Doodles, Drafts, and Designs

Industrial Drawings from the Smithsonian


This exhibition was developed by the National Museum of American History in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution Libraries.

At the turn of the 19th century, the United States was a country rich in natural resources and opportunity, but wanting in people and machines. Initially the nation’s entrepreneurs turned to England and Europe for labor, technology, and tools.

Over time, American inventors devised their own solutions to the challenges facing the country in manufacturing, agriculture, transportation, and everyday life. Then, as now, they captured their creativity on paper, recording ideas and their evolution into reality.

Doodles, Drafts, and Designs: Industrial Drawings from the Smithsonian documents two centuries of American ingenuity and industry, from inventor’s hand to investor’s boardroom, from patent office to factory floor. 

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