Marjorie Stewart Joyner (October 24, 1896 – December 7, 1994) was born in 1896, in Monterey, Virginia. She was the granddaughter of a slave owner and a slave. In 1912, she moved to Chicago and began studying cosmetology. She graduated A.B. Molar Beauty School in Chicago in 1916, the first African American to achieve this. There she met Madam C.J. Walker, an African American beauty entrepreneur, and the owner of a cosmetic empire. Always an advocate of beauty for women, Joyner went to work for her and oversaw 200 of Madame Walker's beauty schools as the national advisor.
Read more about Marjorie Joyner and her invention, free from blackinventor.com. In 1926, she started looking for an easier way for African American women to straighten their hair. She took her inspiration from a pot roast cooking with rods inserted to speed the process. Joyner experimented initially with pot roast rods and soon invented a Permanent Wave machine that could be used to curl or straighten hair by wrapping it on rods above the person's head and then cooking them to set the hair. This method also allowed hairstyles to last several days, whereas previously they became unkempt at the end of one. She patented it in 1928, (U.S. pat. #1,693,515) becoming the first African American woman to receive a patent.
Joyner's machine was popular in salons with both African American and white women. The patent was credited to Madame Walker's company and she received almost no money for it. In 1945, she cofounded the United Beauty School Owners and Teachers Association. In 1973, at the age of 77, she was awarded a bachelor's degree in psychology from Bethune-Cookman College in Daytona Beach, Florida.
Currently, her papers reside in the Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection of Afro-American History and Literature at the Chicago Public Library.