10:11 AM

Above and Below: National Archives Records Administration buildings in College Park, Maryland and Pennsylvania Ave DC

Good afternoon and welcome back to my blog! I've already spent three hours working on my project today with just this one task!

I am following up my last clue in an attempt to find a name for the unidentified St. Louis Clay Salesman. It still drives me crazy I can't figure this one out! I thought of this several weeks ago, but just didn’t have the energy to follow it up until today.
Previous blogs to my quest were Seeking a name for my St Louis Salesman  and Massachusetts Historical Society: Regarding Rev Parker and Queenware and Pottery: New Info on Rev Parker
If you recall I tried this before by contacting the Massachusetts Historical Society Scholar, Den Grodzin gave us volumes of information about what was happening while our salesman was in Boston and that he visited Rev Parker and then dined with Mr. Wright who was a very important man. Our salesman must have been an extremely interesting man to been able to carry the depth of conversation with such learned men. However, with all this new info, we found out that Rev Parker did not keep a journal about those who visited him.

My last clue for finding a name for the salesman has to do with his visit to the Patent Agent in Washington City. There he took the first step in filing his innovation for a patent for a guiding balloon. Since, my Google search did not show a patent was issued in 1855-56, I think the idea died on the vine but the government documents of his request- if they survived would have been kept.

This morning, I Googled, U S Patent Records Archives and discovered that these records were moved at some point to the National Archives Record Administration and split between the Washington DC and College Park, Maryland Offices. 
So, I sent an email to their office. Remember, as I mentioned before, be brief with any request you make when asking staff to do your research. Their time is just as valuable as your!

I personally prefer to do this myself, but I don’t’ have the time or the expensive of a hotel, flight down et al and I don’t want to enter the research trap of drowning in records and spending weeks getting more info than I need (although it would be heaven- resist the urge to over research). All I need right now is the records filed, drawing and the salesman’s name.

So, enough with that!  Below you’ll see the email I sent to Archives II and under that the info from the description of the Trademark & Patent Records which gives the history of the collection and how it is organized. Knowing how a collection is organized is like a road map!

If I have any bloggers living within Archives II and want to take this quest on….Go for it!

Archives II Reference Section (Civilian), Textual Archives Services Division (NWCT2R[C]), National Archives at College Park, 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD, 20740-6001. PHONE: 301-837-3510; FAX: 301-837-1752; EMAIL: Archives2reference@nara.gov

I am a historian for the Steamboat Arabia Museum in search for a patent caveat with drawings filed October 16, 1855 for guiding balloons for passengers and freight. This info is needed to verify the name of the patentee. I am currently working on an unidentified St. Louis Missouri man's journal and he makes two entries concerning his idea for a patent (see below).I am not sure if the National Archives has any of these preliminary documents can be found in the RG 241- Patent and Trademark Office 1836-1978 but if records are filed by date, this should be easy to retrieve. 
This innovation was nothing new and so I think it never was patented but I could be wrong. This journal will eventually be published and it would be a great injustice not to give this man a name.
Any help is greatly appreciated. I reside in Connecticut now but for many years used the National Archives in Washington and College Park (old and new site). I have no idea if Mike Myers is still working in any capacity or retired but I do wish him well. Back in the early 1990s when it was still allowed, Mike took me to the "attic" where the records were stored to check a box before it was taken down to the reading room- Even though there was tons of dust floating around, I told him to leave me there for a week. 
With warm regards,
Elizabeth Isenburg
Visit to a Patent Agent- October 15, 1855
After settling into my hotel, I saw Mr. B C Robbins, a patent agent, relative to my invention for guiding balloons. His office is very nearby the Patent Office. By his advice I applied for a patent caveat, this is the first step to verify if my idea has already been patented; if none exists I am allowed to apply for a patent and file the patent application. Robbins drew up the necessary papers, including the description and a drawing of my balloon, which will be filed on the tomorrow on the 16th. I can hardly wait for Robbin's correspondence. 

Thursday, November 8, 1855- 
I spent some time with Mr. Oliver Byrne, a well-known and justly celebrated engineer, both civil and military. I laid before him my plan for conveying passengers and freight by balloons and he examined it and pronounced it impracticable, although at first he thought it would work very well.

