Bessie Blount Griffin: Inventor and Forensic Scientist

Categories: Influential Person


Bessie J. Blount Griffin, born on November 24, 1914, in Hickory, VA (now Chesapeake, VA), stands as a trailblazing figure in American history. Her remarkable journey encompasses groundbreaking inventions, a pioneering role in forensic science, and a steadfast commitment to education. This essay explores the life and contributions of Bessie Blount Griffin, highlighting her indomitable spirit and lasting impact on various fields.

Early Life and Educational Pursuits

Bessie Blount's formative years were marked by an unyielding determination to overcome challenges. Reprimanded at the age of 7 for using her left hand, she responded with a resilient spirit, teaching herself to write with her mouth and toes instead.

Her early defiance foreshadowed a lifetime of breaking barriers and challenging societal norms.

Blount pursued education at the Panzar College of Physical Education and Union Junior College in New Jersey. Before serving as a nurse during World War II, she delved into the study of physical therapy in Chicago. Her diverse educational background laid the foundation for her multifaceted career, encompassing inventions and contributions to forensic science.

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Innovations in Assistive Technology

One of Bessie Blount's most significant contributions came in 1951 when she invented a revolutionary self-feeding device for individuals with amputations. This device, designed to deliver one mouthful of food at a time, was operated by biting down on a tube, allowing users to feed themselves independently. In addition to this groundbreaking invention, Blount also created a disposable emesis basin.

Despite facing rejection from the American Veteran's Administration for her inventions, Bessie Blount did not succumb to discouragement.

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Undeterred, she generously donated her innovations to the French Government, where they were not only accepted but are still in use today. Blount's resilience and commitment to improving the lives of others through assistive technology showcase her pioneering spirit and dedication to making a meaningful impact.

Forensic Science and Continued Legacy

Following her inventive successes, Bessie Blount Griffin embarked on a new chapter in her career by pursuing forensic science. In 1969, she delved into law enforcement and worked in Vineland, New Jersey, as well as Norfolk and Portsmouth, Virginia. As a forensic scientist, Blount utilized her expertise to examine the authenticity of African American slave documents and pre-Civil War papers.

By 1972, Bessie Blount had ascended to the position of Chief Document Examiner in forensic laboratories, showcasing her proficiency in a field traditionally dominated by others. In 1977, she achieved another milestone by becoming the first Black woman to train and work at Scotland Yard, breaking down barriers and challenging the discriminatory practices that denied her entry into the Federal Bureau of Investigations under J. Edgar Hoover.

Even at the age of 83, Bessie Blount Griffin continued to run her own business, leaving an enduring legacy in forensic science. As a consultant in "special investigations" for numerous law enforcement agencies and a member of the South Jersey chapter, she exemplifies a commitment to justice that extends beyond traditional boundaries.

Commitment to Education and Heritage

Bessie Blount Griffin's dedication to education is evident in her continued engagement with students. Despite being asked to donate her inventions to various African American museums, she has consistently refused, asserting that "science has no color." Instead, Blount expresses a desire to purchase land in Hampton Roads, Virginia, creating a space where students can interact with her life's work and engage in meaningful conversations.

Her son reveals that she still passionately speaks to classes, packing up her models and sharing her experiences. Bessie Blount Griffin envisions a place where students can ask questions freely and connect with history without financial barriers. Her refusal to commodify her inventions underscores her belief that knowledge should be accessible to all, emphasizing the importance of inclusivity and equal access to educational resources.


In conclusion, Bessie Blount Griffin's life story is one of resilience, innovation, and a commitment to breaking barriers. From her early defiance as a child to her groundbreaking inventions and pioneering role in forensic science, she remains an inspirational figure. Bessie Blount Griffin's legacy extends beyond her individual achievements, representing a testament to the transformative power of determination, education, and a pioneering spirit.

As society continues to grapple with issues of equity and representation, Bessie Blount Griffin's legacy serves as a beacon, reminding us of the importance of diversity in fields traditionally dominated by specific demographics. Her refusal to limit access to her inventions reinforces the idea that knowledge knows no bounds, and everyone deserves the opportunity to be part of history.

Updated: Nov 30, 2023
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Bessie Blount Griffin: Inventor and Forensic Scientist. (2020, Jun 01). Retrieved from

Bessie Blount Griffin: Inventor and Forensic Scientist essay
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