For more than fifty years, Henry Baker was employed by the U.S. Patent Office, first as a copyist in 1877 then later as a patent Examiner.   He is credited as the first person to compile a list of African Americans who have applied and received patents in the United States.  African American architect, John A. Lankford, purchased from Bake,r Patents by Negroes 1834-1900, which was a four-volume set compiled by Baker for the Patent Office.  This set contains copies of 2000+ certificates of original patents and patents for improvements submitted by African Americans during the 19th century.  Upon his death, Lankford willed the Baker books to Howard University and they are believed to be the only known copy of this work.[3]   Baker died in 1928 and is buried a Harmony Cemetery in Landover, MD.                  

[See The Gallery for images of Baker and of Lankford’s donation of the Baker books to Howard University].     

           [3]After his death, John A. Lankford’s wife, Charlotte, donated the Baker books to Mordecai Johnson, then president of Howard University.  A 1950 photograph shows Johnson accepting the gift from Charlotte A. Lankford and her daughter, I. Johnson.  Dean  L.K. Downing of the School of Engineering and University Librarian, Joseph Reason, are also featured.  The photograph appears in the Howard University Bulletin, 29 (February 1950): 40.  The original set of books has been microfilmed for use and is available at the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center.


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February 2001