April 14, 2024

Black Entrepreneur History

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Lyda D. Newman – African American Hairdresser & Hairbrush Inventor

Once upon a time in Black Entrepreneur History lived an African American woman named Lyda D. Newman who was not only a hairdresser but also the inventor of the improved hairbrush, patented when she was only a teenager.

Born in Ohio in 1885, there isn’t too much known about Lyda D. Newman’s life.

In 1920, she was 35 years old and living in her own dwelling with no children or husband. She was completely self sufficient as a self employed entrepreneur, earning her money as a hairdresser in Manhattan, New York. [1]. She lived at 210 W. 63d St. which was in the 51st Election District [2]

She worked all her life in New York, and it was also in New York where she died. There aren’t many details on the time and date of her death. She was however one of the youngest, if not the youngest African American at that time to obtain a patent. She was only 14 years old.

Lyda Newman’s Hairbrush Invention

On July 11, 1898, Lyda D. Newman filed the application for the brush, and on November 15, 1898, her hair brush was patented US Patent #614335.

Lyda Newman’s hairbrush was far improved with a durable construction, allowing for easy cleaning of the brush whenever necessary. Newman’s hair brush consisted of a back and handle along with a bristle holder which carried the bristles. The brush can be taken apart easily by removing a bolt outward allowing for the bristle-holder to be removed to allow for cleaning of the back and holder.

Her brush also allowed for impurities from the scalp or hair to pass through the openings into the back of the brush. The removal of the bristle holder allows for easy cleaning and blow out.

Great Eccentric and Afrocentric Home Decor

Lyda D. Newman’s Women’s Suffrage Center

Inventor and hairdresser Lyda D. Newman showed herself as a suffragist, as part of the Women’s Suffrage Party, fighting for the rights of Black people to vote, particularly women because Black women had been banned from voting. She had shown herself as doing “excellent work for suffrage among her own people”[3], and she was placed in charge of the Suffrage Center for Negroes in 1915 which opened their doors at 207 West 63rd Street.

Death of Lyda D. Newman

As far as the death of Lyda D. Newman, no one knows the particulars, however, she did pass away in Manhattan, New York on August 29, 1915.


  1. Year: 1920; Census Place: Manhattan Assembly District 5, New York, New York; Roll: T625_1194; Page: 21B; Enumeration District: 461
  2. New York City Municipal Archive; New York, New York, USA; 1924 NYC Voter List
  3. The New York Times (New York, New York) 29 Aug 1915, Sun Page 6