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Black History Month Spotlight: Scottron

Samuel Raymond Scottron

The Scottron family moved to New York in 1849, Samuel spent most of his late childhood and teenage years there. 

Samuel Scottron graduated from school at only 14 and had many jobs after leaving school. He started off working for his Family’s business in 1863, selling goods to the 3rd Infantry Regiment of the US Coloured Soldiers during the Civil War (Between northern and southern states in America. , 1861-1865).

In 1864, Scottron moved to Florida where he opened up a chain of grocery stores. Scottron appeared to be a mover, we all know one of those, so he moved. Again! Scottron sold his chain of stores and moved to Massachusetts, where he found work as a barber. 

The innovation that changed the hair and beauty industry forever...

Samuel Scottron’s dual adjustable mirror on a standing pole Black history month Samuel Scottron

pictures from: http://www.campbellhousemuseum.org/tag/samuel-scottron/ 

If you have ever been to see a hairdresser, hairstylist or, a barber, you’ll know the one thing they always do when they are finished is: showing you the back and sides of your haircut (or hairstyle).
During his time working as a barber, Scottron noticed that customers had difficulty seeing the back of their heads. Scottron being the smart and savvy entrepreneur that he was, saw the opportunity to solve a real problem. He made a note of this and quickly began working on a solution.

Scottron came up with the dual adjustable mirror. A mirror that could be adjusted and stood on a pole. Barbers and hairstylists could place these behind their customers and adjust them so that customers could see the reflection from that mirror, in the mirror in front of them.
Scottron obtained a patent for the dual adjustable mirrors on a standing pole in March 1968.

Scottron described his mirrors as “mirrors so arranged opposite each other as to give the view of every side at once.”. They allow us to see ourselves from all sides, the way others see us.

Scottron adjustable mirror advertisement

His long list of inventions include:

Samuel Scottron clearly had a lot of talent, including engineering and an eye for money making opportunities.

  • The window cornice- patent obtained in 1883
  • A pole tip- patent obtained in 1886
  • A curtain rod (his most famous invention)- patent obtained in 1892
  • The supporting bracket- patent obtained in 1893

Samuel invented lots other things that ,unfortunately, were not patented. However, he still received royalties for them. For example, leather hand straps that were used for support when standing during trolley car journeys. Similar to the ones we have on some trains and buses today.  

 Political Activism

Similarly to Madam C.J. Walker, and a lot of other great historical figures, Scottron used his position for good. After moving back to New York, Scottron became heavily involved in local politics and the race-related issues that Black people faced in his time.

Here is a timeline of Scottrons political work:

1865- Scottron represented his local community in the National Coloured Convention

1872- He formed the Cuban Anti-Slavery Committee with Reverend Henry H. Garnet

1884- Scottron Founded the Society of Sons of New York. 

Scottron also spent over half of his life writing on race-related issues effecting Black people. His work was published in a number of magazines and newspapers, before and after his death.

Scottron is one of those Black historical figures that doesn’t get talked about as much as he should. He created so many of the everyday items we use today. He also did a lot for race relations.

Do you know any other interesting facts about Scottron and his work? 


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