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01 December 2014

Did Your Ancestor Get a Patent?

Did your relative receive a patent from the United States Patent office? Google has digital images of United States patents with full-text search capabilities. Your ancestor may have received a patent without any story of the patent passing down to the current generation.

You can search 7 million patents at Google and even download images and schematics.

The text of older patents was converted to digital format by automatic OCR technology. Names and places may have been interpreted incorrectly so some clever searching may be in order.


  1. I've found three patents granted to relatives long ago. The intricate drawings ignite the interest of young family members. Some are engineering students in their twenties.

    1. That's a really good thought. Sometimes images help strike interest. And surveys and patents may appeal to those of us with an interest in math/science ;-)

  2. My 2nd great grandmother received a patent in 1874 for an improved wash-board. A family story says that she sold the patent to raise money to pay investigative and legal fees to exonerate her brother. He was was imprisoned for life in the Nebraska State Penitentiary in 1883 after being found guilty of murder. He was pardoned by the governor in 1891 on the basis of the new evidence.

  3. My 8th great grandfather, Joseph Jenkes (Jenks) helped establish the first Patent Office in Massachusetts and was awarded the first patent for the scythe.