Johnna's Articles

A Special Daily Resource Shared by Kerry Ruff

Sunday, February 7th, 2021




Very little known about Ms. Alice H. Parker but it appears, she was born in Morristown, New Jersey in either 1885 or 1895. There are no records or history about her upbringing but records show that she graduated from Howard University Academy with honors in 1910. Her personal and professional life after 1910 is a mystery but in 1919, Ms. Parker would appear on public record, gaining approval for her patent. Ms. Alice H. Parker was granted a patent for her natural gas run central home heating furnace. Her heating system used independently controlled burner units that drew in cold air and conveyed the heat through a heat exchanger. This air is then fed to ducts to heat the house or building. Ms. Parker filed the patent in 1919 and she received Patent No. US132590A on December 23, 1919.   In 1919, most buildings were heated using coal or wood but Ms. Parker’s design, used gas instead. It was not the first gas patent but it was the first to use individually controlled air ducts to transfer the heat to different areas of the building. Unfortunately, this design was never implemented due to safety concerns over the regulation of heat flow but it was the precursor for modern heating systems. Ms. Alice H. Parker’s idea was inspiration and led the way for thermostats, zone heating and forced air furnaces which are all common features of modern central heating. By using gas, the furnace was able to heat homes much more efficiently than wood or coal could and eliminated the dangers of leaving a fireplace burning all night. In 2019, the National Society of Black Physicists honored Ms. Parker as an African American inventor for her patented system of central heating using natural gas. The New Jersey Chamber of Commerce established the Alice H. Parker Women Leaders in Innovation Awards to honor women who create economic opportunities in New Jersey. Today we honor Ms. Alice H. Parker for her creation that allows us to all stay warm and cozy in our homes and businesses. She was an innovator in her design and I hope to think she was an innovator in her life and she lived it well. Thank you. Thank you. Happy Black History Month.


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