Travel to Collections Awardees (2020)
Sarah Barnes (2020), Georgia Institute of Technology
Barnes’ research project will trace shifting sleep technologies and innovations in sport and society through several interconnected lines of inquiry. Barnes is interested in understanding how changing technologies and innovations connected to beds, sleep, and athletic training helped to establish the groundwork for today’s cultural preoccupation with athlete sleep and how we might collectively respond to and address issues related to fatigue and exhaustion in sport and society.
Hayley Brazier (2020), University of Oregon
Braziers’s research examines the historical development of three seafloor industries in the Northeast Pacific coastline from the 1890s to modern day—offshore oil drilling, submarine telecommunication cables, and undersea scientific laboratories—to demonstrate their fundamental connection to onshore infrastructure. The project seeks to answer: what historical processes led to the seafloor becoming a host to the globe’s most vital technologies, and to what degree have seabed technologies depended on the co-development of onshore infrastructure, and vice versa?
Vivien Hamilton (2020), Harvey Mudd College
Hamilton’s research compares what was known about uterine physiology and fetal development with specific elements of incubator design and examines ways in which different incubator models anticipated the care and feeding of incubator babies. This research will bring both the inventors of these machines and the mothers that these machines replaced into the foreground.
Sarah Pickman (2020), Yale University
Pickman’s research examines the history of exploration in extreme environments in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries with a focus on American and British explorers, scientists, outdoorsmen, and gear manufacturers. Pickman aims to uncover how a shared body of material culture—a “canon” of gear for travel in challenging places—was developed, and how this canonical gear contributed to the modern understanding of the “extreme environment” and what it means to prepare to go to such a place. The research will also examine the role that innovative products from American manufacturers played in expeditions during this time period.
Benjamin Siegel (2020), Boston University
Siegel’s research examines the processes of pharmaceutical innovation and invention for a forthcoming book project, Markets of Pain: Transnational History of the United States Opioid Crisis. In examining the opioid crisis, Siegel looks at the invention of the hypodermic needle and the development of new narcotic painkillers in the United States during the twentieth century.
Award recipients' affiliations at the time of their residence at the Lemelson Center are listed below.
Francesca Ammon (2013), University of Pennsylvania
Francesca Ammon examined the Bobcat Company Records, Smithsonian Institution Library Trade Literature, and other construction-related collections for her research on “Culture of Clearance: Waging War on the Landscape in Postwar America.” The decades following World War II are well known as an era of rapid American growth and construction; they were equally significant for the celebration and implementation of large-scale destruction. In “Culture of Clearance,” Ammon focuses on tractors, scrapers, and bulldozers as earthmoving technology.
Sarah A. Bell (2017), Michigan Technological University
From Speak & Spell to Siri: A Media History of Voice Synthesis
Bell’s research focuses on the story of American innovation in synthetic speech technology. She consulted both the documents of engineers and the popular discourse that helped domesticate these technologies—especially consumer advertising—for her forthcoming book, From Speak & Spell to Siri: A Media History of Speech Synthesis.
Regina Blaszczyk (2013), University of Leeds
Regina Blaszczyk examined the history of invention and innovation in the synthetic fiber industry, asking broad questions about discovery, novelty, innovation, and the social meaning of materials. Blaszczyk used the Maid of Cotton of Records.
Alejandra Bronfman (2012), University of British Columbia
Alejandra Bronfman used the George Clark Collection of Radioana and the Western Union Telegraph Company Records for her forthcoming book project, Talking Machines: Assembled Media and Publics in the Caribbean. Bronfman examines the history of the implementation of telecommunications technologies in the Caribbean and the unwritten histories of radio and related sonic technologies.
Simon Bronner (2018), Penn State University
Technology and Material Culture of Strength Athletics
Bronner’s research explores the culture of strength athletics in a larger book project interpreting a cultural history of strength in the United States. Bronner examines and contextualizes the campaigns of figures from the nineteenth century into the twentieth century such as George Barker Windship, Bernarr MacFadden, Lionel Strongfort, Robert Hoffman, and Charles Atlas who developed exercise equipment.
Tad Brown (2019), University of Queensland
Brown’s project examines the role of intellectual property in the development of the peanut industry in the first half of the 20th century. The analysis focuses on Tom’s Peanut Company based in Columbus, Georgia and, as such, combines biographical research on Tom Huston, founder and serial inventor, with the relationship of his company to the emerging field of peanut science. Here, legal claims serve as a way to investigate how innovations related to the breeding and farming of peanuts interact with the processing and marketing of the crop. By examining how the intellectual property claims of food processors have influenced the production of peanuts across the supply chain, and not just through the enclosure of germplasm by private seed firms, this project contributes to a body of historical work on plant breeding, product marketing, and the nature of innovation.