Records of the Patent and Trademark Office

(Record Group 241)
23,879 cu. ft.
Table of Contents
Established: In the Department of Commerce by the Patent Office Name Change Act (88 Stat. 1949), January 2, 1975.
Predecessor Agencies:
Patent Board, consisting of Secretary of State, Secretary of War, and Attorney General (1790-93)
In the Department of State:
  • Secretary of State (1793-1802)
  • Superintendent of Patents (1802-36)
  • Patent Office (1836-49)
  • Patent Office, Department of the Interior (1849-1925)
  • Patent Office, Department of Commerce (1925-75)
Functions: Administers the laws and regulations governing the issuance of patents and trademarks, adjudicates resulting questions, and processes international applications for patents.
Finding Aids: Forrest R. Holdcamper, comp., "Preliminary Inventory of the Records of the Patent Office," NC 147 (1966); supplement in National Archives microfiche edition of preliminary inventories.
Related Records: Record copies of publications of the Patent Office and the Patent and Trademark Office in RG 287, Publications of the U.S. Government.
Textual Records
Washington Area
23,518 cu. ft.
Arch/engr Plans
College Park
126,600 items
12 lin. ft.
History: Granting of patents for inventions made a function of the Federal Government by Article I, section 8, of the Constitution. Patent Board, consisting of Secretary of State, Secretary of War, and Attorney General, established by the Patent Act of 1790 (1 Stat. 109), April 10, 1790. Abolished by the Patent Act of 1793 (1 Stat. 318), February 21, 1793, with responsibility for issuing patents given to Secretary of State. Superintendent of Patents appointed by Secretary of State, 1802. Superintendent of Patents and staff, collectively called the Patent Office, functioned in immediate office of the Secretary of State, 1802-36. By the Patent Act of 1836 (5 Stat. 117), July 4, 1836, Patent Office established as a separate organization within the Department of State, with a Commissioner of Patents at its head. SEE 241.3.
Note: Patent records predating 1836 were unnumbered and could be accessed only by name of patentee and date of patent. After 1836, unique numbers assigned by the Patent Office distinguished each new patent.
Most original patent records were destroyed by fire, December 15, 1836. Reconstruction of the records was authorized by the Patent Act of 1837 (5 Stat. 191), March 3, 1837, which permitted inventors who had letters patent either to submit the originals, or certified copies of the originals, to the Patent Office; or, in the absence of documentation, to create a new patent document furnished under oath as conforming to original drawings and specifications. Arbitrary numbers suffixed with "X" were assigned by the Patent Office to the restored drawings and specifications.
Textual Records: Copies, made 1839-87, of certificates describing patents ("Patent Heads") granted between 1794 and 1835. Specifications, copied 1837-83, relating to original and reissued patents granted before 1837. Copies, made 1837-47, relating to patents granted before 1837.
Engineering Plans (3,000 items): Drawings, made 1837-47, of patents granted between 1791 and 1836, with accompanying name and date list. SEE ALSO 241.4.
Microfilm Publications: T1235.
24,863 lin. ft.
History: Patent Office transferred to newly established Department of the Interior by an act of March 3, 1849 (9 Stat. 395). Transferred, effective April 1, 1925, to Department of Commerce, by EO 4175, March 17, 1925. Renamed the Patent and Trademark Office, 1975. SEE 241.1.
Textual Records: General correspondence, 1836-68. Copies of specifications relating to claims for additional improvements, 1837-61. Case files for patent rights extensions, 1836-75. Copies of extensions of patent certificates, 1839-77. Registers of patent extension applications, 1866-77. Digests relating to assignments of patent property rights, 1837-1905, with indexes, 1837-1923. Patent assignment digests and indexes, 1922-57. Miscellaneous correspondence and rejected petitions, 1837-54. Letters received, 1872-82. Abandoned patent applications, 1894- 1937. Patent application files, 1837-1918 (19,874 ft.). Index of inventors filing applications for patents (series of 1935), ca. 1935-47. Serial registers of patent applications received (series of 1880, 1900, 1915, 1925, 1935, 1948, 1956, 1961, and 1970), 1880-1973. Index of inventors filing applications for design patents, 1922-48. Serial register, and examiner's serial register, of design applications received, 1924-48. Index of corporation patent assignments, 1938-46. Index of corporate trademark applications, 1924-61. Index of foreign firm patent assignments, 1938-46. Patent transfer books ("Liber Patent Transfer Volumes"), 1836. Patent assignment digest books, 1919. Interference case files, 1836-1919. Registers of interferences, 1839-1905. Copies of specifications relating to numbered patents, 1837-40, and to reissued patents, 1838-48. Letters sent by the Commissioner of Patents relating to patent models to be displayed at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition (Chicago, IL), 1892-94. Caveat case files relating to inventions of Thomas A. Edison, 1872-82. Organization charts, 1929-39.
Engineering Plans (123,600 items): Original patent drawings of inventions ("Utility Patents"), 1837-71 (112,000 items). Design patent drawings, 1842-77 (9,500 items). Drawings of additional improvements of patents, 1838-61 (300 items). Drawings to justify reissue of patents invalidated by unintentional inaccuracies in the original applications, 1838-70 (1,800 items). SEE ALSO 241.4.
Finding Aids: James E. Primas, comp., "Lists of Names of Inventors in the Case Files Relating to the Extension of Patent Rights, 1836-75," NC 20 (1963); James A. Paulauskas, comp., Additional Improvement Patents, 1837-1861, SL 39 (1977). John P. Butler, comp., Patent Interference Case Files: 1838-1900, SL 59 (1993).