Alison L. Oswald

Alison L. Oswald

  • M.L.S, State University of New York at Albany, 1995
  • M.S., Ball State University, 1992
  • B.A., Saint Bonaventure University, 1989
Research Specialties: 
  • American inventors and invention
  • History of science and technology and health care related collections
  • Archival arrangement and description
  • Archival studies, Special emphasis on archival internships
Role in Museum: 

Archivist for the Lemelson Center/Archives Center. Administer the Modern Inventors Documentation (MIND) Program which documents, interprets and disseminates information about invention and innovation. Process invention related collections, work collaboratively with the Museum’s curatorial staff to identify and appraise inventor’s papers, records, and artifacts that have particular significance to the research and educational goals of the Museum and Archives Center and encourage donation of those materials. Consult on potential acquisitions and build the Archives Center’s invention-related collections. Provide reference services to the general public, scholars, educational institutions, governmental agencies, media, and staff within the Smithsonian Institution and access to collections. Coordinate the Lemelson Center archival internship, the Lemelson Center’s Travel to Collections Awards Program and the Archives Center's Internship Program.

  • Current Projects:

Collaborative EAD Project (Smithsonian archival units), 2009-Present

Inventive Minds (July 2015-June 2016)

Inventing Green (forthcoming summer 2016)

  • Past Exhibitions:

Watching Mr. Wizard: Innovation in Science Education (May 2015 to September 2015)

Curatorial team member, “Doodles, Drafts and Designs: Two Centuries of Industrial Drawings from the Smithsonian,” Moravian College, Payne Art Gallery, Bethlehem, PA, August 2001-October 2001.
Exhibition traveled under the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) for 5 years.

Professional Affiliations: 
  • Society of Ameican Achivists
  • Mid-Atlantic Regional Achives Conference


Charlotte Cramer Sachs in the Immigrant Entrepreneurship: German-American Business Biographies, 1720 to the Present

The collaborative research project Immigrant Entrepreneurship: German-American Business Biographies, 1720 to the Present sheds new light on the entrepreneurial and economic capacity of immigrants by investigating the German-American example in the United States. It traces the lives, careers and business ventures of eminent German-American business people of roughly the last two hundred and ninety years, integrating the history of German-American immigration into the larger narrative of U.S. economic and business history.

"Mr. Darby Goes to Washington," American Windsurfer no. 5 (1998).

Discusses the donation and significance of the Newman Darby archives to the Archives Center.

"William Frederick Friedman, A Pictorial Essay" Cryptologia 16, no. 3 (July 1992).

Illustrates and provides a brief overview of the life of William F. Friedman.