Wendy Chun (2005), Brown University
Wendy Chun used a variety of computer-related archival collections for research on her book Programmed Visions: Software, DNA, Race. In her book, Chun argues that race and software precipitate both a frenzy of visual literacy and a decline in visual knowledge.
Laura Claridge (2007), independent writer
Laura Claridge examined the Earl Tupper Papers for a forthcoming book on inventor Earl Tupper.
Gregory Clinton (2016), Stony Brook University
The Architecture of Safety: Survival Shelters and Cleanrooms in an Era of Total Risk
Clinton’s research focuses on two architectural patterns: domestic survival shelters and industrial cleanrooms. Both of these spaces can be thought of as a technological object, and in the case of the cleanroom at least, as a distinct invention with a discernable moment of origin. Both of these spaces, moreover, participates in what Ulrich Beck and Anthony Giddens have both called “risk society,” which is a way of diagnosing contemporary economic and social systems according to the mechanisms of risk, threat, probabilities, and insurance. The goal of his project is to outline a genealogy of contemporary risk society through an analysis of architectures that are designed as “safe space.” Furthermore, by analyzing these inventions and architectural innovations, Clinton hopes to shed light on the interaction between what is invented and the social or cultural structures that enable invention. These structures help show not only that inventions are products of a time and place, but also that they can give that milieu its particular durable form. Clinton examined Smithsonian Libraries Trade Literature related to clean room technology and exhibit records for Science in American Life.
Erin Cully (2019), City University of New York Graduate Center
Cully’s research focuses on the consolidation of the banking sector in the period from 1950 to 2000. The 2008 financial crisis illuminated the power of finance over the modern world. How did the US go from being a nation with over 13,000 small banks to one where that number has been halved, with the top five biggest banks managing 70% of the assets? Cully considers the specific changes, both technological and political, that transformed a nation where banking was a modest, community affair into one in which a handful of giant financial conglomerates dominate the sector. Only by delving into the political economy of the period, in which inventors and financial firms alike labored to bolster efficiency and profitability, can we fully understand the effects of these large institutions on society.
Mark Dallas (2018), Union College
Semiconductors, Business Organization & Technological Innovation in a Fragmented World
Dallas’s research examines the processes of fragmentation and modularization in the semiconductor industry, using the Integrated Circuits Engineering (ICE) Collection. The project explores a variety of interrelated questions, including: which firms become innovation leaders and laggards over time (from 1971 to 2007), which innovations become industry standards ushering in the next gale of ‘creative destruction,’ which firms create value and which ones capture value along the value chain, and within which countries does value creation and capture occur. The research will examine these issues at three levels of analysis: firm, sub-industry (or module), and to a lesser extent country.
Carlotta Daro (2010), McGill University
Carlotta Daro examined the Western Union Telegraph Records, the Anglo American Telegraph Company Records, and the George H. Clark Collection of Radioana for her work “Networked Cities: The Impact of Telecommunications Technologies on Urban Theories, 1880–1939.” Daro examined the infrastructures of telecommunications such as the electricity pole, the cable, the antenna, and the transmission tower as universal icons that crisscross the earth’s surface. These physical markers helped structure fundamental changes in everyday life: first, by creating networks for instant communication on a global scale, thereby collapsing perceptions of distance and speed; and second, as equipment around which cities would be rebuilt, thus giving rise to new ways of imagining and conditioning space in the metropolis.
Jaipreet Virdi-Dhesi (2015), Ryerson University
Jaipreet Virdi-Dhesi examined the Harriett Kopp Papers, the Warshaw Collection of Business American, Smithsonian Institution Libraries Trade Literature and artifacts related to deafness and hearing loss for her forthcoming book, A History of Deafness Cures, 1650-1930. Virdi-Dhesi's book examines medical therapeutics and technological “cures” to treat hearing loss and addresses the roles of deaf users in the construction, design, and functionality of technological “cures” for advertising a rhetoric of “hope.”
