African American History Program of the National Academies
About Biographies Careers Contribute Subscribe Contact

Garrett Augustus Morgan, Sr.

(1877 - 1963)



Garrett Augustus Morgan

Garrett Augustus Morgan, Sr., was the son of former slaves and devoted his life to creating items that made the lives of common people safer and easier. Firefighters in many cities in the early 1900s wore the safety helmet and gas mask that Mr. Morgan invented and for which he was awarded a gold medal at the Second International Exposition of Safety and Sanitation in New York in 1914. The gas mask Morgan invented in 1912 (patent no. 1,113,675) was also used during World War I to protect soldiers from chlorine gas. In 1916, Mr. Morgan made national news for using his gas mask to rescue several men trapped by a gas explosion in a tunnel being constructed under Lake Erie. Mr. Morgan was honored with two gold medals for his heroic efforts. His automated traffic signal (patent no. 1,475,024) featured a third position that halted traffic in all directions between Stop and Go. These signals were the basis for modern traffic signal systems and remained in use until they were replaced with the light signal devices used today.

Links to Additional Information

Biography of Garrett Augustus Morgan from

Biography of Garrett Augustus Morgan from the Biography Channel

Profile of Garrett Morgan from Famous Black Inventors

Garrett Augustus Morgan: Businessman and Inventor, profile on USDOT

This Man Risked his Life to Champion his Invention

About | Biographies | Programs | Careers | Contribute | Subscribe | Contact
AAHP Footer
© 2002-2023 National Academy of Sciences. All Rights Reserved. | Terms of Use and Privacy Statement
No portion of this web site may be reproduced without written consent from the African American History Program®

Powered by Blackbaud
nonprofit software