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A number of resources originally digitized by the history department at the University of Rochester, are available here.


Carnegie, Andrew James Watt New York, Doubleday, Page, 1905. 241 pages.
A biography by one of America's great industrialists. It should not be surprising that successful people like Carnegie studied the lives of other successful people. This biography is also available online.

Law, Rodney James James Watt and the Separate Condenser, London H.M.S.O., 1969. A Science Museum (Great Britain) monograph. 46 pages.

Marshall, Thomas H. James Watt (1736-1819), London, 1925. This biography is also available online.

Sproule, Anna James Watt, Exley Publications, Herts, UK, 1992. Easy to read for the late elementary or middle school. Lots of photos and pictures. 64 pages.

Robinson, E, Musson, A.E. James Watt and the Steam Revolution, Adams and Dart, London, 1969. 228 pages.

Steam Engine Bibliography

Thomas Savery, A Miner's Friend, available online.

Robert H. Thurston, A History of the Growth of the Steam-Engine originally published 1878, Ithaca, N.Y., Cornell University Press; London, H. Milford, Oxford University Press, 1939. 490 pages. Thurston was a professor of mechanical engineering, and this book has detailed descriptions of the engines from Watt's time and later, as well as Watt's other inventions. The book includes a good description of the valve mechanism of the Boulton and Watts Albion Mills engines and the parallel motion device. Available online.

Robert Stuart, A Descriptive History of the Steam Engine, London, J. Knight and H. Lacey, 1824. 228 pages. Stuart was a civil engineer. Stuart gives a lot of detail on the the operational details of the engines and the portion on Watt occupies about 45 pages in the center of the book. Savery's pump, Newcomen's early pump, and Watt's pumps are described in some of the best detail compared to other books listed here.

Web Sites

Note: These sites open in new windows. Simply close the windows to return to this site.

Newcomen and (Watt) engine This site is from a professor who visited the Henry Ford museum and provides photos of some of the same Newcomen and Boulton-Watt pumps displayed on this web site.

Energy Hall - Online Exhibition from the Science Museum, South Kensington, London, UK. An excellent overview of some of the first steam engines.

See the engines work - a very well done set of animations showing how some of the early engines operated.

Making the Modern World - (click 'Launch' after the page loads). Another fabulous set of animations and background created by the Science Museum, South Kensington, London, UK. This site also has animations of the steam engine. Explore the link to biographical data to find photographs of Watt's original condenser and the Newcomen engine that first inspired Watt to pursue the thoughts that lead to the separate condenser. The animations include a humorous re-creation of Watt's walk where the invention was conceived.

History of steam engines This site has an overview of the history of steam engines. One of the highlights is the animations linked below:

Newcomen engine This page offers a wonderful animation of an early Newcomen engine in action so that you can watch the steam, water and piston. The engine illustrated here is one of the older style Newcomen engines with the boiler under the steam cylinder.

Watt engine This page also has a wonderful animation of an early Watt engine in action.

History of the Steam Engine - HopkinThomasProject   ThomasNet

Updated 11/24/12 ,Copyright 2001-2015, Carl T. Lira, lira@egr.msu.edu. All rights reserved.
Prepared as a supplement to Introductory Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics.