Current Fellows (appointed in 2017)
Arthur Molella Distinguished Fellow
Stephen Mihm, Associate Professor, Dept. of History, University of Georgia
Stephen Mihm is writing a history of standards and standardization in the United States, titled The Search for Standards: Modernity, Markets, and the Order of Things (forthcoming, Harvard University Press). The project examines how industrial standards governing everything from screw threads to ball bearings to pipe flanges became uniform across national and even international space. Mihm’s study traces how trade associations, professional engineering organizations, and obscure but powerful standards-setting bodies helped banish the bewildering diversity characteristic of the nineteenth century with a remarkable measure of uniformity in the twentieth century. He suggests that our global economy depends on this ubiquitous, if largely invisible, uniformity; the vast technological systems that make modern life possible cannot operate without them.
Lemelson Center Post-Doctoral Fellows
Vaibhav Singh, Lecturer, Dept. of Typography & Graphic Communication, University of Reading (UK)
Vaibhav Singh is a typographer and type designer, specializing in the design of typefaces for Indian scripts. Singh's research project is titled "The Eighth Wonder: American Typographic Innovation in the Making of India’s Newspaper Revolution." The early decades of the twentieth century introduced profound changes in the manner in which news and newspapers made their way to a rapidly expanding readership in India. Singh’s project examines how technological developments emanating from the United States shaped the composition of text in a number of Indian languages and scripts, consequently defining what the twentieth-century newspaper looked like in India. Vaibhav will consult the Mergenthaler Linotype Company Records and the American Trade Literature Collection to explore the design processes and innovative developments involved in this enterprise.
Heidi Voskuhl, Associate Professor, Dept. of History and Sociology of Science, University of Pennsylvania
Heidi Voskuhl’s two-part project is titled “Innovation as Institution: Machine Ages, Theories of Government, and the ‘Consequences’ of Technology in Industrial and Post-Industrial Eras (c. 1890 to 2000).” The first part of the project is a book-length study on the “Second” Industrial Revolution in the US and Germany (1890 to 1930). It examines engineers in Europe and the United States who first formulated political theories, ethics, and metaphysics of technology and innovation, and discussed them across the Atlantic Ocean. Their exchanges are the prototype of all subsequent debates about the “consequences” of technology and innovation in society. To trace this lineage, the second part of Voskuhl’s projects examines four case studies: 1) the beginning of the nuclear arms race in the early Cold War in Western Europe; 2) civil engineering in the early years of independence in India in the 1950s; 3) the “Toyota Lean Production System” in Japan and the US in the 1980s; and 4) the first “dot-com bubble” in the US, 1997-2000. Through these case studies, she argues that claims and visions about innovation, the factory, mechanization, mass production, and mass consumption in those eras were shaped by the earlier debates, perceptions, and anxieties of the classical factory age.
Lemelson Center Pre-Doctoral Fellow
Spring Greeney, Ph.D. candidate, History Department, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Spring Greeney’s research project is titled “What Clean Smells Like: An Environmental History of Doing the Wash, 1845-1992.” Moving from the backyard washtub to the in-home washing machine, Greeney’s project examines how commercial chemists, appliance manufacturers, advertising agents, and washing workers in the US struggled to manage non-human nature—hard water, rancid soaps, delicate textiles, a lack of clear drying days—creeping into the very human space of the home. Tracing the 150-year commercialization of washing reveals the centrality of non-human nature in shaping even our most synthetic household products and exposes the efforts required to re-feminize washing as “women’s work” across 150 years of US history.
Fellows' affiliations at the time of their fellowship appointments are listed with their names.
Arthur Molella Distinguished Fellows
Rayvon Fouché, Director of the American Studies Program and Associate Professor in the School of Interdisciplinary Studies at Purdue University
Rayvon Fouché used his residency at the Lemelson Center to continue his research at the intersection of sports technology, innovation and human performance, including by making use of objects and archival materials in the national collections at the National Museum of American History for his project, The Machine in the Game: Technology, Design, and the Evolution of Contemporary Sport. Fouché also contributed to Lemelson Center programming and a conference on the topic of innovation in sports.
Caroline Acker (2003), associate professor of history, Carnegie Mellon University
Caroline Acker's research interests stem from her experiences as a historian of medicine and as a public health advocate. The founder of several needle exchange programs, Acker is well informed about the transmission of HIV among street drug users. Her fellowship project will reconstruct how injection drug users have used syringes and other drug paraphernalia since 1900, with an emphasis on how knowledge about how to use this equipment was transmitted among networks of injection drug users. Her work adds the experiences of illicit drug users to an area of medical technology where prior historical attention has focused solely on medical use.
Stephen B. Adams (2015), associate professor, Salisbury University
Stephen B. Adams’s research project is entitled “Before the Garage: The Beginnings of Silicon Valley, 1909-1960.” Stephen’s book project explores several Bay Area firms—such as Federal Telegraph, Farnsworth Television, Litton, Varian, Ampex, Eitel-MacCullough, and Hewlett-Packard—that were engaged in high-tech innovation several decades before the invention of the silicon semiconductors that eventually inspired the region’s nickname. Stephen’s study has strong resonance with with the Lemelson Center’s Places of Invention exhibition, and argues for the critical importance of military and federal government contracts in the emergence and growth of the Bay Area electronics industry. During his residence, Stephen will be examining the George H. Clark Radioana collection, the Electricity and Modern Physics Photonegatives collection, and the Western Union and Anglo-American Telegraph Company records. Watch Stephen Adams lecture about his research.
Regina Blaszczyk (1999), assistant professor of history and American studies, Boston University
Today, Americans are accustomed to a startlingly bright material world; fashion hues change with the seasons and coordinate with all other colors. Yet few stop to ponder the roots of the "color revolution" that transformed material life in the 20th century. Not surprisingly, the quest for fashion colors that were both predictable and playful originated in American industry during the heyday of scientific management and mass production during the 1910s—and, ironically, during the golden age of batch production. At the moment when Frederick W. Taylor's followers pressed for "one best way," American consumers accustomed to visual variety demanded appliances, clothing, and automobiles that expressed individuality and personal taste. By the post-World War II era, American manufacturers and retailers fully recognized how to use color for gaining competitive advantage as a mechanism for adding novelty to otherwise uniform products. Remarkably adaptive, color provided designers with the means for reconciling consumers' desires for differentiation with manufacturers' interest in standardization.
