Cover image for Notable Black American scientists
Notable Black American scientists
Krapp, Kristine M.
Publication Information:
Detroit : Gale Research, [1999]

Physical Description:
xxvi, 349 pages : illustrations ; 29 cm
Profiles approximately 250 black Americans who have made contributions to the sciences, including inventors, researchers, award winners, and educators.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
Q141 .N726 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize
Q141 .N726 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Reference material
Q141 .N726 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Black History Non-Circ

On Order



This reference source provides entries recording the achievements, importance and impacts of the most significant 250 black American scientists throughout time.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

These two new titles from Gale will be welcome additions to most library collections. Notable Black American Men is the companion to Jessie Carney Smith's Notable Black American Women (1992) and Notable Black American Women, Book II (1996), which have become standard reference sources. It profiles 500 men, from poet Jupiter Hammon (b. 1711) to Tiger Woods. Subjects were chosen from an initial list of 2,500 because they met certain criteria, including important contributions to business, the arts, social justice, government, and scholarship. Emphasis seems to be on "firsts" --the first black man elected to public office in a state, the first black man to sing at the Metropolitan Opera, the first black man to receive a college degree, etc. Each entry begins with birth and death dates and a few words describing the subject's major fields of endeavor, followed by a biographical essay, a list of references, and, in some cases, a note on collections of source material. Entries vary in length, depending on the importance of the individual and the amount of information available. Martin Luther King Jr. is covered in six pages, and artist Grafton Tyler Brown (1842Cornish (1795^-1858) are each covered in one. Profiles highlight influences and obstacles as well as achievements. Current addresses are provided for subjects who are living. Approximately 400 photographs accompany the entries; the portrait found in the entry for Louis Wade Sullivan, Secretary of Health and Human Services during the Bush administration, is obviously an error. The volume concludes with a geographic and occupation index, along with an index of people, places, events, institutions, and other terms contained in the entries. As the Board noted in its review of Notable Black American Women [RBB Ap 15 92], the real value of this volume lies not so much in covering well-known figures but in bringing to light more obscure individuals like explorer Matthew A. Henson (1866^-1955), believed to be the first person to reach the North Pole; and Charles H. Parrish Sr. (1859^-1931), who was born a slave and became a university president. There is also fresh perspective to be gained by examining the lives of men such as James Baldwin, Frederick Douglass, and Michael Jordan within the context of the struggles and achievements of those who are not so famous. Almost 30 of the men who are profiled in Notable Black American Men are also covered in Notable Black American Scientists. In all, Scientists has entries for 254 scientists, inventors, and physicians, 58 of whom are women. The format of the two volumes is similar, except that there is a time line at the beginning of Scientists, and most entries include a few writings by as well as about the subject. There are gender and field of specialization indexes in addition to the general index. Entries in Scientists are generally shorter and less detailed; for example, the entry on physicist Warren Elliott Henry is less than half as long as his entry in Men. Scientists lists only two sources in the Henry bibliography, but Men lists eight. Again, the value of the book lies in its profiles of not-so-well-known figures who have made significant contributions to science. George Washington Carver and Mae Jemison are familiar names, but how many people have heard of Garrett A. Morgan (1877^-1963), who invented the gas mask and the traffic light; or Susan Smith McKinney Steward (1847^-1918), the first black female doctor in the state of New York? A curious omission is George Cleveland Hall, described in Notable Black American Men as "one of the leading African American medical practitioners in the country at the turn of the century." Notable Black American Scientists expands the coverage of Oryx's Distinguished African American Scientists of the 20th Century [RBB F 15 96], which profiles 100 men and women and is frequently cited as a source for entries in the Gale volume. Both of the titles under review are highly recommended for school, public, and academic libraries. Notable Black American Men, in particular, is indispensable for most collections, especially where its companion volume on women has been heavily used. It can be supplemented with Gale's Current Black Biography series for more coverage of today's popular figures and news makers.

Choice Review

The 52 contributors to this compilation of 254 bibliographic profiles emphasize the achievements of black scientists and physicians, men and women, from Colonial times to the present, in the territory that is now the US. Little has been previously published about the lives and scientific achievements of many of the subjects. Each entry begins with basic information about each subject--name, year of birth and death (if deceased), and specialty. A biographical essay follows, ranging in length from about 400 to 2,000 words and covering the subject's life and professional accomplishments. A background in science is not required to understand the scientific explanations. Most biographical essays are followed by "Selected Writings by the Scientist" and "Further Reading." A time line (1619-1995) includes scientific achievements of the subjects and significant events in African American history. There are indexes by gender, fields of specialization, and subjects. The introduction claims that "An effort was made to include as many female scientists as possible, and there are 59 women featured here," but only 58 women appear in the gender index. Recommended for academic libraries. F. A. Hall; Virginia Commonwealth University