Frederick McKinley Jones

Frederick McKinley JonesJones was a self-taught, African American engineer who pioneered designs for mobile refrigeration. A former race car driver and mechanic, Jones created the first mechanical refrigeration system for trucks in 1935. Some of Jones' other inventions were a portable x-ray machine, an air conditioning unit for military field hospitals, and a refrigerator for military field kitchens. A total of 61 patents were issued in Jones' name.


  • Man With a Million Ideas: Fred Jones, Genius/Inventor, by Virginia Ott and Gloria Swanson.
    Minneapolis, Minn.: Lerner Publications, c1977.
    MHS call number: T40.J59 O87.


  • Frederick McKinley Jones Papers.
    This archival collection (1910-1960s) consists of patent files, correspondence, newspaper and magazine clippings, and photographs related to the work of Jones, a self-taught, African American engineer whose pioneering designs for mobile refrigeration units led to the formation of the Thermo-King Corporation (Minneapolis) in 1935 and revolutionized the field of transport refrigeration for trucks, railcars, and ships.
    MHS call number: See the green Manuscripts Alpha Notebooks — filed under Jones, Frederick McKinley — for a detailed list and the locator number (there is 1 box).
  • Minnesota Black History Project, Oral History Interviews.
    Thirty-two interviews (1970-1975) with Black men and women, who discuss their family backgrounds, social and cultural activities, political organizations and involvement, and various Black communities in Minnesota.
    MHS call number: OH 43; see the blue Oral History Notebooks for interview description sheets.
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