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Displaying 21 - 30 from the 59 total records
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Alfred, the First Continental Flagship 1775-1778
John J. McCusker
19 pages, 13 figures, 1 table
1973 (Date of Issue: 25 June 1973)
Number 20, Smithsonian Studies in History and Technology
DOI: 10.5479/si.00810258.20.1
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Alfred, as one of the first ships of the Continental Navy of the United Colonies, as the flagship of the first American fleet, as the first ship to hoist the Grand Union Flag of the United Colonies, and the first command ship of an American amphibious invasion of enemy territory, played no small role in the winning of independence for the United States. Her place is secure in our national heritage.

Thirteen-Star Flags: Keys to Identification
Grace Rogers Cooper
62 pages, 25 figures
1973 (Date of Issue: 8 November 1973)
Number 21, Smithsonian Studies in History and Technology
DOI: 10.5479/si.00810258.21.1
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The first time I had reason to question the date of a thirteen-star flag was in 1947. The one examined was stitched by machine and, because of that, obviously was not an eighteenth-century flag. The stars were arranged in a 3-2-3-2-3 arrangement. Knowing very little about documenting flags at that time, I questioned the then curator of history, Theodore T. Belote, whether a flag could be dated by the star arrangement. In discussing the more popular arrangements, Mr. Belote stated that the “thirteen-star flag was used as a small boat ensign from 1795 to about 1916.” Currently, in trying to document his statement for publication, I found that this was one of those facts that is “known,” but difficult to establish positively. In 1970, Captain Edmund A. Crenshaw, Jr., vice president of the Germantown Historical Society and curator of its museum in Philadelphia, wrote in answer to my query: “That type 'thirteen-star flag' was used for smaller vessels, torpedo boats, submarines and ships boats as far back as I can remember.” In his letter of December 3, 1970, when Captain Cranshaw was seventy-nine years old, he continued, “... it was stopped by Franklin Roosevelt for some reason.” Since Franklin Roosevelt was assistant secretary of the navy in 1916, the year may be fairly accurate; however, the observation of Dr. Harold Langley, present curator of naval history in the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of History and Technology, is that individual captains may have continued to use the thirteen-star flag. Dr. Langley also pointed out that manufacturers who had filled navy contracts may have continued to manufacture these flags after 1916. The United States Navy, however, considers that officially it has followed each Flag Act using the number of stars representing the number of states in the Union, and cites a regulation issued in 1890 reaffirming this. Nevertheless, there is an Executive Order (number 1637) issued by President William Howard Taft and dated October 29, 1912, which states:

Boat Flags: In order that the identity of the stars in flags when carried by small boats belonging to the Government may be preserved, the custom holding in the Navy for many years, of thirteen (13) stars for boat flags, is hereby approved.

This confirms that the thirteen-star flag was in use through 1912 and probably longer.

History of the Comstock Patent Medicine Business and Dr. Morse's Indian Root Pills
Robert B. Shaw
49 pages, 28 figures
1972 (Date of Issue: 26 May 1972)
Number 22, Smithsonian Studies in History and Technology
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For nearly a century a conspicuous feature of the small riverside village of Morristown, in northern New York State, was the W. H. Comstock factory, better known as the home of the celebrated Dr. Morse's Indian Root Pills. This business never grew to be more than a modest undertaking in modern industrial terms, and amid the congestion of any large city its few buildings straddling a branch railroad and its work force of several dozens at most would have been little noticed, but in its rural setting the enterprise occupied a prominent role in the economic life of the community for over ninety years. Aside from the omnipresent forest and dairy industries, it represented the only manufacturing activity for miles around and was easily the largest single employer in its village, as well as the chief recipient and shipper of freight at the adjacent railroad station. For some years, early in the present century, the company supplied a primitive electric service to the community, and the Comstock Hotel, until it was destroyed by fire, served as the principal village hostelry.

But the influence of this business was by no means strictly local. For decades thousands of boxes of pills and bottles of elixir, together with advertising circulars and almanacs in the millions, flowed out of this remote village to druggists in thousands of communities in the United States and Canada, in Latin America, and in the Orient. And Dr. Morse's Indian Root Pills and the other remedies must have been household names wherever people suffered aches and infirmities. Thus Morristown, notwithstanding its placid appearance, played an active role in commerce and industry throughout the colorful patent-medicine era.

Today, the Indian Root Pill factory stands abandoned and forlorn—its decline and demise brought on by an age of more precise medical diagnoses and the more stringent enforcement of various food and drug acts. After abandonment, the factory was ransacked by vandals; and records, documents, wrappers, advertising circulars, pills awaiting packaging, and other effects were thrown down from the shelves and scattered over the floors. This made it impossible to recover and examine the records systematically. The former proprietors of the business, however, had for some reason—perhaps sheer inertia—apparently preserved all of their records for over a century, storing them in the loftlike attic over the packaging building. Despite their careless treatment, enough records were recovered to reconstruct most of the history of the Comstock enterprise and to cast new light upon the patent-medicine industry of the United States during its heyday.