During her fellowship at the Lemelson Center, Regina Blaszczyk will be working on a book, The Color Revolution, that explores the pull and tug between these contradictory strains in American business and culture. Questions about the relationships among design, innovation, and consumerism rest at the heart of her project. Using artifacts, company records, trade journals, personal papers, oral histories, and organizational archives as primary sources, she examines the creation and standardization of new colors as inventive processes, considers the cultural tensions embodied in color, and looks at forecasting as an innovative task.
W. Bernard Carlson (2005), associate professor, University of Virginia
W. Bernard Carlson is preparing a book-length biography of American inventor Nikola Tesla, which explores the role of persuasion in the inventive process. Successful inventors, Carlson argues, go beyond the act of invention by persuading others to publicize, invest in, and use a new technology. He seeks to understand precisely how these inventor-entrepreneurs use demonstrations, prototypes, photographs, and interviews to connect new devices with themes and values in popular culture. Carlson will use Tesla-related artifacts in the electricity collections, 19th-century electrical books and Tesla correspondence in the Dibner Library, and the Swezey collection in the Archives Center to explore Tesla’s work. He will also make use of the personal papers of other inventors in the collections to more broadly understand how inventors promote their work.
Richard Candee (1996), professor of American and New England studies and director of the Preservation Studies Program, Boston University
Richard Candee holds doctorates from the University of Pennsylvania and the University of York, England, and has written extensively on New England industry, architecture, and historic preservation. As a Lemelson Center Fellow, Candee will produce a journal article titled Invention and the Mechanization of 19th Century American Knitting using the patent model, costume, and trade catalogue resources at the National Museum of American History.
Lisa D. Cook (2013), associate professor, Economics and International Relations, Michigan State University
Lisa Cook’s research project, entitled “The Idea Gap in Pink and Black,” seeks to explain why the commercialization of patents earned by women and African Americans have traditionally lagged behind the overall commercialization rates for US inventors. During her fellowship tenure, Cook will consult the collections of several women and African American inventors, including Patricia Bath, Marion O’Brien Donovan, Nathanial Mathis, and David Gittens.
Joseph Corn (2006), senior lecturer, Stanford University
Joseph Corn has received both Lemelson and Smithsonian fellowships to conduct research for his book User-Unfriendly: Consumer Struggles with Personal Technology, which explores the difficulties consumers have had buying, learning to operate, and in general understanding and living with complex technologies. He will focus on three crucial devices: the sewing machine, the automobile, and the personal computer, which have each influenced American life in very different ways. It is the sewing machine, one of the first technologies to enter the home that came with tools and an owner’s manual, that Corn intends to focus on during his Lemelson fellowship. He will examine the Museum’s collection of sewing machines, as well as trade literature and instruction manuals in the Archives Center.
Timothy Davis (1998), historian, Historic American Engineering Record, National Park Service
National parks and automobiles, two of America's most popular cultural icons, have been inextricably related throughout the history of American park development. But the relationship of the road to the park has been filled with tension. How do we protect our national parks while providing access to the people who support them? Can nature and culture co-exist? Are nature reserves really "natural" if visitors can drive to and through them? The creative solutions of America's park road designers to these questions and challenges is the focus of Timothy Davis's research. He shows how park road development has evolved over time, and demonstrates that change and innovation are as much a part of the national park experience as the seemingly constant and immutable natural landscape.
Gregory Dreicer (1997), independent curator and historian
Gregory Dreicer is exploring the interrelationships that advanced a landmark development in modern history—the invention of the frame structures that characterize our world. Dreicer presents wooden and metal building systems as structural networks whose creation and development were part of larger networks of invention, transportation, and industrialization. The lattice, a type of truss bridge, is featured in the scholarly book, exhibition, and interactive materials that comprise his project.
Dean Herrin (1997), historian, Historic American Engineering Record, National Park Service
Dean Herrin is writing several journal articles on Montgomery Meigs, celebrated Quartermaster General of the Union Army during the Civil War. Meigs was a skilled engineer with experience in the fields of architecture, invention, art, science, and government. Herrin explores the themes of invention and innovation in Meigs's career, especially as they pertain to the diverse sources of engineering inventiveness, the role of engineering "style," and the collaborative nature of invention.
Patrick Feaster (2011), instructor, Folklore and Ethnomusicology, Indiana University
Patrick Feaster will work closely with Division of Work and Industry curator Carlene Stephens to study and catalog some of the NMAH’s early experimental sound recordings made by Alexander Graham Bell, Emile Berliner, and Charles Sumner Tainter in the 1880s and 1890s. Feaster will also consult the Tainter and William J. Hammer collections in the NMAH Archives Center, as well as the Berliner and Bell papers at the Library of Congress. Feaster will methodically link his physical examination of the recording media with corresponding laboratory notes and journal entries he found in the inventors’ written archival records. This work will contribute to a joint effort by NMAH, the Library of Congress, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to use sophisticated optical techniques to recover, playback, and interpret some of these early recordings without touching or damaging the original cylinders and discs. His work will eventually result in a published, comprehensive discography of the NMAH’s approximately 400 recordings, which will serve a resource for future researchers.
Kathleen Franz (1999), Brown University
"There was this about a Model T," wrote E.B. White in 1936, "the purchaser never regarded his purchase as a complete, finished product. When you bought a Ford, you figured you had a start—a vibrant, spirited framework to which could be screwed an almost limitless assortment of decorative and functional hardware. Driving away from the agency É you were already full of creative worry." In his sentimental eulogy for the archetype of Fordist production, White demonstrated that automotive design was not completely determined at the point of production, nor did it exclude users. Between 1915 and the early years of the Depression, travelers often became amateur inventors as they tinkered with the bodies of their automobiles.
Kathleen Franz will use her time as a Lemelson Fellow to expand her research on middle-class tinkerers who patented their ideas for automotive accessories between 1910 and 1936. Her project will interpret playful invention as tinkering, which was both a leisure time activity, something middle-class Americans did for pleasure as well as a form of creative play that allowed consumers to redesign the car to fit their needs as travelers. Franz's research will build on her dissertation and result in the book Tinkering: Consumers Reinvent the Early Automobile (2005).
