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Photograph by:
Unidentified  Search this
Subject of:
James A. Parsons Jr., American, 1900 - 1989  Search this
silver and photographic gelatin on photographic paper
H x W: 4 3/4 × 6 9/16 in. (12.1 × 16.7 cm)
gelatin silver prints
Place captured:
Dayton, Montgomery County, Ohio, United States, North and Central America
ca. 1915
James A. Parsons Jr. was a scientist, inventor, and university professor, whose research with rust resistant metals and iron alloys is credited with leading to the development of stainless steel. He developed Durimet 20, a corrosion-resistant stainless steel alloy also known as Alloy 20, which is still widely used today in a diverse range of industries including petrochemical, textile, nuclear, aerospace, automotive, pharmaceutical, textile and chemical and food processing.
Born in 1900, Parsons grew up in Dayton, OH, where his father worked as a butler for Pierce Schenk, the founder of metal manufacturer Duriron Co. Schenk covered Parsons’ tuition at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in exchange for Parsons’ work over summer breaks. Parsons graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in 1922 with a degree in Electrical Engineering and returned to working at Duriron Co., where he eventually established what was likely the first all-Black industrial research laboratory. Over the course of his career, Parsons received eight patents, won the Harmon Medal in 1928 for his scientific achievements, and had a distinguished teaching career at Tennessee Agriculture and Industrial State College (now Tennessee State University) and Ohio State University.
A black-and-white photograph of the Parsons family home in Dayton, Ohio. The house is two stories with an attic and a fully covered porch. There is an uphill yard in front of the house and foliage surrounds the porch. James A. Parsons, Jr. sits on the steps to the porch, at left and a younger child in white dress stands to the right. Another woman stands near the side of the house, around the corner to the right.
African American  Search this
Engineering  Search this
Families  Search this
Photography  Search this
Credit Line:
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of Grant Shipp
Object number:
Restrictions & Rights:
Public domain
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National Museum of African American History and Culture Collection
Photographs and Still Images
Data Source:
National Museum of African American History and Culture