Uncovering Lewis Latimer’s Contributions to the Electric Industry

A new book, sponsored by Guidehouse, recognizes the unsung contributions of an industry founding father

Lewis Latimer was instrumental in advancing the electric industry in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but because of his race, he rarely received the recognition.

A new book, “Lewis Latimer, The First Hidden Figure,” authored by Public Utilities Fortnightly editor Steve Mitnick, details Latimer’s life and serves as a timely reminder of the impact of racial injustice to society.

In the book, Mitnick describes Latimer as “the Forrest Gump of the Second Industrial Revolution that was literally everywhere.” A true innovator, Latimer helped Alexander Graham Bell secure the telephone patent, competed with Thomas Edison with a superior light bulb filament and manufacturing process that Edison adopted, and was then hired by Edison to lead his patent defenses and offenses.

To help share Latimer’s story, Guidehouse has sponsored Mitnick’s book, which is available for free download. Guidehouse’s sponsorship also helped to establish the PUF Latimer Scholarship Fund, to be administered by the American Association of Blacks in Energy, to help young Black women and men reach for their greatest potential.

“While our recognition of Latimer is not timely, nor nearly enough, to celebrate his monumental contributions, it’s a positive step toward creating a new environment in which innovation is a little less bound by misguided concepts of who has the capacity to make great and innovative contributions to society,” said Jan Vrins, leader of Guidehouse’s global Energy, Sustainability, and Infrastructure segment, in an introduction to the book.

Download "Lewis Latimer, The First Hidden Figure"

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