Charles Gillmor (2004), professor of history of science, Wesleyan University
Charles Gillmor seeks to document the life of Henry Middleton, amateur inventor and student of 19th century physicist, James Clerk Maxwell. A devotee of Victorian science born and raised in South Carolina, Middleton applied for or received 50 patents over his lifetime, for everything from a surveying level to a flying machine. Gillmor’s study of Middleton’s career as an amateur inventor and disciple of Darwin offers perspective on the role of science in the American south after the Civil War.
Raiford Guins (2010), assistant professor, State University of New York, Stony Brook
Raiford Guins's research explores the study of video/computer game history with special emphasis on the methods necessary for preservation of computer games. Guins used the Ralph Baer Papers and related artifacts as a specific case study for his forthcoming book project Arcadeology: Excavations in Video Game History, Memory, and Preservation. Specifically, he examines early models of TV games and components prior to the production and marketing of Baer’s invention of the Odyssey for Magnavox. Guins also explores how institutional archives illustrate how documentation strategies and curatorial models are employed on complex artifacts like video/computer games.
Kathryn Henderson (1998), assistant professor of sociology, Texas A&M University
Traditional cultures throughout the world have used straw, grasses, and reeds, sometimes combined with earth and timber, to create durable shelter. But until recently the method was considered by many to be primitive and unattractive. Not so any more. Kathryn Henderson is showing that straw-bale building—a cost-efficient and environmentally friendly method—is making a comeback with both grassroots home builders and progressive contractors and architects.
The roots of straw-bale construction are in the invention of horsepowered mechanical hay balers in the US in the late 1800s. They afforded timber-poor Nebraska pioneers a material for building modest homes from resources at hand. Later, builders showed the flexibility of straw-bale building by developing different styles. Today, builders in Texas demonstrate that straw-bale construction not only provides excellent insulation, but creates new communities as people gather to raise the straw-bale wall of new structures. Henderson has done extensive ethnographic field work in central Texas with contemporary straw-bale builders as well as research in the Museum's collections on the development of hay-baling technology.
Roger Horowitz (2000), associate director, Center for the History of Business, Technology, and Society, Hagley Museum and Library
Roger Horowitz is interested in the interaction of technological innovation and popular consumption habits as it relates to our daily diet. Following on his earlier work in labor history and the meatpacking industry, Horowitz is completing a book, Meat: Technology, Industry, and Taste in America, during his Lemelson Fellowship. The book, under contract to Johns Hopkins University Press, focuses on the mobilization of technology, labor, and capital that made meat an accustomed part of the American diet. The book's central issue is the special character of meat as a perishable artifact "created" by slaughtering animals of irregular sizes. Developing the apparatus for killing, preserving, and disseminating meat entailed massive capital investment by business organizations, the labors of tens of thousands of workers, and the creation of machinery to speed production and distribution. "Making meat," however, always was tightly linked to the ways Americans obtained and ate meat. Processing technologies and entrepreneurial initiatives evolved in close conjunction with food consumption practices and Americans' insistence on obtaining wholesome and nutritious meat that conformed to individual and family needs.
B. Zorina Khan (1997–98), assistant professor of economics, Bowdoin College
Zorina Khan is writing a book that assesses the nature and determinants of patenting and inventive activity in the United States between 1790 and 1865. Khan examines the role of the patent system in influencing the democratic nature of invention in the United States in comparison to other countries; demonstrates the system's flexibility and responsiveness to external change; and evaluates whether the rate and direction of inventive activity were measurably altered during the war years.
Stuart W. Leslie (1996–97), professor of history of science, medicine and technology, Johns Hopkins University
Stuart Leslie's publications include The Cold War and American Science (1993) and other studies of post-World War II science research. Building on his contributions as a panelist at the Lemelson Center's "The Inventor and the Innovative Society" symposium in November 1995, Leslie will write two articles during his tenure as a Fellow, studying the successes and failures of New York state's science and technology programs. His research will give insight into designing future programs that foster innovation and high-tech development.
Amy Ogata (2005–06), associate professor, Bard Graduate Center
Looking at the nature of childhood in the post-WWII period, Amy Ogata is writing a book that will focus on how the concept of creativity emerged as a dominant social value in the 1950s and '60s, influencing a vast array of educational and play spaces, toys, books, and other amusements designed to stimulate intelligence. Utilizing a variety of collections, from childhood toys in the Home and Community Life collections to archival resources such as the Binney and Smith (Crayola) papers, Ogata will examine how the idea of creativity emerged in the mid-20th century and how it became inscribed upon postwar childhood, contributing to our understanding of creativity as a historical subject.
Ruth Oldenziel (1996), associate professor, Technology, Gender and Representation, University of Amsterdam
Ruth Oldenziel is the author of numerous articles, papers, and book reviews published in the US and the Netherlands and is founder and president of the Society for Gender and Technology. At the Lemelson Center, Oldenziel will complete several articles for a book, Body by Fisher: The Fisher Body Company, its Craftsman's Guild and Their Models, 1920–1970, based on extensive primary source materials in the collections of the Smithsonian.
Emanuela Scarpellini (2014), professor, University of Milan
Emanuela Scarpellini’s project is entitled “The World of Tomorrow: Innovation and Technology in the American Fashion System.” Emanuela argues that the invention, technological development, and marketing of new synthetic fibers, fabrics and manufacturing methods set new standards in the 20th-century American fashion industry (and subsequently elsewhere). During her residence, Emanuela will be examining several collections representing individual designers, fashion houses, manufacturers, and retailers; these include the DuPont Nylon Collection, the H. Irving Crane Papers, the Maid of Cotton Records, Jantzen Knitting Mills Collection, the Maidenform Collection, the Virginia "Jimmie" Booth Collection, Priscilla of Boston Collection, John and Cile Burbidge Wedding Gown Design Collection, the Estelle Ellis Collection, the Dorothy Shaver Papers, the Gerber Scientific Instrument Company Records, and the Sumner Hosiery Company Mill Records.
