Edison Papers Editors' Note. Lewis Howard Latimer (1848-1928) was a man of extraordinary talent and character. A self-taught draftsman and inventor, he joined the Edison electrical companies in the mid-1880s and remained with them until the 1892 formation of General Electric, with whom he stayed for nearly two decades. In 1995 the Queens Borough Public Library, which holds a collection of Latimer's papers and artifacts, mounted Blueprint for Change, an exhibit exploring and honoring his life and work, accompanied by a catalog of the same name.

The essays on this website were written by historians and included with the Blueprint catalogue. They represent meticulous research in documents of all kinds, from technical drawings to court records to newspaper clippings, and they flesh out the meaning and context of Latimer's career. We receive many requests for information about Lewis Latimer; these pages provide authoritative answers. The "Introduction" is a brief overview; "Exhibition" is a heavily illustrated tour through the exhibition (recommended for all users); and the illustrated essays "George Latimer Case," "Culture of Invention," and "Inventing a Better Life" are deeper explorations of the time and Latimer's career.

The text and images appear through the courtesy and under the copyright of the Queens Borough Public Library. The editors of the Edison Papers have not changed the text except to correct errors in spelling or transcription and to supply hypertext links where appropriate. Latimer's patents have been added as Adobe Acrobat® files.


The young Lewis Latimer Edited by:Janet M. Schneider
Bayla SingerEssays by:Asa J. Davis
Kenneth R. Manning
Bayla Singer
The elderly Lewis Latimer