Guide to the Janese Swanson Innovative Lives Presentation and Interview
NMAH.AC.0642

Administrative Information

Repository Information

Archives Center, National Museum of American History, 2009

P.O. Box 37012
 Suite 1100, MRC 601
 Washington, D.C., 20013-7012
 Phone: 202-633-3270
 archivescenter@si.edu

Conditions Governing Access note

The collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use note

Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning intellectual property rights. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions. Copies of oral history releases on file.

Custodial History note

This collection was recorded by the Innovative Lives Program of the Jerome and Dorothy Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation on March 25, 1998. The Innovative Lives series brings Museum visitors and American inventors together to discuss inventions and the creative process and to experiment and play with hands-on activities related to each inventor’s product.

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

The collection was transferred to the Archives Center by the Jerome and Dorothy Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation in 1998.

Processing Information note

Processed by Kimberly Tarr (project archivist), December, 2009; supervised by Alison Oswald, archivist.

Return to Table of Contents »


Summary Information

Repository
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Creator
Jerome and Dorothy Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation.
Creator - (interviewee).
Swanson, Jackie
Creator - (interviewee).
Swanson, Janese
Title
Janese Swanson Innovative Lives Presentation and Oral History
ID
NMAH.AC.0642
Date
1998
Extent
2 Cubic feet; 4 boxes, including BetaCam SP and one ½” VHS videotapes
Language
English
Abstract
Janese Swanson developed video game software, a website, and an array of toys and gadgets aimed at making technology more accessible to girls. The collection contains approximately six hours of original and reference video footage of Swanson’s Innovative Lives Presentation, in which she discussed her background and demonstrated her inventions with her daughter, Jackie. The material also includes a brief interview.

Preferred Citation note

Janese Swanson Innovative Lives Presentation and Interview, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution.

Return to Table of Contents »


Biographical/Historical note

Janese Swanson, a native of California, was the founder and CEO of Girl Tech (1995), a company created to bring girls into the world of technology. The second of six children, Swanson was raised by her mother after her father died in the Vietnam War. From a young age, Swanson had an interest in technology, often tinkering with household appliances. Building on her experience as a flight attendant and school teacher, Swanson served on the team at Broderbund Software that developed the video game Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? She produced Playroom and Treehouse, early learning software, and has developed award-winning curricula, electronic toys, and books that encourage girls to explore technology and inventions. Some of Swanson’s toy inventions include the Snoop Stopper Keepsake Box, Me-Mail Message Center, Zap N’ Lock Journal, YakBak, and Swap-It Locket. Her publications include Tech Girl’s Internet Adventures, Tech Girl’s Activity Book, and Girlzine: A Magazine for the Global Girl. Swanson received her Ed.D. in Organization and Leadership Technology in 1997 from the University of San Francisco.

The Jerome and Dorothy Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation was founded in 1995 at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History through a generous gift from the Lemelson Foundation. The Center’s mission is to document, interpret, and disseminate information about invention and innovation; to encourage inventive creativity in young people; and to foster an appreciation for the central role invention and innovation play in the history of the United States. The Innovative Lives series brings together museum visitors and, especially, school aged children, and American inventors to discuss inventions and the creative process and to experiment and play with hands-on activities related to each inventor’s product. This collection was recorded by the Innovative Lives Program of the Jerome and Dorothy Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation.

Return to Table of Contents »


Scope and Contents note

This collection contains six (6) hours of original (BetaCam SP) recordings, six (6) hours of master (BetaCam SP) recordings, and six (6) hours of reference (VHS) copies documenting the life and work of Dr. Janese Swanson, inventor of toys, books, a website, magazine, and software. This video documentation was created on March 25, 1998. The recordings include a presentation by Swanson for the Lemelson Center’s Innovative Lives Program. Audience participants are students from Thoreau Middle School (Vienna, Virginia), Options Charter School (Washington, D.C.), Carrollton Elementary School (New Carrollton, Maryland), and Rosa Parks Middle School (Olney, Maryland). The collection also contains a brief interview with Dr. Swanson.

Return to Table of Contents »


Arrangement note

The collection is organized into three series.

Series 1, Original Videos, 1998

Series 2, Master Videos, 1998

Series 3, Reference Videos (viewing copies), 1998

Return to Table of Contents »


Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Girltech.

Genre(s)

  • Interviews--1980-2000.
  • Oral history--1990-2000.
  • Videotapes--1990-2000.

Subject(s)

  • Computer software--Development
  • Inventions--20th century
  • Inventors--20th century
  • Toys--20th century

Return to Table of Contents »


Collection Inventory

 Series 1: Original Video, 1998

Box Video

Janese Swanson Innovative Lives Presentation, 1998 March 25

Beta Cam SP original video cassettes with a total running time of six hours.

1 OV 642.1-6

Return to Table of Contents »


 Series 2: Master Videos, 1998

Box Video

Janese Swanson Innovative Lives Presentation, 1998 March 25

Beta Cam SP master video cassettes with total running time of six hours.

2 MV 642.1-6

Return to Table of Contents »


 Series 3: Reference Videos (viewing copies), 1998

Box Video

Janese Swanson Innovative Lives Presentation, 1998 March 25

Total Running Time: 1:00:08, Camera A

Martha Morris, National Museum of American History deputy director, provides opening remarks for the 13th Innovative Lives program and introduces Swanson. Swanson discusses how her desire to introduce technology to girls led her to create the company, Girl Tech. She notes that parents purchase technology twice as much for boys than girls. Presentation includes demonstration of Girl Tech website and search engine. Assisted by her eleven-year-old daughter, Jackie, Swanson reviews various toys and games geared toward young women and describes how her inventions differ. Answers questions from students.

2 RV 642.1

Janese Swanson Innovative Lives Presentation and Interview, 1998 March 25

Total Running Time 54:02, Camera A

Continuation of presentation that begins on 642.1. Swanson provides advice for girls interested in becoming inventors. Outlines how her background and experience as a school teacher and flight attendant contributed to the creation of “Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?” Responding to questions, Swanson discusses the development of her ideas and the freedom that comes from creating. In the second presentation, Swanson discusses growing up as one of six children. Her daughter, Jackie, discusses “Take Your Daughter to Work” Day. Swanson shows advertisements and encourages discussion. Through education, she discovered that there are more differences among girls than between girls and boys. Disappointed in the way in which toy companies have marketed to girls, she created her company, Girl Tech.

2 RV 642.2

Janese Swanson Innovative Lives Presentation, 1998 March 25

Total Running Time: 29:18, Camera B

Same information as RV 642.1, but shot at a different angle and includes audience reaction. Bars, tones, and time code.

2 RV 642.3

Janese Swanson Innovative Lives Presentation, 1998 March 25

Total Running Time: 29:52, Camera B

Same information as RV 642.1, but shot at a different angle and includes audience reaction.

2 RV 642.4

Janese Swanson Innovative Lives Presentation, 1998 March 25

Total Running Time: 37:35, Camera A

Much of the content is the same as RV 642.1 but shot at a different angle to include Swanson speaking. Toys and games are displayed. Swanson discusses specific toys currently on the market, such as Dream Phone and Mall Madness. Introduces her voice recognition invention.

2 RV 642.5

Janese Swanson Innovative Lives Presentation, 1998 March 25

Total Running Time: 5:36

Interview with Swanson in which she discusses her vision for Girl Tech, philosophy of the company and provides advice to inventors. Swanson describes a need for increased financial education for women.

2 RV 642.6

Return to Table of Contents »