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Roebling's Delaware & Hudson Canal Aqueducts
Robert M. Vogel
45 pages, 57 figures
1971 (Date of Issue: 29 April 1971)
Number 10, Smithsonian Studies in History and Technology
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The nineteenth-century American civil engineer, John A. Roebling, is best remembered for his crowning work, Brooklyn Bridge, built to his design by his son, Washington, following the elder Roebling's death in 1869. Although an engineering monument of the highest order, Brooklyn Bridge Must—if historical justice is to be done—share its notoriety with a small, relatively obscure suspension bridge that was Roebling's second work, and is his earlist still standing. Moreover, in all likelihood, the Delaware Aqueduct is the oldest existing American suspension bridge and may well be the oldest existing suspension bridge in the world (that retains its original principal elements). The sole survivor and largest of four suspension aqueducts erected by Roebling between 1847 and 1850 to carry the Delaware & Hudson Canal over rivers, the Delaware Aqueduct stands today only because of its strategic location. Following abandonment of the canal in 1898, the structure was converted to a private highway bridge, which function it continues to serve, spanning the Delaware above Port Jervis.

Small Arms Ammunition at the International Exposition Philadelphia, 1876
Berkeley R. Lewis
68 pages, 76 figures, 45 plates
1972 (Date of Issue: 11 August 1972)
Number 11, Smithsonian Studies in History and Technology
DOI: 10.5479/si.00810258.11.1
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As the hundredth anniversary of the independence of the United States approached, extensive plans were made to celebrate that occasion by an International Exhibition to be held in 1876 in Philadelphia. A major consideration was the desire to show the world the technological development which had put this country in the front in many aspects of design and production. The Civil War had provided a tremendous impetus to new inventions and methods in the field of arms and ammunition. The United States patent system, the War, and the expanding economy combined to produce a spate of new ideas not achieved elsewhere at any time. The military forces of other countries had been interested observers during the Civil War, and thereafter moved rapidly to re-arm their troops with the newly devised breechloaders. The ideas for these, developed in this country, together with the know-how for their mass production, focused attention on the Centennial Exhibition. The big interest was military, but the expanding West assured firearms manufacturers a ready civilian market for new products. In 1866, all foreign governments realized that they had to change from muzzle loading to breech loading firearms. Having many thousand stands of old muzzle loaders on hand their first immediate preoccupation was to convert these to breechloaders. Literally hundreds of ideas were proposed to make such conversions, usually accomplished by cutting off a short piece at the breech, screwing on a new breech incorporating some sort of devise for opening and closing it easily and securely. Most of these systems were rather clumsy, not adaptable to multishot capability, and the resulting arms were at once obsolescent because of their large calibers. Some of these designs, however, were very sound and have served for a long and useful duration, e.g., Remington rolling block, Sharps drop block, Peabody, Ballard, Morse. The last had features still used in most firearms, such as enclosed cartridge head, rebounding firing pin, and spring loaded hook extractors. In the ten year period 1866 to 1876, inventors had been very active in designing new systems not inhibited by having to start with an old gun. At the beginning of this period there were practically no standardized cartridges.

Paper cartridges with powder and ball had been satisfactory for muzzleloading weapons, but they were fragile and subject to damage from moisture. More seriously, they were not adaptable to breechloaders, as they provided little or no seal for the joint between breech and barrel. Hence development of breechloaders and repeaters was directly tied to availability of suitable ammunition. Designers of effective early breechloaders had to come up with a practical cartridge too. It is still a truism that design of a good weapon must be concurrent with that of its ammunition.

The War Department display at the Centennial Exhibition was an important part of the material shown by the Executive Branch. Springfield Armory and the Frankford Arsenal each presented exhibits and actual sections of their shops in which visitors could watch rifles and ammunition being made. The ammunition production line of 19 machines constituted the first public display of automation as we now know it. In the official report on the Exhibition it was stated, “… no place seemed to arrest more the attention of the people, nor to hold them longer in contemplation, than that occupied by this machinery.”1

The Ordnance Department, U.S. Army, at the International Exhibition, 1876. 2 January 1877 letter of Lt. Col. S. C. Lyford, Representative of the War Dept. p. V. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 1884.

