Scholars working at the intersection of African-American history and the history of technology are redefining the idea of technology to include the work of the skilled artisan and the ingenuity of the self-taught inventor. Although denied access through most of American history to many new technologies and to the privileged education of the engineer, African-Americans have been engaged with a range of technologies, as makers and as users, since the colonial era.
The succinct, nontechnical essays in Technology in America cover the history of American invention from Thomas Jefferson's founding of the Patent Office to Robert Goddards space-age rockets. Each treats an individual and a concept, highlighting the important role technological change has played in the evolution of American culture. The major themes include the effects of technology transfer, the development of the American system of manufacturing, the institutionalization of knowledge and scientific research, and technology as it social process.