USPTO to rename Public Search Facility after pioneering Black patent examiner Henry Baker

Press Release

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WASHINGTON—At its Black Innovation and Entrepreneurship program featuring the world premiere of the documentary short “America’s Ingenuity” about his work, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announces it will rename its Public Search Facility after Henry E. Baker (1857 – 1928), a pioneering Black patent examiner and public servant who compiled the first list of African American patent holders as a weapon against pervasive racism.

A lawyer, assistant patent examiner, and civil rights activist, Henry E. Baker spent over three decades compiling his list of Black patent holders. The list, still used by historians today, is both an immense repository of contributions by Black inventors to the technological progress of humanity and a powerful record of one man’s public quest for racial equality. Read more about Henry Baker in our recent Journeys of Innovation story.

“For decades, Henry Baker worked to compile a comprehensive list of African American patent holders to highlight their innovative contributions to our country,” said Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves. “One of the names on his list was James Wormley, an entrepreneur in the D.C. area and one of America’s first Black patent-holders. I’m a proud descendent of James Wormley, so I know first-hand how important it is to support minority entrepreneurs, innovators, and businesses.”

“Henry Baker’s story teaches us that diverse employee perspectives have always made the agency’s work better,” said Kathi Vidal, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO. “Renaming our Public Search Facility after Henry Baker is just one way we honor the work of an exceptional past employee who went above and beyond and made a real difference in recording and preserving the history of invention. It’s also an homage to the vital work done by civil servants for generations, including the 13,000+ employees I am privileged to count among my colleagues at the USPTO today.” 

The search facility, located at the USPTO headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia, provides public access to patent and trademark information in a variety of formats including online, microfilm, and print. Trained staff are available to assist public users.

The official public renaming ceremony will be held at a later date, to be announced in the coming months. In the meantime, the USPTO encourages other descendants of Baker’s list inventors, or those who may know of such descendants, to reach out to the USPTO historian at