Little is known about Judy W. Reed, the first African American woman to be granted a patent in the United States.
Judy Reed sought for a patent on her “Dough Kneader and Roller” in January 1884. The application sought to improve upon existing dough kneader designs. Reed’s invention allowed the dough to be mixed more uniformly as it passed through two intermeshed rollers carved with corrugated slats that served as kneaders. The dough was then placed in a covered container to protect it from dust and other particles in the air.
Reed acquired Patent No. 305,474 for her invention on September 23, 1884. Aside from this paper, there is no other record of her life.
Because women used their first and/or middle initials when signing documents, often to conceal their gender, and patent applications did not require the applicant to specify his or her race, it is uncertain if there were any previous African American women inventors before Reed.
Garner, C. (2011, February 10). Judy W. Reed (ca. 1826-?). BlackPast.org. https://www.blackpast.org/african-american-history/reed-judy-w-c-1826/