By 1876, design and production of small arms ammunition had been rather well formalized. Further improvements were to be in detail and in process refinements rather than in major concepts. Smokeless powder, not then available, would later extend the capability of the cartridge, but the mechanical aspects had been worked out. Earlier breechloaders often used special cartridges not adaptable to any other arm. The field was wide open in the 1860s and many designers and inventors sought to devise a cartridge that would combine good ignition with a satisfactory seal at the breech. The National Armory at Springfield, Massachusetts, and Frankford Arsenal at Philadelphia worked intensively to these ends, concurrently devising machines for producing the cartridges they needed. The Services constantly sought flatter trajectory, which required smaller calibers with longer cases in order to limit the recoil to acceptable limits. More powder produced the required higher velocity, but the bullet then had to be smaller as the product of these two is involved in the recoil calculation. In order to draw the longer cases that were called for by the military requirements, drawing and annealing techniques had to be perfected. Often by the time a requirement was met, the Services again raised the performance level specified. Many of the ordnance officers and civilian employees at the arsenal suggested new approaches, most of which they did not bother to patent. Often civilian inventors here and abroad saw and copied these designs and took out patents in their own names. Though the gun design field was nearly pre-empted by civilians, the opposite was true in cartridges. Frankford Arsenal led the world in design and production of small arms ammunition.

Feedback Mechanisms in the Historical Collections of the National Museum of History and Technology
Otto Mayr
133 pages, 145 figures
1971 (Date of Issue: 20 July 1971)
Number 12, Smithsonian Studies in History and Technology
DOI: 10.5479/si.00810258.12.1
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Among the seemingly endless variety of machinery that might be listed under the heading automatic control, feedback mechanisms stand out as a distinct group because, although differing widely in outward appearance, they all function according to a single principle. The significance of the principle of feedback is all the greater as it is not limited to technology. Since 1948, when Norbert Wiener adopted it as one of the unifying concepts of the new science of cybernetics, it has come to be regarded as an invaluable tool in such diverse disciplines as biology, economics, and sociology.

The interdisciplinary validity, for which the concept is admired, has been anticipated in technology at a much earlier period, when feedback was employed to solve problems of control, for example, in the mechanical, hydraulic, thermal, and electrical media. It might be of interest therefore to outline the history of feedback control by means of cataloging—systematically and in chronological order—the historical feedback devices contained in the collections of one of the world's great technological museums, the National Museum of History and Technology of the Smithsonian Institution.

This catalog is limited to feedback mechanisms; other forms of automatic control, for example open-loop and programmed control, are disregarded without further explanation. The material to be described has definite boundaries also in space and time. In space, it is limited to the collections of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of History and Technology, collections which are partly exhibited and partly stored in various storage spaces; in time, it is limited to items that can be described, at least by lenient standards, as historical. How old must an item be to qualify? Objects that are being mass-produced and commercially marketed at the present are clearly inadmissible. On the other hand, certain developments—such as in the field of computers—may have to be considered historical even if they have occurred relatively recently. A cutoff date convenient for our purposes then seems to be the end of World War II, a date we will disregard, however, when appropriate.

In an effort to make visible the more important lines of development of historical feedback devices, the material is presented in the form of a continuous narrative. This has led to an arrangement which is pragmatic rather than strictly systematic. Sometimes feedback devices are classified according to the controlled variable (e.g., speed, pressure, temperature); sometimes it has been more expedient to list them under the branch of technology where they were employed (e.g., automotive or textile). The necessary cross-references will be provided by the index.

To describe individual objects, we have to consider two kinds of information: First, information concerning its external history has been presented, at least in concise form, as far as available, but the scope of this catalog did not permit the additional research required to close numerous gaps. Second, complicated technical objects such as we deal with here require technical description. Readers who may feel that too much space is devoted to purely technical matters should take into account that the historical significance of the objects cataloged here lies precisely in the technological ideas represented by them.

The sources used and references to additional material have been indicated as usual in footnotes. Further information may be found at two general sources. One is the archives of the individual divisions of the Museum. For access to these, researchers should consult the respective curators directly. The other concerns the patent models which form a considerable part of this material. The patented inventions are described in detail in the patent specifications, and further material may be found in the case files of the United States Patent Office and the National Archives.

