Matzeliger, Jan Earnst

Matzeliger, Jan Earnst

(1852–89) inventor; born in Dutch Guiana. Child of a black mother and white father, he emigrated to the U.S.A. about 1872. Although uneducated, he invented a shoe-making machine (1891) and shoe-nailing machine (1896), which revolutionized the shoe industry. His inventions formed the basis of the United Shoe Machinery Corp. He died of tuberculosis at age 37.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.