Bruce Sinclair

Bruce Sinclair, formerly Melvin Kranzberg Professor of the History of Technology at the Georgia Institute of Technology, is a Senior Fellow at the Dibner Institute at MIT. He has served as president of the Society for the History of Technology and received its Da Vinci Medal.

  • Technology and the African-American Experience

    Technology and the African-American Experience

    Needs and Opportunities for Study

    Bruce Sinclair

    Race and technology are two of the most powerful motifs in American history, but until recently they have not often been considered in relation to each other. This collection of essays examines the intersection of the two in a variety of social and technological contexts, pointing out, as the subtitle (borrowed from Brooke Hindle's classic 1966 work Early American Technology) puts it, the "needs and opportunities for study." The essays challenge what editor Bruce Sinclair calls the "myth of black disingenuity"—the historical perception that black people were technically incompetent. Enslaved Africans actually brought with them the techniques of rice cultivation that proved so profitable to their white owners, and antebellum iron working in the South depended heavily on blacks' craft skills. The essays document the realities of black technical creativity—in catalogs of patented inventiveness, in the use of "invisible technologies" such as sea chanteys, and in the mastery of complex new technologies. But the book also explores the economic and social functions of the disingenuity myth, and therefore its persistence. African-Americans often saw in new technologies a means to escape racial prejudice, but white Americans used them just as often to re-frame the boundaries of social behavior. The essays show that technologies and racialized thought are much more tightly connected than we have imagined.

    • Hardcover $35.00
    • Paperback $20.00 £15.99

Contributor

  • Technology in America, Third Edition

    Technology in America, Third Edition

    A History of Individuals and Ideas

    Carroll Pursell

    The new edition of a popular collection that traces the history of American invention from the age of the artisan to the era of Silicon Valley.

    This volume traces the history of American technology—its inventions and inventors—from the age of the artisan to the era of Silicon Valley. The focus on inventors acknowledges that technology is a fundamental form of human behavior and that, ultimately, it is people who have the ideas, design the machines, and build the institutions. These accessible and succinct essays chronicle the work of the famous—among them, Thomas Jefferson, Eli Whitney, and Thomas Alva Edison—and of the sometimes forgotten—including Ellen Swallow Richards, the founder of the home economics movement. One illuminating essay shows how Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin helped Americans confront the modern technological age.This third edition retains the content of the first two editions and adds three new essays: on Rachel Carson and the rise of the environmental movement; on A. C. Gilbert and the development of an American toy industry; and on Lewis Latimer and the struggle of African Americans to gain recognition as professional inventors and engineers.

    Contributors Lawrence Badash, George Basalla, Robert V. Bruce, Jean Christie, Gail Cooper, Ruth Schwartz Cowan, James J. Flink, Barton C. Hacker, Samuel P. Hays, Brooke Hindle, Thomas Parke Hughes, Reese V. Jenkins, John A. Kouwenhoven, Edwin T. Layton Jr., W. David Lewis, Hugo A. Meier, Carroll Pursell, Adam Rome, Bruce Sinclair, Merritt Roe Smith, Darwin H. Stapleton, John William Ward, James C. Williams

    • Paperback $30.00 £25.00
  • Becoming MIT

    Becoming MIT

    Moments of Decision

    David Kaiser

    The evolution of MIT, as seen in a series of crucial decisions over the years.

    How did MIT become MIT? The Massachusetts Institute of Technology marks the 150th anniversary of its founding in 2011. Over the years, MIT has lived by its motto, “Mens et Manus” (“Mind and Hand”), dedicating itself to the pursuit of knowledge and its application to real-world problems. MIT has produced leading scholars in fields ranging from aeronautics to economics, invented entire academic disciplines, and transformed ideas into market-ready devices. This book examines a series of turning points, crucial decisions that helped define MIT. Many of these issues have relevance today: the moral implications of defense contracts, the optimal balance between government funding and private investment, and the right combination of basic science, engineering, and humanistic scholarship in the curriculum.

    Chapters describe the educational vison and fund-raising acumen of founder William Barton Rogers (MIT was among the earliest recipients of land grant funding); MIT's relationship with Harvard—its rival, doppelgänger, and, for a brief moment, degree-conferring partner; the battle between pure science and industrial sponsorship in the early twentieth century; MIT's rapid expansion during World War II because of defense work and military training courses; the conflict between Cold War gadgetry and the humanities; protests over defense contracts at the height of the Vietnam War; the uproar in the local community over the perceived riskiness of recombinant DNA research; and the measures taken to reverse years of institutionalized discrimination against women scientists.

    • Hardcover $25.95 £22.00
    • Paperback $21.95 £17.99