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Biographies Unit Biographies

Garrett Morgan 1877–1963
African American Inventor

Garrett Morgan's inventions did more than make him rich or famous. They saved many lives.

In 1912, Morgan invented a type of gas mask. Gas masks allowed firefighters to breathe in smoke-filled buildings. Morgan became famous when he used the gas mask to rescue a group of workers trapped in an underground tunnel. Afterwards, firefighters around the country began buying Morgan's gas mask. The United States army also used the gas mask during World War I.

One of Morgan's most famous inventions was the traffic light. Morgan saw that there were many car accidents in cities. He decided that he needed to help make streets safer. His traffic light made travel much safer. Morgan's traffic light was used throughout North America for many years. Today, traffic lights help keep roads safe around the world.

Morgan made more inventions throughout his life. He invented an electric hair-curling comb when he was elderly and blind. Morgan liked to invent new things.

Comprehension Check

What did Garrett Morgan invent?

Critical Thinking

Do you think the traffic light is a useful invention? Explain your answer.