Civil War Defenses of Washington Fort Plans Now Available Online

The Cartographic Branch holds thousands of drawings, plans, and maps relating to forts, fortifications, and other military structures. These can be found in a variety of record groups and series, including RG 77 Fortification Map File (NAID 305749), RG 77 Miscellaneous Forts File (NAID 305806), RG 92 Post and Reservation Maps (NAID 305818), RG 92 … Continue reading Civil War Defenses of Washington Fort Plans Now Available Online

Highlights from the War Department Map Collection

The Cartographic Branch is digitizing the Record Group 77, War Department Map Collection (NAID 305808), which consists of maps of both the United States and foreign areas. At this time, only the maps relating to the United States have been digitized, although we hope to digitized the foreign maps in the future. The United States … Continue reading Highlights from the War Department Map Collection

Lighting the Way: RG 26 Lighthouse Plans & Maps Now Digitized

Lighting the way for centuries, lighthouses continue to serve as a navigational aid for sailors at sea or on inland waterways. Lighthouses warn mariners of hazards such as reefs and rocks, guide ships to safe harbors, and help sailors establish their position. The Cartographic branch of the National Archives holds numerous drawings and maps of … Continue reading Lighting the Way: RG 26 Lighthouse Plans & Maps Now Digitized

Fire Up the Horses and Let ’em Run! Early Representations of Horsepower from RG 241: Restored Patents

Horsepower!  We hear this common phrase everyday associated with everything from cars to lawn mowers to available human capital.  It's all about power and the power to get things done.  While today the term "horse power" typically refers to the power of an engine in a car or truck and is a single, compound word, … Continue reading Fire Up the Horses and Let ’em Run! Early Representations of Horsepower from RG 241: Restored Patents

Summer Road Trip 2019: The Other Fortification in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina

Leaving Raleigh, North Carolina, we head southwest down to Charleston, South Carolina, for the next stop on the Summer Road Trip.  While the first thing that might spring to mind about Charleston is Fort Sumter, that is not the only fortification sitting in Charleston Harbor, though it is the only one that you can still … Continue reading Summer Road Trip 2019: The Other Fortification in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina

Holdings Highlight! RG 167: Submissions to the National Inventors Council

Every so often, I come across items in our holdings which are so delightfully bizarre that they have to be shared.  The drawings below come from RG 167: Submissions to the Inventor's Council.  This group was founded in 1940 as part of the Department of Commerce's Office of Technical Services.  The intention was that this … Continue reading Holdings Highlight! RG 167: Submissions to the National Inventors Council

Cartographic Records Relating to African American History

February is African American History Month. All of our Special Media branches hold a variety of records relating to African American history. Today, we are featuring some related records from the Cartographic Branch. The above plan shows the layout for the Freeman's Village that was established on the estate of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, … Continue reading Cartographic Records Relating to African American History

Recalling the Devastating Patent Office Fire of 1836

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

Just in Time for Halloween: Creepy Utility Patent Drawings!

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!

What’s In a Name? American Vessels Called Enterprise

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