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Notable People of Chelsea: Lewis Latimer


Lewis Latimer was an African American inventor and draftsman. He wrote a very early book on electric lighting. His development in the making of carbon filaments laid the groundwork for the light bulb.


Lewis Latimer was born in Chelsea and the youngest child of George and Rebecca Latimer. The couple escaped slavery in Virginia before settling in Chelsea. George's fight for freedom and arrest by local authorities here in Massachusetts resulted in the passage the 1843 Liberty Act, dubbed the "Latimer Law," which prevented Massachusetts officials from assisting in the detention of suspected fugitive enslaved people.


The Lewis Latimer House in Queens, New York is a museum inside the home where the inventor lived from 1903 until his death in 1928.


In Chelsea, the Lewis Latimer Society holds occasional events and maintains a number of artifacts at the Chelsea Public Library.


In 2021 and 2022, with a Chelsea Heritage Celebrations Grant provided by the Chelsea Cultural Council, Jukebox Event installed decorative lighting on Division Street and created a series of multi-lingual animated videos about this extraordinary man.


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