December 15th marks the anniversary of the first of several major fires to impact the United States Patent Office. In 1836, the Patent Office was being housed in the Blodget Hotel in Washington, D.C. Employees of the patent office stored firewood in the basement near where they also disposed of hot ashes and, during the … Continue reading Recalling the Devastating Patent Office Fire of 1836
From time to time, we find things among the archives holdings that are so unexpected that we just have to share them! The following images come from a series of maps that are currently in the process of being digitized to be added to the catalog. The maps below all contain examples of doodles and … Continue reading Oddments From the U.S. Series of RG 77: Civil Works Map Files
With Halloween just around the corner, it seems like an excellent time to highlight some of the creepier Utility Patent Drawings lurking in the holdings of the National Archives. These come from Record Group 241. Enjoy! For more creepy patents, check out Corbin Apkin's Halloween Patent post from last year!
This Saturday, September 8th, marks the 52nd anniversary of the debut of the “Star Trek” series on television. For over two hundred years, ships called Enterprise have been helping us “Boldly Go”. From vessels that sailed the Great Lakes of the United States in the War of 1812 to the most decorated ship of World … Continue reading What’s In a Name? American Vessels Called Enterprise
National Lighthouse Day is celebrated annually in the United States on August 7th. This holiday marks the day in 1789 when Congress approved an act to establish and support lighthouses, buoys, beacons, and public piers. Since that time, the United States has constructed more than a thousand lighthouses, light stations, range lights, and pier head lights. … Continue reading Shining a Light on Montauk Point Lighthouse in Honor of Lighthouse Day
Summertime seems to have been created to be three months of time to play, rest, relax, and, in general, do the things that make us happy. In the years between 1898 and 1908, inventors were very creative in their efforts to make summertime spectacular, interesting, and somewhat bizarre! So, whether you prefer to spend your … Continue reading Ah, Summertime! You Have the Best Utility Patents!
Sometimes, the most extraordinary maps can be “hiding” in plain sight, passed by, overlooked because they are a bit plain on the surface. However, once you know the real story behind the map, it can take on a whole different meaning and look completely new and exciting. One such map that fits this description can … Continue reading Hiding in Plain Sight: The FDR Interstate Highway Map
Under the Valuation Act of 1913, the federal government of the United States directed the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) to assess the value of railroad property located inside the United States. This information was to be used to determine rates for transportation of freight via those rail lines. This law was an amendment to the … Continue reading I’ve Been Working On the Railroad, and You Can, Too!
Of all the record groups in the Cartographic Department's holdings, one of the most interesting and varied is RG 77. This record group, with its myriad of smaller series, holds many Revolutionary War, Civil War and Civil War-era maps, (both printed and manuscript), drawings and schematics of forts, posts, and reservations, and original designs for … Continue reading Boston, 1775: A City Under Siege!
Among the many treasures tucked away in the Archives is a series of maps known simply as “The Moll Atlas” (RG 76, Series 30). While the name might not initially scream “excitement”, the Moll Atlas is breathtaking for not only its complexity, but the sheer beauty of the maps themselves. Unfortunately, this is not the … Continue reading The Moll Atlas: How the World Appeared in 1721