The Lemelson Center Fellowship Program supports projects that present creative approaches to the study of invention and innovation in American society. These include, but are not limited to, historical research and documentation projects resulting in publications, exhibitions, educational initiatives, and multimedia products.
The program provides access to the expertise of the Institution's research staff and the vast invention and technology collections of the National Museum of American History (NMAH). The NMAH Archives Center documents both individuals and firms across a range of time periods and subject areas. Representative collections include the Western Union Telegraph Company Records, ca. 1840-1994 and the Earl S. Tupper Papers, documenting Tupper, and his invention, Tupperware. In addition, the NMAH Library offers long runs of historical technology serials like Scientific American and American Machinist, and the American Trade Literature collection, which includes 300,000 catalogs, technical manuals, and advertising brochures for some 30,000 firms, primarily from 1880-1945. For a comprehensive catalog of objects, manuscripts, images and research materials available at the NMAH (and other Smithsonian units), see the Smithsonian Collections Search Center.
The Lemelson Center invites applications covering a broad spectrum of research topics that resonate with its mission to foster a greater understanding of invention and innovation, broadly defined. However, the Center especially encourages project proposals that will illuminate the role of women inventors; inventors with disabilities; inventors from diverse backgrounds; or any inventions and technologies associated with groups that are traditionally under-represented in the historical record. Pertinent NMAH collections include the papers of Victor L. Ochoa, a Mexican-American aeronautical inventor; the papers of Dr. Patricia Bath, an African-American inventor of a patented cataracts treatment; and the HIV/AIDS and LGBT Reference Collections, which document innovative public health programs and associated technologies. For a comprehensive list of Archives Center collections, see the Archives Center's website.