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 bony substance from the mouths of whales known as baleen is formed of keratin, like human hair and nails. It hangs in long, parallel sheets from the upper jaws of the blue, right, and minke whales, as well as other lesser-known species. Its hairy fringe filters food from seawater.
- Dried out, baleen’s strength and flexibility made it ideal for buggy whips, corset busks, and umbrella ribs before the advent of plastic. A whale’s bone could actually be worth more than its oil. This man’s large umbrella has a wooden shaft, heavy hinged baleen ribs made in short sections, and an ivory handle. Marked “G. Hobbs, Barre,” it belonged to the donor’s grandfather, who lived in Barre, Massachusetts, until around the end of the Civil War.
- Date made
- ca 1835-1865
- Hobbs, George
- ID Number
- accession number
- catalog number
- Data Source
- National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center