Donna J. Drucker (2017), Technische Universität Darmstadt
Materializing Gender through Contraceptive Technology in the United States
Drucker’s research project considers the intersection of gender, sexuality, and technology in the use of woman-controlled barrier methods (diaphragms and cervical caps) along with spermicides as contraceptive technologies before and after FDA approval of the birth control pill in the United States. Drucker seeks to understand how the materials and manufacturing processes used for diaphragms and cervical caps have changed over time and to link knowledge of doctors’ and patients’ perspectives on (and use of) contraceptive technology with in-depth knowledge of device and materials manufacturers. The research question that guides her project is: how did changes in the availability, materiality, and use of non-hormonal birth control affect sexual behavior, perceptions of gender, and patterns of reproduction for twentieth-century American women? Drucker’s research includes examination of the Warshaw Collection of Business Americana, the Syntex Pharmaceutical Advertising Collection, and material culture in the Division of Science and Medicine.
Carrie Eisert (2009), Princeton University
Carrie Eisert from Princeton University examined the Wagner Collection in the Division of Medicine and Science and the Syntex Collection in the Archives Center for her research on the psychological conceptions of oral contraceptive patients in the United States in the 1960s. Eisert focused on David Wagner’s process of conceptualizing, designing, and patenting his design for the Dialpak, the first pill package designed specifically to help patients remember to take their pills correctly. Additionally, Eisert delved into how conceptions of the patient presented in the psychiatry research relate to the way patients were presented in Dialpak rhetoric and advertising.
Cara Kiernan Fallon (2018), Harvard University
Extending the End: A Cultural History of Aging in the United States Since 1870
This research examines shifting societal views about aging. Through a series of four case studies on common conditions of old age—mobility impairments, wrinkles, falls, and cognition—Fallon's research analyzes the transformation of later life from a period of inevitable decline into a time of continued health and function. Together, these case studies show how the American way of life has reoriented around a quest for health envisioned in resisting aging, and the new technologies, as well as the new dilemmas, produced by this orientation.
Jane Farrell-Beck (2002), Iowa State University
Author of the book Uplift: the Bra in America, Jane Farrell-Beck continued her research on the manufacturer’s role in the marketing of brassieres and girdles to adolescent girls. She used primarily the Maidenform Collection, Seventeen, and Cover Girl Collections.
Marti Frank (2006), Harvard University
Marti Frank explored the adoption of one of the century’s most important technologies by one of its most important industries: the steam engine and New England textile mills. Frank made use of the trade literature collection in the National Museum of American History library, the Archives Center, and the Division of Work & Industry.
Brian Frehner (2013), Oklahoma State University
Brian Frehner used the Serge Scherbatskoy Papers for research on the history of geophysical oil exploration, a practice that originated primarily in Oklahoma and Texas from 1920 to 1960. Scherbatskoy was a pivotal inventor and practioner in the field of exploration geophysics as it emerged and evolved throughout the 20th century. His background and contributions made him a unique and important figure in the oil industry at the time. Frehner’s work will contribute to a museum exhibit being built in collaboration with the Society of Exploration Geophysicists, as well as an article.
Dana Freiburger (2000), University of Wisconsin, Madison
Exploring the early tracking devices used for wildlife research and their related technologies, Dana Freiburger examined the George H. Clark “Radioana” Collection for initial work done in radio locating. Specifically, he sought details related to the invention of the first transistor radios since early practical wildlife radio equipment used this device.
Dana Freiburger (2013), University of Wisconsin, Madison
Dana Freiburger explored “The Rise and Fall of the Chicken Breast Meter,” a tool developed in the late 1940s by American agriculturalists to determine the breast angle of meat-type chickens. Freiburger focused on collection materials held in the Division of Work & Industry related to John E. Weidlich, an accomplished chicken breeder. He examined instruments developed by Weidlich to better understand and explain how and why American chicken producers turned to science in pursuit of a better bird. The project looks at food-related scientific instrumentation as well as the chicken breast meter’s failure.
Cheryl Ganz (2000), University of Illinois, Chicago
Cheryl Ganz explored the role of inventions at the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair for her dissertation. She traced the relationship of inventions to the fair organizers’ and exhibitors’ idea of progress from the first stages of the development of an exhibit all the way to its installation by corporate sponsors. She examined the S.C. Gilfillan papers and Warshaw Collection located at the Archives Center, and other archival and library materials at the National Air and Space Museum and the Archives of American Art.
