This is the season to give thanks ... to these incredible Black women inventors who created everyday items that make our lives so much easier. Think of them when you're sitting in your warm breakfast nook, knocking the wrinkles out of your favorite Black Friday fashion deals, and working off those Thanksgiving calories with a jump rope workout.

Alice Parker: Central Heating Furnace

We give thanks that her creation helps burn off all those holiday calories.

A gas furnace. Image: courtesy of Home Depot.

When things got too cold in her New Jersey home in the early 1900s, Alice H. Parker created a central heating furnace. Parker's furnace was fueled by natural gas, unlike older designs that used coal or wood, which would contribute greatly to the development of today's heating systems. She filed her patent in 1919, braving racial tension and civil unrest. We give thanks that her design is keeping it toasty.

Sarah Boone: Ironing Board

We give thanks that her contraption keeps clothes pressed and ready.
Brabantia Ironing Board, $52, Image: courtesy of West Elm.

This savvy African American dressmaker figured out how to make the ironing process easier. In 1892, Sarah Boone patented the ironing board, a sturdy plank with padding and one narrow end to make pressing sleeves a breeze, as well as collapsable legs.

Madame C.J. Walker: Black Hair Care Products

We give thanks that her products keep hair soft, sheened and styled.
Madam by Madam CJ Walker Wonderful Hair & Scalp Balm-to-Oil, $10, Image: courtesy of Walmart.

Philanthropist and entrepreneur Madam C.J. Walker had suffered from hair loss and a scalp condition, which led her to create her line of African American hair care products in 1905 and became one of America’s first self-made millionaires. Her line has evolved into MADAM by Madame C.J. Walker, which is available nationwide.

Lyda D. Newman: A Better Hair Brush

We give thanks that her design can tame a mane.
A contemporary brush based on Newman's design. Image: courtesy of Ulta.

Inventor and activist Lyda D. Newman patented a durable hair brush with evenly separated bristles and slots that kept dirt and hair neatly contained. It even had a detachable compartment for easy cleaning. This brush, created in 1898, had artificial bristles that led to the ones used in contemporary brushes. 

Judy Woodford Reed: Dough Kneader and Roller

We give thanks that her design led to even tastier sweet potato pies all season long.
Judy Reed's original invention led the way for this modern-day dough kneader and mixer. Image: courtesy of Amazon.

Considered the first African American woman to receive a U.S. patent (no. 305,474), Judy Woodford Reed registered her dough kneader and roller on September 23, 1884. It improved the design to mix ingredients more evenly while being kept covered and protected.

Marie Van Brittan Brown: Home Security Surveillance System

We give thanks that her invention shows who’s arriving for holiday dinner before the drama starts.
A home security surveillance system. Image: courtesy of Best Buy.

Marie Van Brittan Brown wanted to feel safer when she was home alone in Queens in the 1960s. This nurse devised a home security system that allowed her to see who was at the front door before she opened it. It consisted of video surveillance on any TV and a two-way intercom system. It also had an emergency panic button that would call security, if needed.

Tahira Reid Smith’s Automated Double Dutch Machine

We give thanks that her creation helps burn off all those holiday calories.

Tahira Reid Smith, an associate professor at Purdue University, is the mastermind behind the automatic double dutch machine. It uses electric motors to turn the ropes and was patented in 2013. Its infrared beam monitors a jumper’s rhythm and speed.