Learn from the innovators of the past

Browse Journeys of Innovation articles featuring innovators throughout history

The USPTO seeks to inspire and encourage diversity and innovation by highlighting innovators throughout history and chronicling their stories. Find inspiration from the journeys of these inventors and entrepreneurs—where they got their start, the challenges they faced, and what it took to bring their ideas to fruition and their brands that impact society to life. These stories also emphasize the importance of creating and protecting intellectual property, and the critical role it has played in innovations past and present.

Browse all stories below, or search for a name or story title.

Photos of Robert Pelham and Miriam Benjamin and James Wormley’s U.S. patent no. 242,091 for a life saving apparatus overlaid on a detailed, colorized map of Washington, D.C.
James Wormley, Miriam Benjamin, and Robert Pelham
Three inventors and the community they called home Full Story >
Garrett Morgan with a medal pinned to his suit jacket alongside drawings from his smoke hood and traffic signal patent
Garrett Morgan
One inventor's quest to build a safer and stronger community Full Story >
Bathed in sunshine, a young girl with a bowl-cut wearing a jeans jumper and socks, cozily curls up on a pillowy, pastel-floral window seat and reads to her doll from a book in her lap. Several additional books whose covers match the doll by her side are strewn about.
Pleasant Rowland
How Pleasant Rowland’s American Girl® helped tweens find their place in history Full Story >
Black and white photos of Henry Baker and George Washington Murray, two African American men wearing suits and ties, with a handwritten list of inventors and their patents in the background
Henry Baker and George Washington Murray
Documenting the history of Black innovation one name at a time Full Story >
Three fashionably dressed white women surrounding a desk, posing and admiring posters of Page Boy store fronts
The Frankfurt sisters
How the Frankfurt sisters used fashion to empower women in the workplace Full Story >
In a white lab coat, Dr. Patricia Bath smiles into the camera.
Patricia Bath
How Patricia Bath, physician and inventor, made it from Harlem to the Hall of Fame Full Story >
A middle-aged woman in a silk dress sitting in a chair while examining a typewriter
Beulah Louise Henry
How Beulah Louise Henry became one of the most prolific and beloved inventors of the 20th century. Full Story >
In typical Victorian dress, Samuel Allen poses for a formal portrait photograph.
Samuel Leeds Allen
How Samuel Leeds Allen invented and marketed an American classic, the Flexible Flyer sled. Full Story >
An older man, George Gillespie, in full military uniform with several medals, including the Medal of Honor pinned to his lapel.
George Gillespie
How George Gillespie, a Civil War veteran and Medal of Honor recipient, redesigned and patented America's highest military award. Full Story >
Johnny Pacheco sits on cushions and faces the camera. He wears an embroidered linen shirt.
Johnny Pacheco
Johnny Pacheco founded Fania Records in 1964 and created the Latin music and dance sensation that came to be known, simply, as “salsa.” Full Story >
Johnny Pacheco sentado en unos cojines y mirando a la cámara. Lleva una camisa de lino bordada.
Johnny Pacheco
Johnny Pacheco fundó Fania Records en 1964 y creó el género musical y de baile latino conocido como "salsa". Full Story >
Maude Adams wearing a tunic, skirt, sash, and beads stands at three-quarters profile, framed by trees in the background, and looks off to the right.
Maude Adams
Maude Adams, the most successful American actress of the early 20th century, invented a light bulb that helped actors everywhere shine as they never had before. Full Story >
Jim and Jane Henson pose with several puppets.
Jim Henson
An artist, puppeteer, and innovator, Jim Henson created the Muppets and forever changed the entertainment business. Full Story >
United States postage stamp showing the trefoil badge and Juliette Gordon Low in a Girl Scout uniform.
Juliette Gordon Low
Juliette Gordon Low, founder of the Girls Scouts of the USA, created a lasting organization for women’s empowerment. Full Story >
Portrait of Hinda Miller, Polly Smith, and Lisa Lindahl.
Hinda Miller, Polly Smith, and Lisa Lindahl
Designed to decrease discomfort for female runners, the sports bra has become an athletic necessity as well as a modern fashion staple. Full Story >
A man in a white coat works with equipment in a laboratory.
Percy Julian
A scientist makes inroads in chemistry and civil rights. Full Story >
Floyd Smith parachute exhibit and the accompanying virtual skydive video
Floyd Smith
How inventor and entrepreneur Floyd Smith made the skies safer for aviators. Full Story >
A left hand rests on a tabulation machine, and a right hand picks up a card.
Herman Hollerith
How a statistician's competitive spirit laid the groundwork for the modern census. Full Story >
Image: 1950s KitchenAid illustrated advertisement of a housewife and husband excitedly admiring their new dishwasher. I the top right, dishes magically float from a hospital and industrial dishwasher into their household dishwasher.
Josephine Cochrane
How Josephine Cochrane defied social norms and invented the modern dishwasher. Full Story >
Image: The Black and Decker cordless Lunar Drill operated by an astronaut on a simulated surface of moon
Carroll Gantz
How NASA's moon missions and a patented design led to a popular hand-held vacuum cleaner. Full Story >
Image: Helmeted U.S. soldiers look out over the prow of a Higgens boat as it navigates crashing waves towards the beaches of Normandy on D-Day.
Andrew Higgins
How a New Orleans inventor helped defeat the Nazis. Full Story >
Image: Crops being irrigated in the California Imperial Valley, circa 1919.
Harriet Strong
How one woman’s fortitude shaped agriculture and brought water to the American West. Full Story >