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Bessie Griffin #BHMwithBWiS


Bessie Virginia Blount (aka Bessie Blount Griffin)


November 1914 - December 2009




Diggs Chapel Elementary School

Self -taught to the stage equivalent to GED

Nurses training programme at Community Kennedy Memorial Hospital, Newark (New Jersey)

Graduated from a nursing degree at Union Junior College and Panzer College of Physical Education and Hygiene

Scientific career

During World War II, Griffin volunteered with the Gray Ladies, working in health care facilities. During this time, Griffin was helping a number of soldiers who had lost limbs. This gave her the ident to create an electronic device that could dispense food without the need for hands. The patient needed to bite on this mouthpiece and the next morsel of food would be sent to the mouthpiece.

Bessie Blount Griffin (Photo:

Later, Griffin invented another assistive machine that incorporated a neck brace to support food containers i.e. cups, bowls, plates. Despite the fact that Griffin's inventions could help thousands of people, she received little support from the American Veteran's Administration (AVA). Instead, the French government supported her idea.

During her career, Griffin also spent time in Newark, New Jersey practicing therapy and teaching at Bronx Hospital, New York.

Giffin continued to create inventions to better people's lives. She created the 'emesis' basin that is still used in some variation in Belgium (the AVA hospital showed no interest in this design either).

1n 1969, Griffin changed tact and conducted forensic science research for police departments across America. She came to Scotland Yard, England for further training (she was the first African-American woman to do so). Here she learnt that handwriting reflects a person's state of mind. Griffin used this forensic training to exam pre-civil war documents and "slave" papers.


The first African-American woman to appear on "The Big Idea". On the show, Griffin showcased her ideas.

Useful links

Bessie Blount (Lemelson-MIT)

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