The imaginative reader may miss in this catalog some items that he would have expected to find. This may be due to any one of three reasons: his definition of feedback may differ from the author's; the item may have been accidentally overlooked; or the item may actually not be represented in the collection. With regard to definition, the following practice has been followed. At the start, feedback was defined once and for all; thereafter only devices thus defined were accepted, others were disregarded without discussion. In a few cases, where whole groups of relevant objects were excluded for special reasons, as in the cases of safety valves, float-feed carburetors, or electronic devices, this was explained at the appropriate places. Second, feedback devices are rendered elusive by the interdisciplinary nature of the concept. Feedback is employed in many disguises, and it is represented in practically all divisions of the Museum. In spite of a serious effort to make this catalog exhaustive, it is only too possible that one or another item may have escaped the cataloging. Finally, the collection itself must not be expected to be complete. Feedback devices usually are inconspicuously attached to some larger machine or process which they have the function to regulate. Having rarely been collected for their own sake, they are represented unevenly. Our collection, for example, contains more than a hundred speed governors but only a few historical temperature controllers. All items listed have actually been identified in the collections.

Each individual object is identified by two numbers, the catalog number (NMHT) and the accession number. The catalog numbers are assigned individually to specimens by each particular Museum division according to systems which vary between different divisions. The accession numbers indicate the accession files in the Registrar's office and are uniform for all of the Museum. The accession files contain all correspondence and other documents relating to the transaction by which the specimen reached the Museum, often containing valuable detailed information. A single accession number may refer to more than one object. As a help in finding the objects cataloged herein, we have included a Location Guide at the back of the book.

The Consul General's Shanghai Postal Agency 1867-1907
Peter L. Koffsky
46 pages, 7 figures
1972 (Date of Issue: 1 March 1972)
Number 13, Smithsonian Studies in History and Technology
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This paper is the result of eight weeks' research, largely in the materials at the National Archives, with the purpose of reconstructing the historical development of the United States postal service in China, 1867-1907. Most of the data was found in the diplomatic and consular records of the Department of State, and consisted of largely isolated pieces of data, making generalizations difficult. Further investigation of this service is highly desirable, should additional materials become available.

This work was done as part of the Smithsonian Institution Undergraduate Research Assistantship Program during the summer of 1966, under the direct supervision of Mr. Carl H. Scheele, Associate Curator in Charge of the Division of Philately and Postal History. His suggestions and encouragement are gratefully acknowledged. Thanks are also owing to Mr. Arthur Hecht and Mr. Ralph Huss of the National Archives, for their inestimable help in locating the references needed.

Political Cartoons in the 1848 Election Campaign
Anne Marie Serio
21 pages, 9 figures
1972 (Date of Issue: 18 October 1972)
Number 14, Smithsonian Studies in History and Technology
DOI: 10.5479/si.00810258.14.1
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The Harry T. Peters “America On Stone” Lithography Collection in the Smithsonian Institution contains over 150 lithographed election cartoons and caricatures. These cartoons, dating from the mid-nineteenth century before newspapers carried editorial cartoons, are directly tied to the events of the time and reflect the opinions of the general public as well as of those who drew and published them. Nine of these cartoons were issued during the election of 1848. This study discusses these cartoons and their interrelationship with the personalities and issues of the campaign. These cartoons add a further dimension to the history of the election.

Girard Estate Coal Lands in Pennsylvania, 1801-1884
John N. Hoffman
86 pages, 39 figures
1972 (Date of Issue: 29 December 1972)
Number 15, Smithsonian Studies in History and Technology
DOI: 10.5479/si.00810258.15.1
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This monograph traces the historical development and consolidation of tracts of land on the frontier of Pennsylvania in the late eighteenth century. The tracts under discussion were a part of a land grant given to William Penn by King Charles II in 1681, and the proprietorship remained in the Penn family until 1775.

Early land promoters such as Robert Morris and John Nicholson, plagued by financial problems, lack of inhabitants, and the reluctance of investors to participate in the development of their land schemes, eventually lost control and ownership of the large tracts which they had obtained.

The material presented in this study entails one such land venture which, in later years, became known as the Girard Estate, having been purchased by Stephen Girard in 1830. Literally a financial tycoon of the period, Girard is reputed to have been worth some seven-and-a-half million dollars at the time of his death.

To better understand the problems associated with the ownership of land in Pennsylvania during the colonial period, a short resumé of land rules and regulations during this time is presented as an introduction to this study.

Living Historical Farms Handbook
John T. Schlebecker and Gale E. Peterson
91 pages
1972 (Date of Issue: 24 April 1972)
Number 16, Smithsonian Studies in History and Technology
DOI: 10.5479/si.00810258.16.1
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On living historical farms men farm as they once did during some specific time in the past. The farms have tools and equipment like those once used, and they raise the same types of livestock and plants used during the specified era. The operations are carried on in the presence of visitors.