Martha Gardner (2014), Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
Martha Gardner examined the Cover Girl Make-Up Advertising Oral History and Documentation Project and the Sterling Drug, Inc. Records for a forthcoming book proposal on "Germicidal Gold Rush": The Use of Hexachlorophene in Hospital and Home Products. Through these collections, Gardener analyzed hexachlorophene, a synthesized chemical compound and germicide to better understand its original synthesis; its marketing and use in both hospital and consumer products; perceptions of both its effectiveness and its risks; and the regulatory, medical, and consumer environments in which it was couched.
Evan Glasson (2008), The New School
Evan Glasson examined the Western Union Telegraph Company Records in order to analyze telegrams from the perspective of poetry. Glasson analyzed the messages’ diction, syntax, punctuation, brevity, urgency, whimsicality, and often deeply-felt emotional content. Glasson found evidence to support his hypothesis that the telegraph allowed people to send messages that, like the best poems, needed to communicate, and the economical language that was born out of the invention presents a dichotomy of clarity and mystery essential to poetry.
Graeme Gooday (2006), Leeds University
Graeme Gooday examined the William J. Hammer Collection to compare and contrast one individual’s creative experience of electrification in the United States, France, Germany, and Britain from 1880 to 1900. This research will contribute to his monograph Domesticating Electricity: Risk, Gender and Expertise in Late Nineteenth Century Culture.
Sarah Overbaugh Hallenbeck (2018), University of North Carolina, Wilmington
Gender and American Rhetorics of Innovation
Hallenbeck examines how rhetorics of innovation contribute to the gendering of technology, invention, and tech-related professions. As a rhetorician, she investigates not only how innovation circumscribes women’s access to particular lines of work, but also how definitions of the term enable the formation of gendered hierarchies within these lines of work and give shape to the popular narratives that emerge about women’s contributions to particular professional fields. Hallenbeck explores holdings related to mid-twentieth century women inventors: Marion Donovan and Charlotte Cramer Sachs, Patsy Sherman and Stephanie Kwolek.
Aimi Hamraie (2012), Emory University
Aimie Hamraie used a variety of collections related to universal design (Ronald Mace Collection, Milton K.Wirtz, D.D.S., Artificial Eye Collection, Safko International, Inc., Records, Accessible Snowboard Collection, and Harriett Green Kopp Papers) for her project “What Can Universal Design Know? Scientific Research About Bodies in Disability-Accessible Design, 1968-Present.” Hamraie looked at the role of scientific knowledge production in accessible design and in the invention of assistive technologies through the movement Universal Design (UD).
David Hanlon (2010), St. Louis Community College
David Hanlon studied components of the Draper Family Collection in the Archives Center and early photographic examples in the Photographic History Collection for his work “Recording Light on Paper.” He concentrated upon the writings and images created by John William Draper (1811–1882), with special attention given to his use of light-sensitive material within his experiments.
David Hochfelder (2014), University at Albany, SUNY
Hochfelder examined the Atlantic telegraph cable as a central part of the history of globalization, from 1866 to the early 20th century. Consulting the Anglo-American Telegraph Company Records, the Western Union Telegraph Company Records, and the Thomas A. Edison Papers, Hochfelder argues that the history of the Atlantic telegraph cable shows that globalization was far from seamless and inevitable, that is was in fact a contingent and chaotic process. Also, Hochfelder examined customers who used the Atlantic telegraph cable to coordinate international business activities.
Laurie Kahn-Leavitt (1999), independent filmmaker
Why plastic? Laurie Kahn-Leavitt asked this question and more when she researched the Leo Baekeland and Earl Tupper Papers, the Celluloid Corporation Records, the J. Harry DuBois Collection of the History of Plastics, the Plastics Pioneer Association interviews, and the Warshaw Collection for a one-hour documentary film Plastics: A Cultural History. Kahn-Leavitt’s documentary evolved into Tupperware and was broadcast on PBS as part of the American Experience in 2004. Her film won a Peabody Award.
Ivan Katchanovski (2007), University of Toronto
Ivan Katchanovski examined the Computer Oral History Collection for a book-length project on the “Puzzle in the Invention and Patenting of the Electronic Computer in the United States.”
Shaul Katzir (2004), Hebrew University of Jerusalem
The notebooks in the Walter G. Cady papers were the subject of Shaul Katzir’s research. Cady’s notebooks contain information relating to the early application of piezoelectricity and his invention of the piezoelectric resonator. Katzir looked at the shift of piezoelectricity from pure to applied science.
Pagan Kennedy (2002), author and freelance journalist
Pagan Kennedy made use of the extensive computer history archives to research a general nonfiction book titled The Computer Wore Pearls. Using the Grace Murray Hopper papers, Kennedy hoped to show how the female mind helped shape the most important technological leap of the 20th century.
