Born 1914, Hickory, Virginia. With an educational background from Union Junior College, nurse training from Community Kennedy Memorial Hospital in New Jersey, and physical therapy from the Panzer College of Physical Education and Hygiene, Griffin used her skills to work with wounded soldiers during WWII. It was during her time working with these disabled men that Griffin was inspired to improve the quality of their lives with assistive devices.In the 40s Griffin would design an electronic device that allowed a disabled user to be feed mouthfuls of food by simply biting down on a tube. She would later retool and patent a portable, more practical version of the device in 1951 called the “Portable Receptacle Support.” Though an ingenious device, Griffin’s attempts to market the device to medical companies and even the U.S. government were met with skepticism and disinterest. She took her invention overseas where France quickly purchased her device for use in their military hospitals.
During the 50s, Griffin would partner with Theodore Edison (son of Thomas Edison) to produce additional ideas she had. This included disposable cardboard regurgitation basins used by Belgian hospitals to this day.
In addition to her career as an inventor, Griffin shifted gears to forensic science during the 60s. She worked for multiple police departments, becoming chief document examiner in Portsmouth Virginia by 1972. Though her application for the FBI was turned down in 1976, she quickly bounced back when she became the firm black woman to train and work at Scotland Yard (Britain’s “FBI”). She continued her career in forensic science until her death in 2009. I’ll leave you with this quote from the woman herself:
"A black woman can invent something for the benefit of humankind."