Bruce Sinclair (1996), professor emeritus of history of technology, Georgia Institute of Technology
Bruce Sinclair came to the Lemelson Center to work on a book titled Technology and the African American Experience: Needs and Opportunities for Study. Sinclair earned his Ph.D. from the Case Institute of Technology and has written many books, articles, and book reviews on American technology and technical education, including New Perspectives on Technology and American Culture (1986). In 1995 Sinclair was awarded the Da Vinci Medal by the Society for the History of Technology.
Kendra Smith-Howard (2016), associate professor of history, University of Albany (SUNY)
Kendra Smith-Howard’s research project is titled “The Messy History of Cleaning Up in America, 1900-2000.” During the 20th century, Americans altered their standards of cleanliness and how they attained it. Where they had once dried their clothes in the sun and wind, they began to use electric drying machines. Handkerchiefs, rags, and cloth diapers gave way to disposable paper alternatives. Pine and thyme-based cleaning agents gave way to new synthetic chemicals. Through case studies about laundry, paper products, and cleaning fluids, Kendra’s book project will examines the labor, environmental resource management, and policy developments related to the practices of cleaning up in the twentieth-century United States. Kendra will consult the library’s extensive collection of trade literature, and several archival collections, including the Ivory Soap collection, the Marion O’Brien Donovan papers, the Procter & Gamble Packaging collection, and the Stanley Home Products collection.
Kyle Stine (2016), adjunct professor, Media & Communications, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Kyle Stine’s research project is titled “Image Circuits: The Folding of Cinema and Computing.” The project explores the mutual influence of photography/film and computing technologies on one another. Kyle is interested in working with the museum’s integrated circuit, computing, manufacturing (machine vision) and photography/film collections including: the Stanlislaus F. Danko Collection, 1943–1988; the I.C.E. Integrated Circuit Collection, 1970–1997; and the Gerber Scientific Instrument Company Records (Hartford, Conn.), 1911–1998.
Thorin Tritter (2001), adjunct lecturer, La Guardia Community College
Thorin Tritter is interested in technological changes in the newspaper industry in New York. Tritter's research challenges the common image that the newspaper industry has been slow to modernize or adapt to change. He shows that, from the penny press revolution in the 1830s to the rise of the modern newspaper 100 years later, the newspaper industry in New York continually sought ways to increase production and reduce costs through new machinery. During his fellowship, Tritter will revise his dissertation for publication to incorporate more detailed information about the role of technology in newspaper printing, specifically printing presses and type-setting machinery. He will explore how these key inventions were made and what effects the new machinery had on the industry and its workforce. "These new machines did more than just alter one industry," Tritter asserts, "they changed the way Americans learned about the world and helped create an American culture."
Lee Vinsel (2013), assistant professor, Science, Technology, and Society, Stevens Institute of Technology
Lee Vinsel’s project is entitled “Inventing Auto Safety: Technological Change and Social Innovation around Automotive Risk, 1900–1960.” During his fellowship, he will explore the invention and diffusion of automotive safety systems like taillights, braking systems, and street lights through the Museum's extensive collection of early automotive journals (e.g. Horseless Age) and the papers of safety inventor Charles Adler, Jr. Vinsel will even examine the safety features of several cars, including the Museum’s 1948 Tucker sedan.
Gregory Wickliff (2010), associate professor, University of North Carolina, Charlotte
Greg Wickliff’s research examines John William Draper (1811–1882) and his innovative contributions to daguerreotypy and early photography as well as reflecting upon the work of Draper’s son, Henry (1837–1882), in astrophotography and, to a lesser extent, photomicrography. Wickliff documents the full range of Draper’s early experiments in photography to establish more clearly the importance of Draper’s early innovations, and their significance in the evolution of thought about the science and technology of photography. His forthcoming book is titled Enlightened Arguments: Photography and Rhetoric in Nineteenth-Century American Science and Technology.
Steven Wilf (2012), professor and associate dean, University of Connecticut Law School
Steven Wilf, a legal historian, will conduct research for his forthcoming book, tentatively titled Intellectual Property Law in America: A Legal and Cultural History. The book traces the history of American intellectual property law from its beginnings in the 18th century through the digital age and describes how patent, copyright, and trademark laws serve to prompt, direct, or even constrain innovation. Wilf will examine legal documents and court records in several of the Museum’s invention-oriented collections, including the Telescoping Shopping Cart Collection; the Eisler Engineering Company Records; the Serge A. Scherbatskoy Papers; the Arthur Ehrat Papers; and the Leo H. Baekeland Papers.
Matthew Wisnioski (2014), associate professor, Virginia Tech
Matthew Wisnioski’s research project is entitled “Everyone an Innovator: Cultivating Innovation Expertise in All Americans.” In this book project, Matt explores how, beginning in the 1960s, educators, business leaders, and government policy-makers developed and spread new forms of expert knowledge about invention and innovation; their goal was to improve STEM participation and economic growth by fostering creativity and entrepreneurialism. During his residence, Matt will be studying the Lemelson Center itself, and its 20-year record of exploring the history of American invention and encouraging inventive creativity in young people. Specifically, Matt will interviewing staff members and examining records documenting our exhibitions, scholarly programs, and educational initiatives housed at the Smithsonian Institution Archives.
Heather Toomey Zimmerman (2016), associate professor of education, Pennsylvania State University
Heather Toomey Zimmerman’s research project is titled “Designing Educational Supports for Family Learning during Spark!Lab Inventing Activities.” Zimmerman studies how children and their families engage in informal STEM learning outside the classroom. In this design-based research project, she will be observing, interviewing, and surveying children and their families in Spark!lab, the Lemelson Center’s hands-on inventiion and learning space. Specifically, she will investigate how the following aspects of the Spark!Lab experience can be designed to better foster learning: (a) the materials offered during inventing activities, (b) different forms of exhibit signage, and (c) questions, prompts, and educational materials designed for children and parents.
Aaron Alcorn (2005), Ph.D. candidate, Case Western Reserve University
Aaron Alcorn’s dissertation on model building explores the roles that model airplanes played in creating and distributing knowledge about flight in the United States during the 20th century. Alcorn seeks to examine the potential connections between childhood model building and aeronautical engineering within the broader context of a culture of “inventive boyhood” in the early 20th century. Alcorn will use a wide variety of collections, including patent models, hobbyist literature, and the recently acquired Revel collection to explore the links between professional practice and popular culture.