The Stone Money of Yap: A Numismatic Survey
Cora Lee C. Gillilland
75 pages, 33 figures, 1 graph, 1 table
1975 (Date of Issue: 23 October 1975)
Number 23, Smithsonian Studies in History and Technology
DOI: 10.5479/si.00810258.23.1
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This synopsis of the history and role of rai or stone money of Yap within the culture of the islands has been drawn from the accounts of early travelers, anthropologists, and administrators in the Western Pacific. The descriptions, quarrying practices, and shipping methods of these stones are discussed, as well as some of the “myths” that have grown up around these large primitive media of exchange. Early and more recent “exchange values” of the stones are traced within the islands, as well as in the international numismatic world.

The location and pertinent data of 149 pieces of stone money removed from Yap and now in public and private collections throughout the world are provided within the table for reference and comparison of sizes, dates and history of accession. Sixty-four stones are illustrated, providing one of the most thorough studies of Yapese rai now available.

Wheels and Wheeling: The Smithsonian Cycle Collection
Smith Hempstone Oliver and Donald H. Berkebile
104 pages
1974 (Date of Issue: 23 April 1974)
Number 24, Smithsonian Studies in History and Technology
DOI: 10.5479/si.00810258.24.1
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The bicycle, with a history that spans nearly two centuries, has frequently been looked upon in the United States as a child's plaything. Recent trends seem to indicate that Americans may come to follow the example of those other nations where the bicycle is an important means of transportation, extensively used by businessmen and workers traveling to and from their jobs. In the United States, during the late 19th century, the cycle's greatest use was likewise among adults, and this use sparked the early good-roads movement. Of equal importance was the role of the bicycle in demonstrating the possibilities of independent personal transportation, thus creating a demand that facilitated the introduction of the automobile.

The first known bicycle was shown by the Comte de Sivrac, who in 1791 was seen riding a two-wheel “wooden horse” in the gardens of the Palais Royal in Paris. Called a célérifère, the machine had two rigidly mounted wheels, so that it was incapable of being steered. To change direction, it was necessary to lift, drag, or jump the front wheel to one side. In 1793 the name was changed to vélocifère, and, as these machines became increasingly popular among the sporting set of Paris, clubs were formed and races were run along the Champs Elysées.

At some time during the first decade of the 19th century the vélocifère lost favor temporarily until, in 1816, Nicéphore Niepce of Chalons, better known as the “Father of Photography,” demonstrated an improved type in the Luxembourg Gardens. Niepce's machine, still not steerable, was considerably lighter, and the larger wheels helped smooth the ride and permitted greater speed.

A revolutionary improvement in the vélocifère occurred in 1817, when Charles, Baron von Drais, of Sauerbrun, devised a front wheel capable of being steered. As chief forester for the Grand Duke of Baden, von Drais found the machine useful in traversing the forest land under his supervision. He also gave it a padded saddle, and an armrest in front of his body, which assisted him in exerting force against the ground. Granted a patent in 1818, he took his Draisienne to Paris, where it was again patented and acquired the name vélocipède, a term that was to continue in use until about 1869 when the word “bicycle” came into use.

American Single Locomotives and the “Pioneer”
John H. White, Jr.
50 pages, 52 figures, 2 tables
1973 (Date of Issue: 19 September 1973)
Number 25, Smithsonian Studies in History and Technology
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In the mid-nineteenth century there was a renewed interest in the light, single-axle locomotives which were proving so very successful for passenger traffic. These engines were built in limited number by nearly every well-known maker, and among the few remaining is the six-wheel Pioneer, on display in the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of History and Technology. This locomotive is a true representation of a light passenger locomotive of 1851 and a historic relic of the mid-nineteenth century.

A Report of the Mohawk-Hudson Area Survey
Robert M. Vogel, editor
210 pages, 141 figures, 2 tables
1973 (Date of Issue: 25 September 1973)
Number 26, Smithsonian Studies in History and Technology
DOI: 10.5479/si.00810258.26.1
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This report, a composite publication, has been prepared with two main objectives in view. Part One constitutes a description of the Mohawk-Hudson Area Survey itself: an account of its rationale, its organization, and the mechanics of its conduct. These matters, some of which may appear obvious and others trivial, when taken together should be a useful guide for future surveys, as well as constitute a record of the summer's activities.

Part Two contains the records of the fifteen structures that were covered by the Survey: copies of the measured drawings of the six primary structures that were measured and drawn, selected photographs of all the structures and the historical accounts of each. These accounts are not intended, in most cases, to be the final word on the development of the particular structure, but rather to be “skeleton” histories serving as a starting point for further research. Exceptions to this are the accounts of the Delaware Aqueduct, the Troy Gaslight Company Gasholder House, and the Watervliet Arsenal Cast-Iron Storehouse, which are believed to be as complete as possible on the basis of known sources. Although several histories of Troy, Albany, and some of the other immediate areas exist, most were written in the nineteenth century and treat industry and technology only incidentally. An all-inclusive history of the Mohawk-Hudson area's industrial development to the present day is bady needed. Nothing would be more gratifying to the Survey's participants than to have this study inspire an analytical project of that nature.

