Little Known Black History Fact: Henrietta Bradberry

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    Henrietta Bradberry, a Chicago housewife, didn’t sit idle as she minded the affairs of she and her husband’s home. On May 25, 1943, one of Mrs. Bradberry’s inventions, an innovative “bed rack,” would pass through the U.S. Patent Office.

    Bradberry’s bed rack was an attachment that could be applied to the end of a bed to hang up and refresh worn clothes with fresh flowing air. The patent she filed in 1941 better explains the purpose of the rack: “This invention relates to bed attachments especially for use in connection with exposing bed clothes to freshening by air after use.”

    Bradberry also made the rack collapsible by providing a pedal that would rise and lower the rack for proper use.

    The Kentucky native’s inventive spirit was at work once more when two years later, she invented a new way for torpedoes to be discharged from submarines and subterranean forts. Unlike the two years it took the Patent Office to approve of her bed rack, the times of World War II could have made it so that Bradberry’s invention was given the fast track.

    The torpedo firing mechanism made it so that several torpedoes could be launched and that water would not get into the part of the machinery that made unleashing the missiles possible.

    According to former U.S. Patent Office examiner and author Patricia Carter Sluby’s 2004 book, “The Inventive Spirit Of African-Americans,” Bradberry said that being at home gave her plenty of time to perfect her inventions and that ideas frequently came to her.

    Bradberry passed away in 1979.

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