Andrew Bozanic (2008), Ph.D. candidate, Hagley Program, University of Delaware
Andrew Bozanic’s dissertation examines the interplay between makers and users in the social construction of the acoustic guitar in the 20th century, from innovative production techniques and designs to inventive new playing styles. From 1880 to 1970, American manufacturers and musicians influenced the composition, style, and sound of acoustic instruments, resulting in a uniquely flexible and distinctly American guitar that was easy to play, hard to break, and extremely portable. In addition to the Museum’s collection of musical instruments, Bozanic will also examine the business records of guitar manufacturers, periodicals, sheet music, oral histories, and sound recordings.
Casey Cater (2015), Ph.D. candidate, Georgia State University
Casey Cater’s research project is entitled "Regenerating Dixie: Electric Energy and the Making of the Modern South.” His research sits at the nexus of history of technology, environmental history, business history, and Southern history. Casey will be examining several National Museum of American History collections that document hydroelectric dams and the consumer adoption of electricity, including the Hales Bar Dam Collection, the Reddy Kilowatt Records, and the Louisan E. Mamer Rural Electrification Administration Papers.
Hyungsub Choi (2006), Ph.D. candidate, Johns Hopkins University
Hyungsub Choi is looking at the creation and circulation of transistor manufacturing knowledge in the midst of national innovation systems that were undergoing extensive post-war transformation in the US and Japan. Choi argues that the technical challenge of mass producing a new technology, in combination with perceived national security needs, facilitated a rearrangement of the US and Japanese political economy. In addition to the Museum’s collections of early transistors, Choi will also make use of the “chip” collection and the Integrated Circuit Engineering Corporation records in the Archives Center.
Gerardo Con Diaz (2015), Ph.D. candidate, Yale University
Gerardo Con Diaz’s research project is entitled “Intangible Inventions: Patents and the History of Software, 1945-1985.” During his fellowship, Con examined the Ralph H. Baer papers, the Computer Oral History Collection, and the ICE Integrated Circuit Engineering collection. Con also examined the museum’s microchip collection and technical documentation from several firms including AT&T Bell Labs, IBM, Control data Corporation, Burroughs, and Honeywell. Watch Con Diaz lecture about his research.
Samuel Dodd (2011), Ph.D. candidate, Architectural History and Theory, University of Texas, Austin
Sam Dodd’s dissertation examines how professional architects and the American construction industry used the emerging medium of television to advance their socio-political aims and promote a popular ideology of modern American building and architecture. Dodd will closely examine the National Association of Manufacturers’ Industry on Parade film series, a syndicated public affairs television program produced by NAM as "a pictorial review of events in business and industry." Dodd will specifically focus on 56 episodes that highlighted the manufacture of building materials, the construction and building trades, domestic and suburban life, and general architecture. By closely examining and comparing the various episodes for their visual format, narrative structure, cultural references, and televisual techniques, Dodd finds that the Industry on Parade series helped empower viewers with information, while “humanizing” American industry. As such, the series served as an important antecedent for television channels such as the DIY Network and HGTV, and programs like How It's Made.
Samuel Franklin (2016), Ph.D. candidate, American Studies, Brown University
Samuel Franklin’s research project is titled “The Cult of Creativity: Searching for the Source of Progress after the End of Ideology.” Sam’s project focuses on the rise of Creative Thinking, a broad but distinguishable category of how-to books, methods, and business practices (e.g. “brainstorming”) that emerged from the 1950s to 1970s in order to encourage creativity and innovation within postwar corporate settings. Sam will consult several collections, including: the Landor Design Collection; the Aladdin Industries Collection; the Singer Industrial Design Collection; and the NW Ayer Advertising Agency Records.
Daniel Freund (2005), Ph.D. candidate, Columbia University
Daniel Freund’s dissertation examines the commodification of natural light in American cities in the early 20th century, at a time when concerns that air pollution and the trend towards skyscrapers were negatively affecting the health and well being of city dwellers, especially children. While at the Lemelson Center, Freund will explore technologies invented to counter the perceived problems of lack of sunlight, including special window glass, light therapy, and vitamin-D fortified foods. He will make use of a wide variety of collections, from lamps in the electricity collections to advertising and the Nela Park (General Electric) archival records, to name a few.
Jacob Gaboury (2013), Ph.D., candidate, Media, Culture, and Communications, New York University
Jacob Gaboury’s research project is entitled “Image Objects: Computer Graphics at the University of Utah, 1965-1979.” Gaboury studies a cohort of computer scientists at the University of Utah who went on to found several pioneering graphics firms, including Jim Clark (Silicon Graphics), John Warnock (Adobe), and Edwin Catmull (Pixar). At NMAH, he will consult the American National Standards Institute Collection and the trade catalogs of several computer firms, including Atari and Evans & Sutherland. Gaboury’s research on the technical community at Utah has strong resonance with the Center’s Places of Invention exhibition.
Sarah Gillespie (2004), Ph.D. candidate, CUNY Graduate Center
While Samuel Morse is recognized as an important 19th century American painter and inventor of the telegraph, Sarah Gillespie seeks to explore his contributions to early American photography. Morse was instrumental in introducing the process of daguerreotypy in the United States soon after the invention was announced in France in 1839. Gillespie will study the Morse and Draper collections housed in the Museum’s Photo History division to document Morse’s technical innovations as well as his artistic uses of photography.
Rachel Gross (2013), Ph.D. candidate, History, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Gross’s project, entitled “From Buckskin to Gore-Tex: Consumption as a Path to Mastery in 20th c. American Wilderness Recreation,” examines how Americans paradoxically invented and relied upon all kinds of high-tech inventions like sleeping bags, portable camping stoves, and waterproof jackets to escape the modern world and get “back to nature.” During her fellowship, Gross will consult the collections and trade catalogs of several outdoor equipment inventors and outfitters, including the Aladdin Industries, Inc. records, the DuPont Nylon collection, and the Leonard Karr collection. Listen to her speak about her research.