In a seizure of optimism, I began the preparation of this report anticipating that it could be completed in two or three weeks. The grossness of this miscalculation soon became clear, particularly to R. Carole Huberman of the Historic American Engineering Record staff, who undertook the editing and reconciling of the historical accounts. That unrewarding task occupied her for the entire summer and fall of 1970. Further, there appeared many gaps in the collected information, requiring her to conduct a substantial amount of additional research. Ms. Huberman has also contributed heavily to the general arrangement of the report, which, with her other contributions, has added enormously to its clarity and usefulness.

I owe an especial debt of gratitude to two members of the Smithsonian Institution Press staff: Joan Horn, the Report's copy editor, and Series Production Manager Charles L. Shaffer, its designer. The manuscript put into their able hands was so complex, so far from being the routine bundle of copy with a few neat illustrations, that only their quite extraordinary talents have made possible its translation from what would otherwise have been an editorial disaster into what I hope and trust is a cohesive, intelligible publication. If it is neither of these, the fault certainly is not theirs.

Robert M. Vogel

Smithsonian Institution

City of Washington

November 1972

Pianos in the Smithsonian Institution
Helen R. Hollis
47 pages, 23 figures
1973 (Date of Issue: 31 December 1973)
Number 27, Smithsonian Studies in History and Technology
DOI: 10.5479/si.00810258.27.1
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This booklet will serve as an introduction to the important collection of pianos in the Smithsonian Institution. As yet no catalog has been compiled and the collection is little known, but it is one of the largest collections of instruments of this family in existence. A complete list of the keyboard collection is found in A Checklist of Keyboard Instruments at the Smithsonian Institution. It includes the predecessors of the piano, i.e., clavichords and harpsichords, along with a complete list of the pianos. The checklist is available from the Division of Musical Instruments, National Museum of History and Technology, Smithsonian Institution. The selected examples discussed and illustrated herein represent many important stages in the development of the modern piano from its early beginnings.

Water Current Meters in the Smithsonian Collections of the National Museum of History and Technology
Arthur H. Frazier
95 pages, 94 figures
1974 (Date of Issue: 30 December 1974)
Number 28, Smithsonian Studies in History and Technology
DOI: 10.5479/si.00810258.28.1
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Water current meters are the basic instruments used in connection with stream gaging, the art of measuring and maintaining a continuous record of the volume, in cubic feet (or cubic meters) per second, of water flowing in rivers. The history of both that art and these instruments forms a large part of this study. The contributions of men like Marcus Vitruvius, Hero of Alexandria, Leonardo da Vinci, Benedetto Castelli, Sir Isaac Newton, and a large group of eminent modern hydrographers are discussed.

Special attention is given to the type of current meters built for use on rivers such as those in the collection of the Smithsonian Institution. It does not include meters of the type featured in the collection at the Institut Oceanographique, Musée de Monaco, most of which were developed especially for measuring ocean currents. Whenever possible, the men responsible for introducing each new design are also discussed.

Samuel Colt's Submarine Battery: The Secret and the Enigma
Philip K. Lundeberg
90 pages, 43 figures
1974 (Date of Issue: 30 December 1974)
Number 29, Smithsonian Studies in History and Technology
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Samuel Colt's sustained efforts to secure the adoption of his Submarine Battery system as a major element in the coastal defenses of the United States have long constituted an obscure yet potentially significant episode in the technological development of undersea warfare. Stimulated not only by apparent threat of renewed British naval assaults on the Eastern seaboard early in the 1840s, but also by notable and well-publicized advances by British military engineers in galvanic underwater demolition techniques, the development of Colt's novel harbor defense system was supported by limited Congressional appropriations during 1841-44, as well as by the encouragement of Samuel F. B. Morse and John William Draper at the University of the City of New York. Colt secured no comparable assistance from the National Institute for the Promotion of Science, of which he was an early member.

The New England inventor's dogged secrecy regarding the precise character of his Submarine Battery, which he successfully maintained throughout four public demonstrations at Washington and New York, ultimately alienated cognizant military professionals, whose guidance or active participation Colt deliberately eschewed in refining his distinctive single and dual observer systems for mine firing control. Notwithstanding the apparent success of his climactic demonstration at the Washington Navy Yard in April 1844, the precise details of which yet remain open to conjecture, Colt was unable to secure War or Navy Department support either for the adoption of his galvanic mine system for coastal defense purposes or for Congressional payment of a contingent premium for the secret of his Submarine Battery.

Displaying 21 - 30 from the 59 total records