Ella Klik (2016), New York University
A History of Erasable Media
Klik explores and excavates the multiplicity of erasing methods in the history of media technologies, from early sound recording to paperwork, in order to argue that erasure is nothing less than essential to understanding technologies and processes of archival knowledge production, retention, preservation, and generativity. Klik poses the following questions: What is erasure? How has it been configured, executed and imagined through a variety of technologies in different historical contexts and environments? For this purpose, she examined the Warshaw Collection of Business Americana (Business and Phonographs) and Smithsonian Libraries Trade Literature.
Scott Kushner (2019), University of Rhode Island
Kushner’s book project, The Ticketization of Culture, traces the material artifacts and technological practices of ticketing from Greek antiquity to the computer age in order to understand how the idea of the ticket came to structure our encounters with culture, institutions, and each other. The project has implications for cultural studies, the history of technology, media studies, and performance studies.
Josh Lauer (2015), University of New Hampshire
Josh Lauer examined the early adoption of consumer answering machines in the United States, drawing special attention to their unintended function as a communication deterrent for his research, No One's Home: The Answering Machine as Anti-Communication Technology. This history not only illuminates the diffusion of an underappreciated technological innovation and its adaptation by users, it also challenges assumptions about the meaning of “communication” technology itself. Lauer used the PhoneTel Collection, 1954-1994, and the Daniel Henderson Portable Electronic Devices Documentary Collection, 1968-2002. These collections shed light on the technical development of these devices, the intended uses of their designers, and their historical context as consumer artifacts.
Cynthia Liu (2006, 2007), independent filmmaker
Cynthia Liu, an independent writer-filmmaker with Tears in Rain Productions, conducted research for a feature-length documentary about the Filipino American roots of the yo-yo. Liu made use of the Duncan Family Yo-Yo Collection.
Bernadette Longo (2003), University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
Edmund Berkeley, an early computer popularizer and founder of the Association for Computing Machinery, was the focus of Longo’s research. She used a wide variety of computer-related collections for her biography of Berkeley.
Robin Lynch (2017), McGill University
Locating the Visual in Research and Development: The Allure of Creativity
Lynch examines the decision to incorporate artists in R&D departments, asking why specific R&D departments began to consider interdisciplinary collaboration conducive to innovation, and how this shifted understandings of knowledge production and invention. Further, what was the role of perception and visualization in the development of communications technologies such as computer systems, scanning devices, and sensors? By examining several corporate collections Lynch is contextualizing the important role the shifting formation of workplaces had in fostering innovative projects.
Allison Marsh (2011), University of South Carolina
Allison Marsh used a variety of collections in the Archives Center (N W Ayer Advertising Agency Records, Underwood & Underwood Glass Stereograph Collection, and Warshaw Collection of Business Americana) and the Smithsonian Libraries, as well as artifacts from the Division of Work and Industry for her forthcoming exhibit, "The Ultimate Vacation: Watching Other People Work." The exhibit explores the history of factory tours in America, focusing on three main industries (food, mail order, and automotive). The exhibit shows the widespread popularity of industrial tourism from the 1890s to the present day and seeks to show how innovative ideas of industrious leaders transform consumer society.
David Nofre Mateo (2010), University of Amsterdam
David Nofre Mateo examined the early attempts to promote the exchange of computer programs by bringing to a halt the proliferation of programming languages. Specifically, his project takes the programming language ALGOL (for algorithmic language) as a lens to explore the first decade of programming language development. Nofre Mateo consulted The Computer Standards Collection, SHARE Records, Paul Armer Collection, SHARE Numerical Analysis Project Records, and the John Clifford Shaw Papers as well as materials held in the Division of Information, Technology, and Communication for his project, “Learning to live with Babel: rethinking the early history of programming languages, 1958-1968.”
Alexis McCrossen (2002), Harvard University
Alexis McCrossen used her travel award to support research for her book Marking Modern Times, which deals with the ownership and distribution of mechanical timepieces between the Civil War and World War I. She made use of the E. Howard Clock Collection and the James Arthur Collection of watch and clock repair manuals, and she surveyed the Division of History of Technology’s pocket watches and tower and clock movements.