Aimi Hamraie (2012), Ph.D. candidate, Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies, Emory University
Aimi Hamraie explores the role of scientific knowledge production in the invention of assistive technologies and the emergence of the Universal Design (UD) movement. She will examine several collections, including the Accessible Snowboard Collection, the Van Phillips Video Oral History and Papers, the Safko International, Inc. Records, and the Jose L. Hernandez-Rebollar Innovative Lives Presentation. She will also work with the Smithsonian Accessibility Office to understand how universal design considerations have been built into past exhibitions and the Museum itself.
Kristen Haring (2000), Ph.D. candidate, History of Science, Harvard University
"Amateurs matter in technology," asserts Kristen Haring. "Engineers and big business do not simply hand down innovations to the rest of us. Important technical ideas arise from weekend tinkering in basement workshops." Haring's dissertation-in-progress focuses on the work of these anonymous inventors in the field of amateur, or "ham," radio. While amateur radio enthusiasts embraced the image of great inventors struggling alone in workshops until the "eureka" moment arrived, most ham operators were, in fact, unconventional inventors. In contrast to the secrecy involved in the patent process, the culture of the hobby dictated sharing of knowledge; amateur radio inventors typically published their ideas in ham radio magazines. Making extensive use of the archival and artifact collections of the Museum, Haring hopes to uncover the legacy of achievement left by the hundreds of amateur inventors who disappeared behind this veil of modesty.
Eric Hintz (2007), Ph.D. candidate, University of Pennsylvania
Eric Hintz’s dissertation examines the changing fortunes of independent American inventors during the rise of corporate R&D in the first half of the 20th century. With corporate R&D on the rise, the world of independent inventors was beginning to change. Yet historical patent data shows that individual inventors continued to outpace corporate labs in numbers of patents granted well into the 1930s. Hintz will explore a wide variety of independent inventors’ papers housed in the Museum’s Archives Center to find out how inventors reacted and adapted to the emergence of industrial research as a competitive threat, how they attempted to survive economically, and how they were impacted by larger economic forces propelled by two world wars and the New Deal.
Ai Hisano (2014), Ph.D. candidate, University of Delaware
Ai Hisano’s project is entitled “A History of Food Color in the United States, 1880s-1970s.” Ai explores how manufacturers, advertisers, and consumers employed color-controlling innovations like synthetic dyes, ethylene gas, clear plastic packaging, and color photography to transform notions of food purity, authenticity, goodness, naturalness, and artificiality. During her residence, Ai will be examining collections documenting various food companies and restaurants (e.g. Carvel Ice Cream, Campbell’s Soup, Whitman’s, El Chico, Horn and Hardart); food advertisers and marketers (e.g. Albert W. Hampson Commercial Artwork Collection, A. Bernie Wood Papers, Faber Birren collection); and materials designed for consumers (e.g. Archives Center Cookbook Collection).
Matthew Hockenberry (2012), Ph.D. candidate, Media, Culture, and Communication, New York University, and Co-Founder, SourceMap.com
Matt Hockenberry researches and maps the global supply chains used in the manufacture of telegraph and telephone technologies from approximately 1876–1926. He will examine several collections, including the Western Union Telegraph Company Records, the Anglo-American Telegraph Company, Ltd. Records, and the papers of Western Electric Manufacturing Co. co-founder, Elisha Gray.
Andrew Hurle (2009), Ph.D. candidate, College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales
Andrew Hurle's dissertation examines the technical innovations of mechanical drawing and machine engraving devices and how they were used to create the ornamental linear designs on 19th century American currency, which have since been used to secure paper money against counterfeit. He is also interested in how the visual appearance of financial and security documents communicate tangible value, giving people faith and confidence in everyday monetary transactions. In addition to his historical research, Hurle intends to create a body of artistic work in conjunction with the Centre for Fine Print Research in Bristol, England which complements and forms a dialog with his academic scholarship.
Shane Landrum (2008), Ph.D. candidate, Brandeis University
Shane Landrum will use his fellowship to examine the punchcard tabulation equipment designed by inventor Herman Hollerith and his major competitor James Powers in the late 19th century. These machines enabled American government and business to summarize complicated data quickly and affordably, making the United States the first country in the world to use machines for calculating public health statistics and census data. This project is part of Landrum’s dissertation, which focuses on the development of American birth registration systems.
Hallie Lieberman (2012), Ph.D. candidate, Mass Communication, University of Wisconsin, Madison
Hallie Lieberman studies the technological history and social impact of sex toys and sexual aids. She will explore familiar collections in new ways—for example, she examined the trade catalogs of the B.F. Goodrich rubber company for information on condoms (rather than tires) and the catalogs of the Hamilton Beach appliance company for information on vibrators (not toasters or blenders). She will also examine the Museum’s HIV/AIDS collections and long runs of various periodicals to track the socio-cultural impact of sexual toys and devices.
Joris Mercelis (2010), Ph.D. candidate, History, Ghent University
Joris Mercelis’s dissertation examines the career of Belgian-American chemist, inventor, and entrepreneur Dr. Leo H. Baekeland, best known for inventing velox film and his namesake Bakelite plastics. Mercelis will primarily consult the Museum’s collection of Baekeland papers, but will also examine several collections that document the diffusion of Bakelite products through several industries; these include the J. Harry DuBois Collection on the History of Plastic, the Celluloid Corporation Records, the Grace Jeffers Collection of Formica Materials, the Western Union Telegraph Company Records, and the Warshaw Collection of Business Americana. Mercelis explores Baekeland’s career from several analytical angles, including his experience as an immigrant and international businessman; his commitment to science-based industrial research; his entrepreneurial style and commercial strategy; and his approach to intellectual property.
Mara Mills (2006), Ph.D. candidate, Harvard University
Mara Mills's dissertation analyzes the contributions of deaf and hard-of-hearing people to the development of technologies for amplification, sound inscription, and speech synthesis. Looking specifically at the hearing aid, sound spectrography, and speaking automata, she both explores the experiences of disabled individuals and argues for their central influence on information theory and transistorization. Mills has discovered that, once deaf people were understood to be “educable,” they began serving as models for communication technologies. In turn, she argues, new technologies influenced how scientists perceived human anatomy. For example, the invention of telephony led scientists to think of the ear as productive and amplifying, rather than as a passive recording device. Mills will examine the Museum’s speech synthesis and hearing device collections.
