John B. Jervis Drawings

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John B. Jervis Drawings
Elevation of the Experiment ("Bogie") Drawing - Image Source

Collection Facts

Dates of Original:
c. 1820 - 1860

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, The Keeper's House in Dobbs Ferry, and other institutions; and used to illustrate numerous books, articles, and brochures.

Scope of Collection

This collection contains design drawings for the Mohawk and Hudson Railroad, the Delaware and Hudson Canal, the Saratoga and Schenectady Railroad, and other early canals and railroads in the United States; New York City's Croton Aqueduct, including the 1848 Harlem River High Bridge; and various locomotive designs.

Special Content:



Digital copies of most of the drawings are available for a fee.  A digital index is available at For more information, please contact Lori Chien at Jervis Public Library.

Additional Information

Scope and Content Source:
The drawings collections of the John B. Jervis collection comprises 367 items in total. Read more about the John B. Jervis collection at the Jervis Public Library in Rome, NY here:

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