We have designed a field emission microscope (FEM) coupled to a chemical vapor deposition (CVD) reactor in order to observe directly the growths of individual carbon nanotubes (CNTs) from the nucleation stage. Catalyst metals are first deposited in situ on a sharp metallic tip during direct FEM imaging and formed into nanoparticles by dewetting. CNTs are then grown directly on these nanoparticles by CVD in acetylene or other hydrocarbon gases at appropriate temperatures (600-900°C). The FEM patterns are formed by electrons emitted from individual CNT caps. The videos are analyzed to extract the growth rates and models. In situ field emission I/V measurements are also performed. The most interesting new discovery is that the CNTs often rotate axially during growth, thus strongly supporting a recently proposed model of ‘screw-dislocation-like’ (SDL) mechanism. The event is not rare as four rotating CNT growths versus six non-rotating growths were observed. In one case the CNT rotated quite uniformly ∼180 times during its 11 min growth. This observation should aid researchers to better understand and control the growth of SWNTs.