Featured Document Display: National Inventor’s Day: Marjorie S. Joyner

Thursday, February 6, 2020 - Friday, April 17, 2020
East Rotunda Gallery

Among the first African American women to receive a patent, inventor Marjorie Stewart Joyner had an influencial career as a teacher and activist.

Born in 1896 in Virginia, Marjorie Stewart moved to Chicago in 1912. Four years later, she was the first African American to graduate from the A. B. Moler Beauty School. Joyner met hair care mogul Madame C. J. Walker, proprietor of the Walker Manufacturing Company, which employed thousands of black women and was the largest African American–owned company in the United States in 1917. While teaching for Walker Beauty Schools, Joyner patented the permanent wave machine. 

Joyner taught for more than 50 years and was devoted to her students. She founded the Alpha Chi Omega Sorority and Fraternity for beauty culture students in 1945 and, a year later, the United Beauty School Owners and Teachers Association. She later helped draft the first cosmetology laws for the State of Illinois and was a founding member of the National Council of Negro Women.

East Rotunda Gallery, February 6 through March 18, 2020.

Submitted drawings for permanent wave machine, 1928, Sheet 3 of 3
Submitted Drawings for Permanent Wave Machine, 1928, Sheet 3 of 3
National Archives at Kansas City, Records of the Patent and Trademark Office

Learn more at: Marjorie S. Joyner: More than an Inventor – Pieces of History

February is also Black History Month. Find more resources related to African American History at Archives.gov.