The interest in such farms has resulted in the forming of the Association for Living Historical Farms and Agricultural Museums to which individuals and institutions may belong. Many of those engaged in the creating of living historical farms are starting fresh, with neither personal nor institutional experience to guide them. This handbook is intended to provide them with information gained by the experiences of others. The information here contained may be useful in helping them get started or in keeping going.

Some of those interested in living historical farms have had considerable experience in museum work and for them much of the information in this handbook is elementary. Indeed, it is from their experiences that the handbook has been composed. Even these museologists, however, from time to time like to know the location of others engaged in efforts like their own. The lists of persons and of enterprises provided herein will facilitate direct contact and exchange of information.

Popular interest in living historical farms has generated a large quantity of inquiries which have been nearly impossible to handle in the regular course of business. This handbook may answer most of the commonly asked questions.

Agricultural Implements and Machines in the Collection of the National Museum of History and Technology
John T. Schlebecker
58 pages, 34 figures
1972 (Date of Issue: 18 August 1972)
Number 17, Smithsonian Studies in History and Technology
DOI: 10.5479/si.00810258.17.1
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Museums must collect and exhibit the tools, implements, and machines which farmers use in their business. These items, however, seldom make up the core of real agricultural activity. The catalog here presented shows something of the range of items that farmers use and that can be preserved and shown. The variety nearly equals the volume. Most museums try to avoid duplication. Even so, few museums manage to collect a continuous series of things showing any one line of development. The discontinuity of farm objects on hand virtually rules out the telling of a coherent and complete history of agriculture. Nevertheless, the museum can show something about the major technological developments in agriculture. The evolution of the plow, the reaper, or the tractor can be suggested even if not fully illustrated. Hitting the highlights has to suffice.

The full history of technological change also involves several social and economic conditions.

First, changes in implements, tools, and methods results from the accumulation of knowledge. Device builds upon device: first came the wheel, and then, much later, the tractor.

Secondly, the potential user of the device must feel a need for it. The new method or device not only must save him work but must clearly increase his well-being. If any device or change merely increases the wealth of someone else (a tax collector or a landlord for example), the farmer seldom will adopt the new technology.

Thirdly, since, at first, the new technology almost invariably costs more than the old, the user must have or be able to get the capital to buy and use the newer devices and methods.

Of these conditions for technological change, only the cumulative nature of the knowledge can be shown by the objects. Even here, however, missing objects make it possible to present only the most obvious changes, and then not all of them. Still, seeing the things once used—no matter how crude or how few—can sometimes help us understand the way changes took place. Also, this knowledge sometimes can help us guess how other changes will take place.

Bridgeport's Gothic Ornament: The Harral-Wheeler House
Anne Castrodale Golovin
27 pages, 21 figures
1972 (Date of Issue: 18 October 1972)
Number 18, Smithsonian Studies in History and Technology
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Imposing dwellings in the Gothic Revival style were among the most dramatic symbols of affluence in mid-nineteenth-century America. With the rise of industrialization in this period, an increasing number of men from humble beginnings attained wealth and prominence. It was important to them as well as to gentlemen of established means that their dwellings reflect an elevated social standing. The Harral-Wheeler residence in Bridgeport, Connecticut, was an eloquent proclamation of the success of its owners and the excellence of the architect Alexander Jackson Davis. Although the house no longer stands, one room, a selection of furniture, original architectural designs, architectural fragments, and other supporting drawings and photographs are now in the collections of the Smithsonian Institution. These remnants of Bridgeport's Gothic “ornament” serve as the basis for this study.

Keyed Bugles in the United States
Robert E. Eliason
44 pages, 22 figures
1972 (Date of Issue: 29 November 1972)
Number 19, Smithsonian Studies in History and Technology
DOI: 10.5479/si.00810258.19.1
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Keyed bugles are soprano brass instruments with side holes and keys like a clarinet or saxophone. They flourished for several decades after 1810 when the Royal Kent Bugle was patented, and before valved instruments became popular. Their melodic ability made possible the first brass bands in the United States, and these instruments remained popular in this country until the Civil War. During the 1840s and 1850s, many excellent players including the famous Ned Kendall amazed their listeners with intricate solos played on the bugle. Fine examples of American bugles with as many as 12 keys survive in several collections.

Displaying 11 - 20 from the 59 total records