Engineer and inventor; developed many applications of steam power, including bicycles, cars and boats in the late 1800s. The Locomobile Company, with Whitney was chief engineer, produced several thousand steam cars, ca. 1900. Designed the compound steam engine, which powered about 300 U.S. Navy anti-submarine ships in World War I. Received about 150 patents on his inventions, a number of which he sold rights to.
Correspondence: 36 holograph letters to John H. Bacon from Whitney (Bacon apparently began documenting Whitney's career in the 1950s). Another 30 letters involve former associates of Whitney, particularly Nathaniel Henry Cooledge (called "Oliver"), a trusted foreman and assistant for 50 years. Also: agreements, contracts and patents for Whitney's inventions; news clippings, photoprints, etc. A lengthy questionnaire prepared by Bacon and completed by Whitney in 1955 gives information on major inventions and projects and his personal life.
2016 addendum (2016.3093) : Contains over 150 letters, fifty photographs, and one booklet advertising Whitney's steam-powered automobile. Ninety of the letters ore from Whitney to his friend Edward Middleton and the remaining twelve are from Middleton to Whitney. The letters discuss Whitney's ongoing work in developing and manufacturing steam enines for boats and yachts. Some of the letters are illustrated.
George Eli Whitney Papers, 1898-1957, Archives Center, National Museum of American History
1992.3196 (NMAH Acc.)
2016.3093 (NMAH Acc.)
Unrestricted research use onsite. Researchers must handle unprotected photographs with gloves