The West Virginia University Press will release a new title Oct. 15 that contributor Dr. Larry Sypolt of WVU s Institute for the History of Technology and Industrial Archeology callsthe largest and most comprehensive collection of official bridge-patent information ever published.

American Bridge Patents: The First Century (1790-1890)attempts the monumental task of presenting a record of all patents issued for bridge building by the U.S. Patent Office during its first century of operation.

Because these patent records are often very technical and a bit archaic in the 21 st century, three relevant essays are included in the book.

The first essay by Dr. Emory Kemp, retired WVU professor of civil engineering and history, explores the relevance of patents in regard to bridge building from its 1790 genesis. The second essay by Shelley Birdsong-Maddex, assistant director of corporate and foundation relations for the WVU Foundation, is a history of the 19 th century Patent Office. The final essay by Eric DeLony, chief of the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER), is a personal look at the Patent Office.

In addition, Sypolt presents an introduction to researching bridge patents on the Patent Offices Web site.

One of the major purposes ofAmerican Bridge Patentsis to encourage historians and industrial preservationists to aid in researching and completing the records of all patents for bridges of the 19th century.

Fires at the Patent Office destroyed and scattered many patents and records, and some may still be in relatively unknown or unused archives around the United States.

The book promises to be extremely useful for many individuals and institutions, such as engineers and industrial archeologists, Sypolt said. Over 800 patents are presented in this work as well as many original drawings done for the Patent Office by the designers of the bridges.

According to Kemp, general editor of the book,It provides a ready reference for anyone interested in the history of bridges in the nineteenth century. This material has never before been published.

For more information on the book, visit or call 1-866-WVUPRESS.