This Day In History: July 14th
Due to modern-day comforts, one often associates the freezer and refrigerator as a single appliance but prior to the 1890s, the concept was unheard of. This was until African-American inventor, John Stanard, received patent US455891A for improvements to the refrigerator on July 14, 1891.
Stanard was born on June 15, 1868, in Newark, New Jersey, but much of his early life has gone unknown. Even the spelling of his last name has been brought into question, with many sources using the spelling “Standard” rather than “Stanard” which appears on both of his patent applications. Despite growing up in the wake of the Civil War and facing limited opportunities for advancement, he took an interest in science and research.
His scientific pursuits were first recognized with his 1889 patent pertaining to oil stoves. He received patent US413689A for his design improvements to the oil stove. Stanard’s new design for the stove saved space and was intended for small areas such as buffet cars on trains.
In 1891, he followed up his first patent and continued making enhancements to kitchen appliances. He received a patent to improve the time period’s current model of refrigerators. Although he did not invent the refrigerator, his patent included a new design and arrangement of components. His version featured a manually filled ice chamber for chilling as well as air ducts to help the cold air circulate from the ice chamber to the main refrigerator.
With the new design, the chamber with the ice was in the bottom left corner and the main refrigerator section was to the right. It was done to allow air to constantly circulate through the chambers and keep drinking water or other beverages chilled. Stanard’s improvements to the refrigerator provided a long-lasting concept that can still be seen in contemporary times.
The design modifications to both the oil stove and refrigerator allowed for more user convenience and a solid foundation for more innovations to be made. Given the societal norms and conditions of Stanard’s time, he was a trailblazer for receiving the two patents. John Stanard died in 1900, just under a decade after revolutionizing the home appliance industry.