John McVey (2003), Montserrat College of Art
John McVey studied the ways in which telegraph code books were conceived and organized; how they were used; how they affected telegraphic expression; their relationship to other linguistic, literary, and even philosophical developments of their time; and the semantic nature of user-side data compression in the age of telegraphy. McVey made use of code books and telegrams from the Western Union Telegraph Company Records.
Ben Miller (2009), Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Ben Miller used the Ralph Baer and Semi Joseph Begun Papers for his current research War Engineers Peace, which examines communication technologies. Specifically, Miller looked at Baer's work in electrical engineering and munitions training, and the relationship forged therein between martial and information technologies while his use of the Begun papers explored how magnetic recording as a technology advanced from a wire-based curiosity to the indispensable medium of contemporary recording today.
John Miller (2013), Georgia Institute of Technology
John Miller examined the complex dynamics of technological innovations that influenced strategic and tactical decision-making by military leaders of the Civil War. His research centered on one of the less frequently examined command and control elements: the electro-magnetic telegraph. Miller used the Western Union Telegraph Company Records, the Baltimore and Ohio Records, and the Warshaw Collection of Business Americana.
Nicholaas Mink (2010), University of Wisconsin, Madison
Nicholaas Mink’s research focused on better understanding the maturation of the restaurant franchise system from the 1920s to the present and understanding it as an integral part of American business, cultural, technological, and food history. Mink consulted the Carvel Ice Cream Records, Coon Chicken Inn Scrapbooks, Horn and Hardart Company Records, Krispy Kreme Doughnut Corporation Records, A. Bernie Wood Papers, and the library’s trade literature collection for his dissertation, "A Technological, Cultural, and Culinary Analysis of the Development of Restaurant Franchising."
Elizabeth Neswald (2017) Brock University
Material Cultures of Diabetes Management
Newald’s project investigates the development of apparatus and objects in the area of diabetes management, focusing primarily on blood sugar monitoring equipment and apparatus, insulin, and insulin delivery systems, as well as communicative material such as advertisements, educational material, and packaging. This study of medical artifacts and their practices reveals a dynamic and interactive process of invention, innovation, and modification that took place between the manufacturers of medical equipment and devises, and the two types of users—medical practitioners and patients.
Alan Noonan (2015), University of Cork College, Ireland
Alan Noonan examined the Eckley Coxe Brothers Collection for his forthcoming biography, Eckley Coxe, Lord of the Anthracite Lands. Eckley Coxe was an engineer, inventor, businessman, and innovator who, along with his brothers, founded the Coxe Brothers Coal Company. Noonan's previous research foucsed on the "Molly Maguire" disturbances of the 1870s, with a particular focus on Coxe and his relationship with his largely Irish workforce. This research led him to examine Coxe in more depthand to better understand the mine operations in the anthracite region of Pennsylvania in the nineteenth century.
David Nye (2015), University of Southern Denmark
David Nye examined the William J. Hammer Collection, the Warshaw Collection of Business Americana, the General Electric Nela Park Collection, and the Larry Zim World’s Fair Collection for his book, Illumination and Public Space: Redefining the American City, 1875-1915, which examines how American cities explored different systems of illumination. Using representative case studies, taken in chronological sequence from 1875 until 1915, Nye’s research examines the varied possibilities of urban public lighting as Americans transformed the night landscape.
Eric Nystrom (2013), Rochester Institute of Technology
Eric Nystrom explored the invention of coal mining machinery in America before World War II, and the re-construction of that history of innovation through efforts to document and collect it for the Museum of History and Technology (now the National Museum of American History) in the early 1960s. Nystrom consulted documents and artifacts pertaining to the invention of coal mining machinery that were collected for the Museum by retired coal machinery manufacturing executive J.D.A. Morrow from 1959–1963. Nystrom consulted the Charles O. Houston curatorial files, which are part of the records of the Division of Work and Industry, National Museum of American History, as well as the Smithsonian Libraries Trade Literature Collection containing coal mining machinery catalogs.
Ingrid Ockert (2016), Princeton University
Truly Science is Everybody's Business: The First Science Shows, 1948-1965
Ockert examined the Mr. Wizard Papers to examine how Don Herbert, the host of Watch Mr. Wizard, was the inventor of a new form of scientific storytelling: the children’s program. A chapter of Ockert’s dissertation compares Watch Mr. Wizard with The Johns Hopkins Science Review for the purpose of elucidating different methods of science education on television.
Jeff Opt (2001), National Cash Register Archives
Jeff Opt, an archivist for the National Cash Register (NCR) archives at the Montgomery County Historical Society of Dayton, OH, conducted research in the Computer Oral History Collection. Opt used specific oral histories that discussed NCR in preparation for an oral history project.
