Sewing Machines | Historical Trade Literature in Smithsonian Collections
IntroductionExplore the CollectionAbout the Smithsonian Trade Literature Collections

The Archives Center Collections
at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History

The Archives Center supports the mission of the National Museum of American History by preserving and providing access to documentary evidence of America's past. The Archives Center's collections complement the Museum's artifacts and are used for scholarly research, exhibitions, journalism, documentary productions, school programs, and other research and educational activities.We are delighted that information about the Archives Center materials related to sewing machines is reaching the public through the efforts of the Smithsonian Institution Libraries' "Sewing Machines: Historical Trade Literature in Smithsonian Institution Collections" project, both online and in this printed guide. The center holds two collections with substantial documentation of the history of the sewing machine.

Many Center collections document entrepreneurial activity in which invention and marketing are inextricably linked. The creation of nationally recognized brands and corporate identities as well as commercial depictions of gender, ethnicity, and other cultural categories are well represented in the holdings. Some 700 Archives Center collections occupy more than 9,500 feet of shelving in the American History building and in off-site storage locations. In addition to paper-based textual records, many Center collections contain photographs, motion picture films, videotapes, and sound recordings.

With few exceptions, Archives Center collections are acquired by donation, often in conjunction with the acquisition of related artifacts and in collaboration with the Museum's curatorial staff. Documentation projects -- including oral and video histories - actively create new research collections. The Museum's ability to acquire and care for artifacts and archival materials in all physical formats and to generate contemporary documentation gives it a unique capacity to record the complexity and richness of the American experience.

John Fleckner
Director, Archives Center
National Museum of American History
October 2000

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