Collection Facts

10 items
Dates of Original: 
c. 1820 - 1860
Collection Owner:
NYH Topic Area(s):

Historical Context

John B. Jervis (1795-1885) was America's leading consulting engineer of the antebellum era (1820 - 1860). Jervis was a pioneer in the development of canals and railroads for the expanding United States. He designed and supervised the construction of five of America's earliest railroads, was chief engineer of three major canal projects, designed the first locomotive to run in America, designed and built the forty-one mile Croton Aqueduct (New York City's water supply for fifty years: 1842 - 1891), and the Boston Aqueduct. Jervis authored a book on economics, The Question of Labor and Capital (1877); helped found a local industry, the Rome Iron Mills; and, of course, is the founder of Rome's public library.
In the fall of 1986 the New York State Education Department, Division of Library Development, awarded Jervis Library a $10,300 Conservation / Preservation Discretionary Grant for the preservation of the drawings and papers of John Bloomfield Jervis. Assistant Director Keith Kinna wrote the grant and was the project coordinator.
Project Consultant John Dean, Conservation Librarian, Cornell University, advised that Jervis’ drawings were in most urgent need of attention. Immediate flattening, cleaning, deacidification, and proper storage were required. This task was assigned to Patrick Reynolds, then Assistant Curator at the Rome Historical Society. Mr. Reynolds also annotated briefly, and classified, 378 of the drawings. Dr. F. Daniel Larkin, Jervis scholar and biographer at SUNY Oneonta, assisted Mr. Reynolds in classifying the drawings by project.
The drawings have since been featured in exhibits at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Hudson River Museum, and other institutions; and used to illustrate numerous books, articles, and brochures.
Slides and annotations of most of the drawings are available for interlibrary loan. A digital index is available, and printouts from that are available upon request. For further information please please contact Lori Chien at Jervis Public Library.

Scope of Collection

This collection contains design drawings for the Croton, Oriskany, and Erie Canal Acqueducts, as well as plans for road bridges, a canal lock, a distributing reservoir, and a dam. Also included is a plan for a truck that guides locomotives.