, Maryland around 1807. He received a patent on October 14, 1834, for a seed planter and a patent in 1836 for a cotton planter. Henry Blair was the second black inventor to receive a patent the first was Thomas Jennings who received a patent in 1821 for a dry cleaning process. Henry Blair signed his patents with an "x" because he could not write. Henry Blair died in 1860. The Research of Henry Baker What we know about early black inventors comes mostly from the work of Henry Baker. He was an assistant patent examiner at the U.S. Patent Office who was dedicated to uncovering and publicizing the contributions of Black inventors. Around 1900, the Patent Office conducted a survey to gather information about black inventors and their inventions. Letters were sent to patent attorneys, company presidents, newspaper editors, and prominent African Americans. Henry Baker recorded the replies and followed-up on leads. Baker’s research also provided the information used to select Black inventions exhibited at the Cotton Centennial in New Orleans, the World’s Fair in Chicago, and the Southern Exposition in Atlanta. By the time of his death, Henry Baker had compiled four massive volumes.