Industry & Manufacturing
The Museum's collections document centuries of remarkable changes in products, manufacturing processes, and the role of industry in American life. In the bargain, they preserve artifacts of great ingenuity, intricacy, and sometimes beauty.
The carding and spinning machinery built by Samuel Slater about 1790 helped establish the New England textile industry. Nylon-manufacturing machinery in the collections helped remake the same industry more than a century later. Machine tools from the 1850s are joined by a machine that produces computer chips. Thousands of patent models document the creativity of American innovators over more than 200 years.
The collections reach far beyond tools and machines. Some 460 episodes of the television series Industry on Parade celebrate American industry in the 1950s. Numerous photographic collections are a reminder of the scale and even the glamour of American industry.
"Industry & Manufacturing - Overview" showing 1 items.
- The first step in catching a whale was throwing at least two sharp harpoons into its back, to ensure that the whaleboat was securely fastened to its prey. Harpoon shafts were made of soft wrought iron, so that they would bend and not break off when twisted, which risked losing the wounded whale.
- A line at the bottom of the harpoon’s wooden handle attached it to the whaleboat. Once in the whale’s flesh, the sharp toggle tip swiveled sideways, making it harder for the tip of the weapon to pull out. Whales normally dove deep after the first prick, to try and escape the sharp jab from the surface of the ocean. This harpoon shaft was twisted by a descending whale.
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- National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center