Henry T. Sampson was born on April 22, 1934, in Jackson, Mississippi. He graduated from Lanier High School in Jackson in 1951. Sampson received a B.S. from Purdue University in 1956, an M.S. from UCLA (1961), an M.S. in nuclear engineering from the University of Illinois Urbana, and a Ph.D. in nuclear physics also from the University of Illinois (1967).
Dr. Sampson was employed as a research chemical engineer at the U.S. Naval Weapons Center at China Lake, California. Later, he worked at the Aerospace Corporation in El Segundo, California.
Dr. Sampson was the co-inventor of the gamma electric cell, which converts gamma radiation into electricity without going through a heat cycle. He also received patents for a binder system for propellants and explosives (1964), a case bonding system for cast composite propellants (1965), and a process for case bonding cast composite propellants (1973). He has also written papers on rocket propulsion, direct conversion of nuclear energy to electricity, and computer simulation of electrical systems.
Henry Sampson is also well known as a writer and film historian. His book Blacks in Black and White: A Sourcebook on Black Films traces the history of the Black film industry from its beginnings in approximately 1910. Throughout his career, Dr. Sampson has received numerous awards and honors.