Thomas Edison's Patent Drawing for an Improvement in Electric Lamps

Light Bulb Patent Drawing

Patented January 27, 1880
National Archives,
Records of the Patent and Trademark Office

On January 27, 1880, Thomas Edison received this historic patent embodying the principles of his incandescent lamp that paved the way for the universal domestic use of electric light.

Student Interest:

  • The date of a document can focus student attention on turning points in history.

  • Documents can enable students to make connections between seemingly unrelated information for example, a patent drawing and Article I of the U.S. Constitution.

Teachers Note:

A teacher who participated in Primarily Teaching, the National Archives summer institute for teachers, developed a lesson plan for the Digital Classroom featuring this patent drawing (available online at www.archives.gov/education/lessons/telephone-light-patents/index.html). Also, the National Archives education staff included it in an article for the 1999 National History Day Teachers’ Guide and in the second Teaching With Documents compilation volume. The lesson plans provide strategies for connecting history and science.

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The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
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