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Tuesday, 19 November 2013

BLACK SOCIAL HISTORY : AFRICAN AMERICAN " ALEXANDER MILES " WAS AN INVENTOR WHO WAS BEST KNOWN FOR BEING AWARDED A PATENT FOR AN OPENING AND CLOSING ELEVATOR DOOR DESIGN IN 1887 : GOES INTO THE " HALL OF BLACK GENIUS "

                          BLACK              SOCIAL             HISTORY                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Alexander Miles  May 18, 1838 - May 7, 1918  was an African-American inventor who was best known for being awarded a patent for an automatically opening and closing elevator door design in 1887. He was awarded the patent, U.S. Patent 371,207, on October 11, 1887.
Alexander Miles was born in Ohio, probably in Pickaway County near the town of Circleville,  in 1838  the son of Michael and Mary (Pompey) Miles. Miles may have resided in the nearby town of Chillicothe, Ohio, but subsequently moved to Waukesha, Wisconsin where he earned a living as a barber. After a move to Winona, Minnesota, he met and married Mrs. Candace J. (Shedd) Dunlap, of La Porte, Indiana a widow with two children who was four years his senior and a native of New York.  Together they had a daughter, born in 1876, named Grace. Shortly after her birth, the family relocated to Duluth, Minnesota
The family moved to Chicago, Illinois by 1889, where Miles was listed in the city directories as a laborer  However, by 1900, he listed himself as an insurance agent.  Around 1903, they moved again, to Seattle, Washington where he worked in a hotel as a barber.



Alexander MilesBorn 1838

Improved Method for Opening and Closing Elevator Doors 
Patent #: 371,207
Inducted 2007
Alexander Miles, who contributed to the elevator industry, was an African-American inventor of the late 19th century who was able to transcend racial barriers in the United States.

Invention Impact


Miles attached a flexible belt to the elevator cage, and when the belt came into contact with drums positioned along the elevator shaft just above and below the floors, it allowed the elevator shaft doors to operate at the appropriate times. The elevator doors themselves were automated through a series of levers and rollers.

Before working on elevator engineering, Miles experimented with the creation of hair products. The influence of his elevator patent is still seen in modern designs, since the automatic opening and closing of elevator and elevator shaft doors is a standard feature.
Inventor Bio
Miles, who was born in Duluth, Minnesota, designed an elevator that was able to open and close its own doors and the elevator shaft doors. When the elevator would arrive or depart from a given floor, the doors would move automatically. Previously, the opening and closing of the doors of both the shaft and the elevator had to be completed manually by either the elevator operator or by passengers, contributing greatly to the hazards of operating an elevator.