In 1790, the United States Congress passed a bill establishing the Patent Board, an entity responsible for conferring rights to inventors for their inventions, a process known as “issuing patents.” Prior to this time, colonies and states issued some patents, either as private acts or in accordance with state or colony-level laws, until the federal government eventually saw the need for a national patent system. Patent files can reveal many details about an ancestor, such as employment information, the nature of his or her work, intellectual abilities, socioeconomic status, and the names of business associates and family members. Although often overlooked, patent records can be valuable genealogical resources.
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