Cyrus Mody (2002), Ph.D. candidate, Science and Technology Studies Department, Cornell University
Cyrus Mody is interested in the link between measurement standards (metrology) and instrumentation. The case study for his dissertation focuses on the organizational cultures that developed around the invention and use of the scanning probe microscope. Studying the development of these instruments at corporate research labs, academic institutions, and startup companies, Mody traces how two vastly different cultures of scanned microscope experimentation and innovation emerged in the 1980s. He finds one culture that evolved from traditional surface science (primarily at IBM and Bell Labs), and another that was cobbled together from researchers on the west coast (Stanford, UC Santa Barbara) who were interested in inventing and propagating new instruments. Together these cultures set the basis for what would count as a good microscope, how to build them, and how to make the results obtained from these new instruments credible to a wider audience.
Simone Mueller (2010), Ph.D. candidate, Free University, Berlin
Simone Mueller’s work explores the interaction of the global and the local sphere in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, using the Atlantic cable station at Heart’s Content, Newfoundland as an example. Mueller analyzes how globalization, as it is represented in the invention of the submarine telegraphs and their communication implications, affected people socially and culturally on a local level and vice versa. Her study concerns itself with the interaction of Atlantic cable station operators, local residents, and local landline operators and attempts to solve the seeming contradiction of Heart’s Content being at the periphery of civilization while also at the heart of global communication.
Heinrich Schwarz (2000), Ph.D. candidate, Program in Science, Technology, and Society, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Much attention, in both popular media and academic disciplines, is paid today to the shifting nature of work in the context of a changing economy, technological advances, and a general process of globalization. The perceived move towards a post-industrial, information-based, and networked society, populated by technologically-supported knowledge workers, gives rise to images of working nomads, constantly on the move as part of virtual offices or organizations where space and time no longer matter. In his dissertation-in-progress, Heinrich Schwarz is investigating the changes in office work as they are related to changes in the layout and design of work environments, and in particular, of offices. Through this lens, he is examining the interrelation of social, spatial, and technological reorganizations of office work: how information and communication technologies, the organization of workspaces and workplaces, and the social structure of office work mutually affect each other. The result of Schwarz's research will be a better understanding of the current trend towards more mobile, flexible, and virtual forms of work—and what that means for the workers involved.
Ben Shackleford (2001), Ph.D. candidate, Georgia Institute of Technology
"The technologists who created stock cars labored in virtual obscurity," explains Ben Shackleford. "My research seeks to uncover the remarkable exploits of this anonymous community of tinkerers and inventors who structured the course of innovation and diffusion that governs competition in American stock car racing." Shackleford's dissertation-in-progress focuses on the development of stock car technology through the diffusion of innovation among mechanics. In spite of the secrecy surrounding innovations in stock car technology that often provided a competitive advantage, Shackleford's research shows that this knowledge easily spread throughout the racing community. During his fellowship, Shackleford will use both enthusiast literature and the stock cars themselves to document how technological knowledge was transferred among skilled mechanics. His research will contribute to the upcoming joint Smithsonian and Atlanta History Center exhibit entitled "Speed and Spirit."
Kirsty Smith (2014), Ph.D. candidate, Falmouth University
Kirsty Smith’s project is entitled “The Promise of the Experience” and explores innovations in skateboards, skate fashion, and the photo and film technologies that document skate culture. Kirsty, a professional sports stylist and photographer, will be examining the museum’s skateboarding collections and hours of interviews and program footage associated with the Center’s Innoskate programming.
Alana Staiti (2016), Ph.D. candidate, Science & Technology Studies, Cornell University
Alana Staiti’s research project is titled: “A Body in Motion: A History of Human Modeling for Computer Animation, 1960s-1980s.” Alana is working at the intersection of photography and video, time and motion studies, video gaming, computing, and the disciplining of the body. During her fellowship residence, she will consult a diverse set of collections, including the Marvin E. Mundel Industrial Engineering collection; the Frank & Lillian Gilbreth collection; and the stop-motion photographs of Harold E. Edgerton and Eadweard Muybridge.
Sarah Stanford-McIntyre (2015), Ph.D. candidate, College of William & Mary
Sarah Stanford-McIntyre’s research project is entitled “Working Landscapes: The Labor of West Texas Oil, 1920-1970.” Sarah explores how local boosters and oil firms employed innovative technologies (and a variety of legislative, economic, and cultural strategies) to transform a fundamentally desolate area into a massive industrial system designed to pump, refine, and transport oil from the rural Permian Basin and around the globe. During her residence, Sarah will be examining several collections including: the American Petroleum Institute Photograph and Film Collection, the Burton-Humphreys Oil Production Collection, the Serge Scherbatskoy Papers, the Roy Eilers Collection of Scientific and Technical Clippings, the Instrument Society of America collection, and industry periodicals such as Petroleum Technology and Bulletin of the Southwestern Association of Petroleum Geologists.
Dominique Tobbell (2006), Ph.D. candidate, University of Pennsylvania
Dominque Tobbell is writing a dissertation exploring the relationship between industry, academic institutions, and government in the creation of a research and political culture that promoted private drug development in the last half of the 20th century. Tobbell argues that the forging of these cultures depended on the maintenance of knowledge networks between industrial, academic, and clinical researchers, and political networks between industry, universities, and the government. She will examine the records of several pharmaceutical companies in the Archives Center, including Sterling Drug, Inc., Norwich Eaton Pharmaceuticals, and Syntex.
Sara "Bess" Williamson (2009), Ph.D. candidate, History of American Civilization, University of Delaware
Bess Williamson is interested in how changing ideas about disability and rights in the last half of the 20th century played a role in making products and spaces more accessible. She posits that during this time disability rights advocates linked the accessibility of objects and environments to the entitlements of citizenship. An awareness of potential disabled users has inspired new designs and features with broader applications and appeal, pointing to the role of political change in the creative process. During her fellowship, Williamson will examine collections of assistive technologies, such as wheelchairs and prostheses, and materials related to the universal design movement, which aims for the ideal design for the broadest spectrum of users.
