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August 2003

Fads and Pop Culture—Public Documents and Patents

detail from patent 1,867,377 (Bread Slicer)

Patents & Inventions

Nothing marks popular culture like inventions and fad products. People always say something new is the “greatest thing since sliced bread.” The bread slicer was patented in 1928 with patent 1,867,377.

Some other inventions that have influenced popular culture:

For more information on inventions, including any of the patents listed above, visit the Library’s Information & Reference Department, which has copies of all U.S. patents ever issued, or the U.S. Patent & Trademark office’s website.

Government Documents

Cincinnati Locomotive Builders: 1845–1868
Smithsonian Institution 1965
P.D. SI3.3: 245
Today’s out-of-favor developments were yesterday’s high-tech inventions. Cincinnati was a hub of railroad locomotive manufacturing in the nineteenth century.

Ethnic Recordings in America: A Neglected Heritage
Library of Congress 1982
P.D. LC 39.11: 1
From Cajun to Gospel, ethnic recordings in the Library of Congress are documented in this well-illustrated volume.

Music for Silent Films: 1894–1929
Library of Congress 1988
P.D. LC 1.64: M97
Silent films were cutting edge at one point, and this book highlights treasures from the Library of Congress.

Performing Arts Annual
Library of Congress
P.D. LC 1.46:
Each year, the Library of Congress uses its collections to highlight past arts accomplishments, whether it is the making of Martha Graham’s ballet “Appalachian Spring” in the 1987 issue or features from the Lillian Gish collection in 1992.

Wonderful Inventions
Library of Congress 1985
P.D. LC 40.2: W84
Learn the development of motion pictures, broadcasting, and sound recordings as told through the collections at the Library of Congress.