Eli Whitney Museum


When he was visiting a plantation, Eli Whitney (1765-1825) saw that the only cotton that would grow was the almost useless green seed variety. Ten hours of hand work was needed to separate one point of lint from three pounds of the small tough seeds. After studying the workers’ hand movements, Whitney put on his engineering hat and designed a machine that duplicated these efforts. The rest is history. The Eli Whitney Museum tells the story of this remarkable American engineer who invented the Cotton Gin and the modern manufacturing process of making identical, interchangeable pieces. His work helped usher in the Industrial Revolution.

Activity Details

Activity Type:Trips and Destinations
Discipline:Industrial & Manufacturing
Topic(s):Technology/Materials
Grade:K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12
Time:Full day

Fun Fact:Eil Whitney demonstrated his first model cotton gin to a few friends. In one hour, he turned out the full day's work of several workers. With no more than the promise that he would patent the machine and make a few more, the witnesses immediately ordered whole fields to be planted with green seed cotton. Whitney got his patent in 1794.