The Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention & Innovation
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Janese Swanson Innovative Lives Presentation and Oral History,
1998

Extent and Forms of Material: 1.50 cubic feet, including BetaCam SP and one ½” VHS videotapes (4 boxes)
Creator: Jerome and Dorothy Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation
Abstract: Janese Swanson developed video game software, a website, and an array of toys and gadgets aimed at making technology more accessible to girls. The collection contains approximately six hours of original and reference video footage of Swanson’s Innovative Lives Presentation, in which she discussed her background and demonstrated her inventions with her daughter, Jackie. The material also includes a brief interview.
Repository: Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; archivescenter@si.edu; 202-633-3270; www.americanhistory.si.edu/archives
Collection Number: AC0642
Processing Note: Processed by Kimberly Tarr (project archivist), December, 2009; supervised by Alison Oswald, archivist.
© 2010 by the Smithsonian Institution. All rights reserved.

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Information for users of the collection

Conditions Governing Access: The collection is open for research use. Unrestricted research use of reference videos on site permitted, by appointment.
Physical Access: Series 1, Original Videos, 1998, are stored off-site and Series 2, Master Videos, 1998, may not be used by researchers. Researchers must use reference copies of audio-visual materials.
Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use: Copyright held by the Smithsonian Institution. Copies of releases on file. Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Reproduction permission for the Archives Center: reproduction fees may apply.
Preferred Citation: Title and date of item, Janese Swanson Innovative Lives Presentation and Interview, 1998, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, box number X, folder number XX.

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In-depth information about the collection

Administrative/biographical history
Scope and content
System of arrangement
Acquisition information
Custodial history
Container listing

Administrative/biographical history

Janese Swanson, a native of California, was the founder and CEO of Girl Tech (1995), a company created to bring girls into the world of technology. The second of six children, Swanson was raised by her mother after her father died in the Vietnam War. From a young age, Swanson had an interest in technology, often tinkering with household appliances. Building on her experience as a flight attendant and school teacher, Swanson served on the team at Broderbund Software that developed the video game Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? She produced Playroom and Treehouse, early learning software, and has developed award-winning curricula, electronic toys, and books that encourage girls to explore technology and inventions. Some of Swanson’s toy inventions include the Snoop Stopper Keepsake Box, Me-Mail Message Center, Zap N’ Lock Journal, YakBak, and Swap-It Locket. Her publications include Tech Girl’s Internet Adventures, Tech Girl’s Activity Book, and Girlzine: A Magazine for the Global Girl. Swanson received her Ed.D. in Organization and Leadership Technology in 1997 from the University of San Francisco.

The Jerome and Dorothy Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation was founded in 1995 at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History through a generous gift from the Lemelson Foundation. The Center’s mission is to document, interpret, and disseminate information about invention and innovation; to encourage inventive creativity in young people; and to foster an appreciation for the central role invention and innovation play in the history of the United States. The Innovative Lives series brings together museum visitors and, especially, school aged children, and American inventors to discuss inventions and the creative process and to experiment and play with hands-on activities related to each inventor’s product. This collection was recorded by the Innovative Lives Program of the Jerome and Dorothy Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation.


Scope and content

This collection contains six (6) hours of original (BetaCam SP) recordings, six (6) hours of master (BetaCam SP) recordings, and six (6) hours of reference (VHS) copies documenting the life and work of Dr. Janese Swanson, inventor of toys, books, a website, magazine, and software. This video documentation was created on March 25, 1998. The recordings include a presentation by Swanson for the Lemelson Center’s Innovative Lives Program. Audience participants are students from Thoreau Middle School (Vienna, Virginia), Options Charter School (Washington, D.C.), Carrollton Elementary School (New Carrollton, Maryland), and Rosa Parks Middle School (Olney, Maryland). The collection also contains a brief interview with Dr. Swanson.


System of arrangement

Series 1: Original Videos, 1998
Series 2: Master Videos, 1998
Series 3: Reference Videos (viewing copies), 1998

Acquisition information

This collection was recorded by the Innovative Lives Program of the Jerome and Dorothy Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation on March 25, 1998. The Innovative Lives series brings Museum visitors and American inventors together to discuss inventions and the creative process and to experiment and play with hands-on activities related to each inventor’s product.


Custodial history

The collection was transferred to the Archives Center in 1998.


Access points

Subject/Name:
Swanson, Janese
Girl Tech
Jerome and Dorothy Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation

Subject/Topical:
Inventions--1980-2000
Inventors--20th century
Toys
Computer software--Development

Form/Genre:
Interviews – 1980-2000
Oral history – 1980-2000
BetaCam SP (videotape format)
Videotapes


Container listing

Box Folder  
    Series 1, Original Video, 1998
1 OV 642.1-6 Janese Swanson Innovative Lives Presentation
1998 March 25
Original video cassettes
Total Running Time: 6 hours
2 MV 642.1-6 Series 2, Master Videos, 1998
Janese Swanson Innovative Lives Presentation
1998 March 25
Master video cassettes
Total Running Time: 6 hours
    Series 3, Reference Videos (Viewing Copies), 1998
2 RV 642.1 Janese Swanson Innovative Lives Presentation
1998 March 25
Total Running Time: 1:00:08, Camera A
Martha Morris, NMAH deputy director, provides opening remarks for the 13th Innovative Lives program and introduces Swanson. Discusses how her desire to introduce technology to girls led her to create the company, Girl Tech. Notes that parents purchase technology twice as much for boys than girls. Presentation includes demonstration of Girl Tech website and search engine. Assisted by her eleven-year-old daughter, Jackie, Swanson reviews various toys and games geared toward young women and describes how her inventions differ. Answers questions from students.
  RV 642.2 Janese Swanson Innovative Lives Presentation and Interview
1998 March 25
Total Running Time 54:02, Camera A
Continuation of presentation that begins on 642.1. Swanson provides advice for girls interested in becoming inventors. Outlines how her background and experience as a school teacher and flight attendant contributed to the creation of “Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?” Responding to questions, Swanson discusses the development of her ideas and the freedom that comes from creating. In the second presentation, Swanson discusses growing up as one of six children. Her daughter, Jackie, discusses “Take Your Daughter to Work” Day. Swanson shows advertisements and encourages discussion. Through education, she discovered that there are more differences among girls than between girls and boys. Disappointed in the way in which toy companies have marketed to girls, she created her company, Girl Tech.
  RV 642.3 Janese Swanson Innovative Lives Presentation
1998 March 25
Total Running Time: 29:18, Camera B
Same information as RV 642.1, but shot at a different angle and includes audience reaction. Bars, tones, and time code.
  RV 642.4 Janese Swanson Innovative Lives Presentation
1998 March 25
Total Running Time: 29:52, Camera B
Same information as RV 642.1, but shot at a different angle and includes audience reaction.
  RV 642.5 Janese Swanson Innovative Lives Presentation
1998 March 25
Total Running Time: 37:35, Camera A
Much of the content is the same as RV 642.1 but shot at a different angle to include Swanson speaking. Toys and games are displayed. Swanson discusses specific toys currently on the market, such as Dream Phone and Mall Madness. Introduces her voice recognition invention.
  RV 642.6 Janese Swanson Innovative Lives Presentation
1998 March 25
Total Running Time: 5:36
Interview with Swanson in which she discusses her vision for Girl Tech, philosophy of the company and provides advice to inventors. Swanson describes a need for increased financial education for women.

 

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Last Update: 18 Jul 2011

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