Bessie Virginia Blount was a physical therapist, inventor, and forensic scientist also known by her married name, Bessie Blount Griffin. Blount, born in Hickory, Virginia, initially attended Union Junior College. She received nurse’s training at Community Kennedy Memorial Hospital in Newark, New Jersey, then went on to Panzer College of Physical Education and Hygiene in East Orange, New Jersey. Along the way, she studied physical therapy in Chicago.
In 1953, Blount appeared on the WCAU Philadelphia television show “The Big Idea”, becoming the 1st African-American and the 1st woman to be given such recognition. On the program, she stated, “A Black woman can invent something for the benefit of human kind.”
INVENTIONS: During World War II, as part of her work with wounded soldiers, Blount devised an apparatus to help amputees feed themselves. She invented an electronic feeding device in 1951, a feeding tube that delivered one mouthful of food at a time, controlled by biting down on the tube. The American Veterans Administration did not accept her invention, so she sold it to the French government.
Blount was once a physical therapist to the mother-in-law of Theodore Edison, son of famed inventor Thomas Edison. She and the younger Edison became close friends and while in his home she invented the disposable cardboard emesis basin. This invention was also not accepted by the American Veterans Administration, so she sold it to Belgium.
Read more about her career and legacy at: Daily Black History Facts