Emily Orr (2014), Royal College of Art/Victoria & Albert Museum
Emily Orr used the Messmore & Damon Company Records, the Landy Hales Papers, the William Bird Holidays on Display Collection, and Smithsonian Libraries Trade Literature Collection for her forthcoming dissertation on “Dressing a New Interior: The Development of Department Store Display, 1880–1920.” Orr examines the rise of the department store in London, New York, and Chicago from the point of view of the window dressers, shop fitters, and mercantile interior decorators. Her research focuses on the specialist design strategy, fixtures, and technologies at work as important evidence of innovation and invention in the commercial retail sphere.
Rachel Plotnick (2011), Northwestern University
Rachel Plotnick conducted research in the N W Ayer Advertising Agency Records, J. Harry Dubois Collection on the History of Plastics, Warshaw Collection of Business Americana, and the William J. Hammer Collection for her dissertation, "Media’s Middlemen: A History of Navigation from Tuning to Touch." Plotnick’s research explores three technologies—the radio, television, and the computer—platforms that provide content and various modes of navigation to access that content. Plotnick aims to answer questions related to the historical relationship between touch and technology, issues surrounding consumer access to and control over media content, and evolving forms of navigation on material, social, and cultural levels.
Tara Rodgers (2009), McGill University
Exploring the history of sound media, Tara Rodgers used the Analogue Music Synthesizer Oral History Project to for her dissertation research on Synthesis: A Feminist History of Synthesized Sound, 1945–1980.
Michelle Rodino-Colocino (2015), Penn State University
Michelle Rodino-Colocino examined the Marvin Mundell Industrial Engineering Collection for her forthcoming book Making Media Work: A Cultural History of New Media and Management. Rodino-Colocino’s book investigates the promise and practice of labor management beginning at the turn of the 20th century with the new medium of film for time-motion studies and ending with new digital communication technologies for “anytime, anywhere” work. Her research seeks to examine relationships between new media technologies and innovations in labor management theory and practice.
Audrey Russek (2013), Gustavus Adolphus College
Audrey Russek explored technological innovations used by the US restaurant industry in the first half of the 20th century for her forthcoming book, Restaurant Orders: Controlling the Public Dining Environment in Modern America. Russek examined several collections, including the Warshaw Collection of Business Americana, Smithsonian Institution Library Trade Literature, N W Ayer Advertising Agency Records, and Bennett Pottery Company Records.
Alexander Russo (2001), Brown University
Using primarily the George H. Clark “Radioana” Collection, Alexander Russo conducted research for his dissertation on the transition from network radio to network television, focusing on ways in which each medium affected the development of the other. Russo also used the Warshaw Collection, N.W. Ayer Advertising Collection, and the Kraft Foods Advertising Collection.
Kara Schlichting (2012), Rutgers University
Kara Schlichting’s research examines innovations in suburban design and leisure spaces as part of the modernization of metropolitan planning from 1870 to 1940 in greater New York, the Bronx, and Queens, and bordering Westchester, Nassau, and Fairfield counties. Specifically, Schlichting’s research is a new interpretation of the 1939–1940 New York World’s Fair as an exhibition of design and planning efforts that claimed to soothe concerns about urban environment with planning, architecture, and technological innovations designed for suburban living. Important implications for the histories of metropolitan growth and city and regional planning emerge from an analysis of the Fair and its exhibits as part of the story of 20th-century innovations and invention. The Fair’s exhibits showcased ideas of modernity in the fields of science, technology, economics, architecture, and industrial and urban design. In imparting a sense of newness and innovation through its design and exhibits, the Fair presented the future as a time of newness, invention, and unlimited American potential for growth and accumulation. Schlichting consulted the Larry Zim World’s Fair Collection; the New York World’s Fair Collection, 1939; Division of Community Life World’s Fair Collection, 1876–1993; and the Edward J. Orth Memorial Archives of the World’s Fair, 1939–1940.
Peter Scott (2012), University of Reading
Peter Scott used the George H. Clark Radioana Collection to study the innovation, productivity, and industrial structure in the United States radio equipment industry from 1920 to 1941.
