The Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention & Innovation
Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, Smithsonian Beanie Illustration
MIND: Documenting Invention

Inventing | Documenting | Things to Collect | Resources


The bound laboratory notebook is an iconic symbol of invention. These ubiquitous volumes serve a number of purposes, but perhaps the most important is as a sequential record of the inventor's work.

Styles of notebooks, both physical and intellectual, vary according to inventors' personalities, and may be part diary, part scrapbook, part experiment log, part legal document, and more. The typical mix of writing and sketching contained in a lab notebook often provides critical insight into and details of a particular invention. Notebooks may also be the only evidence available of an inventor's failures as well as successes. The importance of these invaluable parts of the documentary record cannot be overstated.

See examples from the collections »

Last Update: 27 Oct 2010

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