Monday, July 12, 2010


As genealogists in the “Internet Age”, we have many different tools we can use from the comfort of our home.

Patents and Trademarks are an interesting area of research that can bring surprises about your ancestors.

In the GeneaBlog group, there are many different topics thrown out there to give genealogists/bloggers ideas.  This week, in the 52 Weeks to Better Genealogy series, the challenge was given to visit the United States Patent and Trademark Office web site ( or Google Patent Search (  The exercise during this series isn’t so much to do research, but to become aware of what’s out there.

Well, I found what was out there.  Patent 1214144 exactly.  My grandfather, William Birdle Elam, filed an application on May 1, 1916.  The official patent was granted on Jan. 30, 1917 for “new and useful Improvements in Steering Devices for Automobiles.”  Exactly what this was flew in one ear and other the other, but I thought this was interesting.

How many times have we seen something and thought, “I could have figure out how to do that”?  Take a look at these sites – maybe your ancestor did already.

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