Talk:Garrett Morgan

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 Definition African American inventor and businessman who is well-known for his protective breathing hood, a variety of hair-straightening and cosmetic preparations, and a type of traffic signal. [d] [e]

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Here's a fresh entry for Garrett Morgan. I wrote about 30% of this article as it originally appreared on Wikipedia; since bringing it to CZ I have brought along some illustrations and text from an old webpage of my own which you can see here. This has added about 20% new material, particularly coverage of the Lake Erie Crib Disaster of 1917 and Morgan's role in it.

Note on history of entry at WP

I should note a few things for other CZ Authors and editors:

  • The WP entry has been vandalized at least once every month or so -- hope we won't have to worry about that here! Most of the vandalism was random in nature.
  • I've spent years researching Morgan's life, using the GM Morgan papers at the Western Reserve Historical Society, the archives of the Cleveland Press and Cleveland Plain Dealer, and the US Patent office's database. While it is true that Morgan did indeed invent a "safety hood" and a traffic signal, the safety hood was not (as is often claimed) the ancestor of the WWI gas mask or the modern gas mask; it was just a passive respirator with a reserve sack and an intake hose that dragged on the ground. This made it great for fires, where breathable cooler air was at ground level, but would have rendered it useless in WWI because mustard gas, being heavier than air, would have settled into trenches; the user of this hood would have been worse off than someone without one! Morgan used his safety hood to rescue several men in the great Lake Erie Crib Explosion (an underwater/underground project building an intake for the city's water supply), but the claims made about his hood itself are often exaggerated and inaccurate. As for the traffic signal, it was not the first of its kind, or even among the first traffic signals; a similar, semaphore-type signal was used in London sixty years before Morgan's patent, and even in Cleveland, traffic signals of a more advanced type were already installed at some city intersections before Morgan's patent was filed. This is all readily documentable, but -- see next item:
  • There has been some discussion on the Wikipedia's talk page for this entry, because of links to the "Brinkster" website. The Brinkster website itself is purely informational, showing how in fact neither the safety hood nor the traffic signal was the first of the kind, and illustrating other previoous inventions with diagrams, engravings, and links to original US patents. It's all very well documented with historical references, and accurate. However the site has been linked to by sites run by white-power groups intent on debunking claims of African-American achievements. Recently, an edit war has erupted on WP, with people at anonymous IP addresses repeatedly deleting the link to the Brinkster site, and me restoring them. If the CZ community feels they should go, perhaps they should -- but I hope that they can be judged freshly on the merits. At least, they suggest the value of a longer entry for CZ on Gas Masks and Traffic Signals, and much of their imagery and sources are already public domain; I would certainly rather see CZ offer such info than a possibly ill-motivated site.

I am not sure how best to handle the above issues, but wanted to alert the CZ community to them. I'm going to work, gradually, to improve this entry, and hope that some from the History or Engineering workgroups may take an interest in it. Russell Potter 15:41, 11 May 2007 (CDT)


It just doesn't flow. For example "a type of traffic signal".... but "type" should specify the X or the Y [type]. If the intro is not willing to go into that detail, then it should say something like "better traffic signal". And intro becomes bunch of "he's renowned for, whose famous inventions include". (Chunbum Park 16:33, 5 January 2008 (CST))