This video is part of the IEEE REACH (reach.ieee.org) Program’s free education resources on Electric Light. The Inquiry Unit, or lesson plan on Electric Lighting can be found here.

Lewis H. Latimer

Portrait of Lewis Latimer

Lewis Howard Latimer (1848-1928), was an African-American inventor, electrical pioneer, and a son of fugitive slaves. With no access to formal education, Latimer taught himself mechanical drawing while in the Union Navy, and eventually became a chief draftsman, patent expert, and inventor.

Latimer worked with three of the greatest scientific inventors in American history, Alexander Graham Bell, Hiram S. Maxim, and Thomas Alva Edison. He played a critical role in the development of the telephone, and invented the carbon filament, a significant improvement in the production of the incandescent light bulb.

Outside his professional career, Latimer developed a passion for visual art, creative writing, and music. Some products of his artistic endeavors can be viewed at the Lewis Latimer House Museum. Latimer was a Unitarian and a family man.

Lewis H. Latimer House

Lewis Latimer House Museum in the spring

The Lewis H. Latimer House is a modest Queen Anne-style, wood-frame suburban residence constructed between 1887 and 1889 by the Sexton family. Lewis Howard Latimer lived in the house from 1903 until his death in 1928. The house remained in the Latimer family until 1963. Threatened with demolition, the house was moved from Holly Avenue to its present location in 1988.

The Lewis H. Latimer House is owned by the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, operated by the Lewis H. Latimer Fund, Inc., and is a member of the Historic House Trust.

Learn more in the Someone Lived Here Podcast:  Listen

Community Partners & Supporters:


For more information on becoming a community partner, please contact info@lewislatimerhouse.org.