Sarah Scripps (2018), University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point
Science Fairs Before Sputnik
Scripps's project examines the history of science concerning invention and innovation namely, how scientists are made. Science Fairs Before Sputnik traces the formation and evolution of science fairs in America, focusing on the ways in which adolescents established communities of practice by engaging in these competitions. Over the course of the twentieth century, generations of American children conducted their first experiments by crafting science fair projects. Her project evaluates this understudied phenomenon against the backdrop of American fascinations and fears of science, evolving notions of adolescence, and persistent pressures to develop future innovators for the good of the nation.
Marsha Siefert (2006), Central European University
Marsha Siefert used the Western Union Telegraph Company Records for her current book project, a comparative history of telegraph systems in large land-based multicultural empires of Europe and Asia.
Anthony Silva (1999), independent researcher
Anthony Silva, a former Western Union employee, examined the history of labor management relations in the telegraph industry. Silva used the Western Union Telegraph Co. Records for research that resulted in an article titled “Dots, Dashes, and Tyranny,” published in Labors Heritage, vol. 11, no. 3, Spring/Summer 2001.
Serenity Sutherland (2019), SUNY Oswego
Sutherland’s project, “Visualizing 19th and 20th Century Women in Science and Technology,” is a linked, digital database that provides greater access to the histories of diversity in science and technology from 1800 to the present. Questions the project will consider include: What roles have gender, race, class and sexuality played in the identity of individual scientists and technologists? How have women fared as both subject to and producers of scientific and technological research? Has science changed with the increased involvement of women?
Kara Swanson (2016), Northeastern University
A Passion for Patents: Citizenship, Inventiveness and American Nationhood
Swanson examined several collections in the Archives Center for a book-length social and political history of patents in the United States. The project will examine the overlooked role of these legal and economic grants in the formation of American identity, citizenship and nationhood.
Ovidiu Tichindeleanu (2004), State University of New York, Binghamton
Ovidiu Tichindeleanu’s research focused on the historical and philosophical inquiry into meaning, symbols, and the mechanical transcription of sound in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His work contributes to the understanding of historical dimensions of sensorial perception and affectivity in the aftermath of the development of mechanical means of sensory transcription and reproduction. Tichindeleanu examined the William K. Applebaugh papers and the Charles Sumner Tainter Papers.
Shaun VanCour (2005), University of Wisconsin, Madison
Shaun VanCour conducted research in the George H. Clark “Radioana” Collection. His dissertation, "The Sounds of ‘Radio’: Technologies, Programming, and Production Practices of 1920s American Broadcasting," delineates the aesthetic parameters of early American broadcasting: the emergence of new technologies of sound reproduction, their use within the production practices of a new class of radio professionals, the programming forms and presentation styles that characterized the cultural output of this new field of broadcast radio, and the corresponding forms of cultural experience offered to radio’s growing audience of broadcast listeners.
Andrew Warnes (2016), University of Leeds
Flow: US Literature and the Evolution of Supermarket Technology after World War II
Warnes research examines the various technological innovations that brought the American supermarket into existence. Researching the telescoping cart, bar code technology, supermarket packaging, and scanner technology, Warnes shows that these innovations were neither unrelated nor ad hoc reactions to isolated technological problems. Instead they belonged to a decisive shift in postwar US modernity to a new paradigm that reframed choice no longer just in terms of product range but also of the mobility, ease and autonomy of the individual shopper.
Jennifer Way (2009), University of North Texas
Jennifer Way examined the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT) Records for further understanding of the post-1945 relationships of writing about technology and visual culture by researching the reception and use of the English-language version of Walter Benjamin's essay, "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction." Additionally, Way studied the Janese Swanson Innovative Lives Presentation video footage to advance a multimedia project, "Women Art Technology."
Logan Williams (2011), Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute
Logan Williams used the Patricia Bath Innovative Lives Presentation and Interview for her dissertation "Moving Science from Below—NGOs Fighting Avoidable Blindness in South Asia and the United States." Williams's research examines the circulation of innovation globally, in particular innovative surgical technologies, ophthalmic technologies, and hospital operations management techniques that have been created to fight avoidable blindness around the world.
Paige Welch (2012), Duke University
Paige Welch examined records related to the 1997 exhibit, “Oil from the Arctic,” for her work on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline and the 1970s frontier. Welch focused on the intersection of environmentalism and pipeline engineering and the significance of technology to national identity.
Josh Wolff (2005), Columbia University
Exploring the Western Union Telegraph Company Records, Josh Wolff examined the company’s status as the first private national monopoly in the US, highlighting the internal and external debates about the balance between property and civic responsibility and the power of the federal government to regulate innovation and industrial capital in the Gilded Age.