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.
- Almost from the moment of the mechanical clock's invention, the local clock tower on a church or other public building dominated the landscape. Tower clocks announced the time to people within earshot of their bells and regulated urban life in the Western world. The introduction of the pendulum and the anchor escapement in the late seventeenth century made these clocks remarkably accurate. They were set at local noon (when the sun reached its highest point in the sky at a particular location), and thus gave each town a time of its own, depending on its longitude.
- In America, before specialized manufacturers began mass-producing tower clocks in the second half of the nineteenth century, the clocks were built to order by versatile individual clockmakers and, occasionally, by adventurous blacksmiths. The tower clock shown here is one of the few built by Simon Willard (1753-1848) of Boston, the most famous of the many clockmaking members of the Willard family. Willard was inventive as well as prolific, a clockmaker who worked not only for a regional clientele but also for Thomas Jefferson and the outfitters of the U.S. Capitol.
- Marked "Made in 1832 by Simon Willard in his 80th year," this tower clock served for more than a century on the First (Unitarian) Parish in Harvard Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In all details the movement shows uncompromising craftsmanship. It has a pinwheel dead-beat escapement with maintaining power and a rack-and-snail hour striking train.
- Currently not on view
- Date made
- Willard, Simon
- ID Number
- catalog number
- accession number
- Data Source
- National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center