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American Technology



American Technology

Carroll Pursell (Editor)

ISBN: 978-0-631-21997-2 February 2001 Wiley-Blackwell 374 Pages

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American Technology brings together ten fascinating and important stories of the ways in which Americans, from colonial times to the present, have embraced, rejected, interacted with, and understood the technologies with which they have lived and worked. Topics include the colonial home, the shop floor, the doctor's office, and the telephone exchange, as well as New England mill-sites, nuclear power, and the Internet. Each scholarly account is accompanied by primary documents and a list of further readings.
Series Editor's Preface.


1. Introduction.

"So Much Depends Upon a Red Wheelbarrow: Agricultural Tool Ownership in the Eighteenth-Century Mid-Atlantic": Judith A. McGaw.

Document: Selections from American Colonial Wealth: Documents and Methods: Alice Hanson Jones.

Further Reading.

2. Introduction.

Dam-Breaking in the 19th-Century Merrimack Valley: Water, Social Conflict, and the Waltham-Lowell Mills: Theodore L. Steinberg.

Documents A: Winnipissiogee Lake Company v. Worster.

Document B: Great Falls Manufacturing Company v. Worster.

Further Reading.

3. Introduction.

Working Environments: An Ecological Approach to Industrial Health and Safety: Arthur F. McEvoy.

Document A: Nicholas Farwell vs. The Boston and Worster Rail Road Corporation.

Document B: Edison L. Bowers, Is It Safe to Work? A Study of Industrial Accidents.

Document C: Edward J. Beshada et al. V. Johns-Manville Products Corporation.

Further Reading.

4. Introduction.

Socially Camouflaged Technologies: The Case of the Electromechanical Vibrator: Rachel Maines.

Documents A: U.S. Patent No. 175,202, dated March 21, 1876, granted to George H. Taylor for an "Improvement in Medical Rubbing Apparatus.".

Document B: M[ary] L.H. Arnold Snow, Mechanical Vibration and Its Therapeutic Application.

Document C: Moble M. Eberhart, A Brief Guide to Vibratory Technique.

Document D: A. Dale Covey, Profitable Office Specialtie.

Document E: "Enjoy Life!", as for White Cross Vibrator.

Further Reading.

5. Introduction.

Local History and National Culture: Notions on Engineering Professionalism in America: Bruce Sinclair.

Document A: J.A.L. Waddell, "Some Notes on Vocational Guidance".

Document B: J.P.H. Perry, "New York Engineers' Successful Efforts to Relieve Unemployment".

Further Reading.

6. Introduction.

Out of the Barns and into the Kitchens: Transformations in Farm Women's Work in the First Half of the Twentieth Century: Christine Kleinegger.

Document A: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Social and Labor Needs of Farm Women, Report No. 1903.

Document B: Guy E. Tripp, Electric Development as an Aid to Agriculture.

Document C: Newell Leroy Sims, Elements of Rural Sociology.

Further Reading.

7. Introduction.

Advertising the Atom: Michael Smith.

Document A: U.S. Congress, Joint Committee on Atomic Energy, Atomic Power Development and Private Enterprise.

Document B: U.S. Congress, Joint Committee on Atomic Energy, Environmental Effects of Producing Electric Power, Hearings.

Document C: U.S. Congress, House of Representatives, Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Energy Conservation and Power.

Further Reading.

8. Introduction.

Race and Technology: African American Women in the Bell System, 1945-1980: Venus Green.

Documents A: Cover, The Telephone Review.

Document B: Table 8-1.

Further Reading.

9. Introduction.

The Rise and Fall of the Appropriate Technology Movement in the United States, 1965-1985: Carroll Pursell.

Documents A: Harry S. Truman, "Technical Assistance for the Underdeveloped Areas of the World".

Document B: State of California, Press Release, "Office of Appropriate Technology: Purpose, Organization, and Activities," June, 1976.

Document C: State of California, logo of Office of Appropriate Technology.

Document D: U.S. Department of Energy, National Center for Appropriate Technology, "An Introduction and a History".

Document E: Allen L. Hammond and William D. Metz, "Solar Energy Research: Making Solar After the Nuclear Model?".

Further Reading.

10. Introduction.

Hacking Away at the Counterculture: Andrew Ross.

Further Reading.


"Carroll Pursell continues his groundbreaking venture into the social history of technology. His selection of essays for American Technology will challenge conventional technological enthusiasm and stimulate constructive controversy." Thomas P. Hughes, author of American Genesis and Rescuing Prometheus

"This is a wonderful supplementary text for courses in American history that focus on technological, economic, and social change." Ruth Schwartz Cowan, State University of New York at Stony Brook

  • Contains ten key essays by leading scholars on the social and cultural history of American technology, from the colonial period to the present.
  • Includes general and sectional introductions, primary documents, and further reading lists.
  • Explores major themes of American technology, including agricultural tool ownership, working environments, and the intersection of race and gender in technology debates.