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Bright Ideas
from the National Archives for NHD 1999

Resources at
NARA'S Northeast Region (Boston)


Development of Radar Helps the Allies Win World War II

Although radar had been developed previous to World War II it was the gigantic efforts of the scientists, engineers, and technicians at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Radiation Laboratory in Cambridge, MA, that applied radar to many different weapon systems used by the Allied forces. The personnel at the Laboratory concentrated on microwave or shortwave radar and compact equipment that allowed radar to be used on ships and planes and other equipment. The research and inventions made at the Laboratory played a significant part in the Allied victory. Records available at NARA's Northeast Region in Boston, include correspondence, minutes of meetings, interviews, observation notes, invention numbers, photographs, charts, graphs, and plans. RG 227

Efforts Made to Produce Hydroelectric Power by Utilizing the Ocean Tides

Records of the Passamaquoddy Tidal Power Project are available at NARA's Northeast Region in Boston. It was a joint Canadian--American project designed to harness the unusually high tides in the Passamaquoddy and Cabscot Bays to produce electricity. The International Passamaquoddy Engineering Board was established to supervise the efforts which was carried out on the American side by the Army Corps of Engineers. This was one of the largest engineering project carried out by the Federal government during the great Depression, and Quoddy Village was established near Eastport, Maine to house all the workers that would by needed for the work. Records include the correspondence of Dexter P. Cooper, the Civil Engineer who finally convinced President Franklin D. Roosevelt to have the Federal government to undertake this large project. Also included is correspondence, reports, cost estimates, corrosion studies, maps, photographs, plans, charts, and newspaper clippings. RG 77

The Building of Nuclear Power Plants Is Always Controversial

One of the long bitter disputes over the building of a nuclear power plant in a heavily populated area concerned the building of the Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant in Seabrook, NH, during the 1970s. The controversy and the citizen protests and demonstrations went on for many years before the facility was constructed. These records of the EPA are available at NARA's Northeast Region in Boston. They include decisions of administrators, appeals, motions, remands to parties, technical information, and transcripts of Congressional and Administrative hearings. RG 412

Controversies Over Inventions Have Existed Since Our Nation Was Founded

The U.S. Constitution gives Congress the authority to pass legislation controlling the issuances of patents which give to inventors the exclusive right of making, constructing, using, or assigning to others the invention or discovery for a limited number of years. From the very first patent act passed by Congress in 1790, disputes arose over violations of patent rights and it was the Federal courts that adjudicated these controversies. These court records of the 19th and early 20th centuries read like a "Who was Who" among American inventors, entrepreneurs, businesses an corporations. Records available at NARA's Northeast Region in Boston include copies of patents and letters of patents, contracts, depositions and affidavits, transcripts of witnesses testimony, statistical tables, opinions, decrees, and decisions. RG 21.

Research is an Important Component in the Progress of Science and Technology in the Transportation and Communications Fields

The Volpe National transportation Systems Center in Cambridge, MA, is concerned with the exchange of transportation and logistics information and research and technology among private industry, the academic community, and the Federal government. It assists in the development and maintenance of important national research on the social and economic effects of transportation, supports air and marine electronic systems, performs systems assessments for other Federal agencies, and plans projects for the application of technology to the solution of requirements in all forms of ground transportation system. Records available at NARA's Northeast Region in Boston include program and technical reports showing interim and final results of research, and development and demonstration projects funded by the government. RG 467

Producing and Distributing the Weapons for Our National Defense

The Ordnance Department was established as an independent bureau of the War Department in 1812. It was responsible for the procurement, repair, and distribution of ordnance and equipment, research and the development of ordnance, and the testing of new types of ordnance. Included are records of the Watertown Arsenal and the Springfield Armory whose records date back to the early 19th Century. The records relate to administrative matters involving the commanding officer and his staff, inspections, expenditures, research and development, testing activities, and ordnance inventories. Thay are available at NARA's Northeast Region in Boston. RG 156


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