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Issued by:
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, American, founded 1824  Search this
Owned by:
James A. Parsons Jr., American, 1900 - 1989  Search this
ink on paper
H x W: 10 7/8 × 8 1/2 in. (27.6 × 21.6 cm)
Place used:
Troy, Rensselaer County, New York, United States, North and Central America
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 brown, hardcover yearbook from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute from 1922 owned by James A. Parsons, Jr. Embossed in gold on the front cover is: [The / Transit] at the top left, the seal of RPI in the middle, and [MCMXXII] at the bottom right. Parsons is featured in the yearbook with a portrait and short biography, which notes he is an electrical engineering student and a member of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, who went by the nicknames "Jim," and "Jaxx."
African American  Search this
Education  Search this
Engineering  Search this
Science  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
Proper usage is the responsibility of the user.
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National Museum of African American History and Culture Collection
Documents and Published Materials (tbd)
Data Source:
National Museum of African American History and Culture