Damon Yarnell (2008), Ph.D. candidate, University of Pennsylvania
Damon Yarnell’s research looks at an often-overlooked aspect of mass production at the Ford Motor Company in the early 20th century—the role of purchasing agents in the company’s system of procurement, quality control, inventory, shipping, and materials handling. Not only did the assembly line facilitate an exceptional degree of internal control and efficiency, supplier relationships were complex and also essential for mass production. Yarnell will make use of the Museum’s extensive transportation history collections, including trade catalogs, early automobile periodicals, directories, and yearbooks, as well as the records of the J&B Manufacturing Company and the Warshaw Collection of Business Americana.
Tamar Zinguer (2002), Ph.D. candidate in the School of Architecture, Princeton University
Tamar Zinguer's dissertation investigates the ways in which construction toys have related to architecture and to the built environment. Case studies of four building toys—"Gifts" invented by Friedrich Froebel; "Richter'Anchor stones" by Otto and Gustav Lilienthal; "Erector Set" by Andrew Gilbert; and the several toys by Charles and Ray Eames—inform her research. These case studies show that architecture became the conduit of scientific principles from fields as diverse as mineralogy, zoology, chemistry, and computer science. With different materials, the toys have reflected new means of production, and conveyed their authors' educational aims through the construction of space combined with scientific principles. Drawing on an investigation of these toy inventors and the artifacts themselves, Zinguer seeks to illuminate how architectural playthings have reflected stylistic inclinations, incorporated technological changes in their systems of construction, and how these inventors influenced and were influenced by theories of play and education.
Harry Allen (2004), freelance journalist
Harry Allen is interested in end-user modifications of computer games as a form of customization or tinkering. In his project, “Architecture and Design in Quake III Arena: Maps & Levels,” Allen compares modifications of computer software by gamers to other innovative endeavors, such as hot rod customization and jazz improvisation. Allen hopes to identify similarities among these seemingly unrelated activities to better understand human efforts to create unique and individualized forms.
Jeffrey Matsuura (2007), counsel, Alliance Law Group
Jeffrey Matsuura explores the development of trans-Atlantic cables at the Anglo-American Telegraph Company as a case study on the role of innovation in large, complex, international ventures. His examination is intended to identify the legal and commercial strategies applied by the Anglo-American Telegraph Company in order to facilitate the development, protection, and use of the intellectual property, equipment, systems, personnel, and financial resources necessary to complete the first trans-Atlantic undersea communications cable system. Matsuura seeks to compare his analysis of these historical sources to the strategies applied by modern companies engaged in major international projects that relay on innovative new technologies today.
Jakob Messerli (2001), director, Deutsches Uhrenmuseum
The introduction of the "American System" of mass production in the American clockmaking industry at the beginning of the 19th century is accepted as an important step, not only for the mass-production of timepieces, but for industrial development in general. German clockmaking in the Black Forest had long-dominated the global market for clocks, but was slow to adopt the "American System." Surprisingly, little is known about the relationship between the American clock industry and German clockmaking in the Black Forest during this period. In this research project, Jakob Messerli plans a comparative study of Black Forest and American wooden-movement clocks. Who were the German clock peddlers who came to America? What do Black Forest and American wooden clock movements have in common? What effect did the "American System" have on clockmaking in the Black Forest? These are the questions Messerli seeks to answer during his fellowship. His research will contribute to an upcoming exhibit on this theme at the Deutsches Uhrenmuseum.
Fred Nadis (2007), associate editor, ABC-Clio
Fred Nadis is studying the engineering and design innovators behind America’s early rollercoasters and theme rides beginning in the 19th century. His project focuses on two separate streams of innovation that shared a common source in 19th-century “scenic railways”—rides in which passengers traveled through artificially-enhanced landscapes. These scenic railways led to both to modern-day theme rides and high speed rollercoasters. While the technology of these rides was grounded in multiple patents, the engineers who designed them were remarkably creative, often improvising the design of the ride on site. The legacy of these inventors remains an important vernacular architectural and cultural form.
Robert O’Harrow (2012), author and columnist, The Washington Post
Robert O’Harrow will perform research for his forthcoming popular biography of General Montgomery C. Meigs entitled A Soul on Fire (to be publshed by Free Press, an imprint of Simon & Schuster). Besides his critical role as quartermaster general of the Union Army during the Civil War (and as a Smithsonian regent), Meigs was also the engineer responsible for several Washington, DC, landmarks, including the Potomac River aqueduct that still provides water to the district, the Capitol dome, and the old Pension Bureau building, which now houses the National Building Museum.
Susan Sherwood (2003), independent scholar and executive director, Center for Technology and Innovation, Binghamton, NY
Working with the Broome County Historical Society in Binghamton, NY, Susan Sherwood seeks to document the industrial history of New York State's "Southern Tier." She is studying the development of photographic and chemical technologies at Ansco-Afga-GAF in the 20th century. Her analysis of the GAF collections at the Smithsonian and the Broome County Historical Society is informed by her oral history interviews with retired chemists from the company. By tracking how methods of innovation developed over time through changing economic conditions, Sherwood's research promises to contribute to our knowledge of how innovation "hot spots" develop in specific geographic regions.
Through other external sources of funding, these scholars and practitioners spent time in residence as guests of the Lemelson Center:
Lucy Cameron (2015), manager, Digital Economy and Productivity, Govt. of Queensland (Aus.)
Project: “The role of government policy in building an innovation hot-spot”
Martha Diaz (2013), director, Hip-Hop Education Center, New York University and Hip-Hop Scholar in Residence, Schomburg Center, New York Public Library
2013-2014 Goldman-Sachs Senior Fellow
Project: “Hip Hop 4.0: Forty Years of Creativity, Education, Community, and Legacy”
Young Kyoung Min (2015), project officer for STEAM Education, Korea Foundation for the Advancement of Science & Creativity (KOFAC)
KOFAC Professional Development Fellow
Project: “How to inspire girls to be Women STEM inventors or innovators”
Jacob Ward (2016), Ph.D. candidate, History/STS, University College London and Science Museum London
Arts & Humanities Research Council (UK) Fellow
Project: "Networks within Networks: Connecting Transatlantic Histories of Telecommunications from 1960"
Frank Wilson (2013), neurologist and author
2013-2014 Goldman-Sachs Senior Fellow
Project: “Research and Development of Hands-On Museum Activities”