What do you think might happen to traffic on busy streets if the traffic signals didn't work? Garrett Augustus Morgan saw an accident involving a horse-drawn carriage and an automobile at a highway intersection in the early 1920s. He decided something needed to be done to improve safety. Morgan invented a traffic signal device to control traffic at busy intersections. His device helped save many lives. He invented other things, too.
Garrett A. Morgan was born on March 4, 1877, in Paris, Kentucky. His parents were former slaves. He was the seventh of eleven children. He was fortunate enough to attend school until he was about fourteen. At that time he quit school. He went to Cincinnati, Ohio, to search for work. He found a job as a handyman for a wealthy landowner there. He used some of his earnings to hire his own tutor so he could finish his education while he was in Cincinnati.
Garrett moved to Cleveland, Ohio, when he was eighteen. He went to work making clothing and repairing sewing machines. News of his skills at repairing machinery spread. In 1907, he opened his own sewing machine repair shop. Two years later, he added a tailor shop to the business. The tailor shop made all kinds of clothes. The clothes were made on machines that Garrett Morgan engineered.