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Record Unit 7268,  Watkins, J. Elfreth, (John Elfreth),1852-1903,  J. Elfreth Watkins Collection, 1869, 1881-1903, 1953, 1966 and undated

Repository: Smithsonian Institution Archives, Washington, D.C. Contact us at osiaref@si.edu.
Creator: Watkins, J. Elfreth, (John Elfreth),1852-1903
Title: J. Elfreth Watkins Collection
Dates: 1869, 1881-1903, 1953, 1966 and undated
Quantity: 0.3 linear meter.
Collection: Record Unit 7268
Language of Materials: English
Summary:

This collection consists of Watkins' official and personal correspondence concerning the efforts of the Smithsonian to obtain federal appropriations for the establishment of a section of steam transportation in the USNM, the construction of ship models for an exhibit at the Cotton States and International Exposition, and his various appointments at the Smithsonian; an annual report, 1892, for the Section of Transportation and Engineering; biographical material and newspaper clippings; photographs; a history of the Camden and Amboy Railroad, by Isaac L. Dripps; personal memorabilia; correspondence and related documents concerning his research on the history of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company; and various publications by Watkins.

Historical Note

J. Elfreth Watkins (1852-1903), a railroad employee and museum curator, was employed by the Delaware and Hudson Railroad Company as a mining engineer from 1871 to 1872. He then joined the Pennsylvania Railroad Company in 1872 as an Assistant Engineer of Construction. After a disabling accident in 1873, Watkins was employed as a Chief Clerk from 1874 to 1886 for the Pennsylvania Railroad and the Camden and Atlantic Railroad. In 1885, while still a railroad employee, Watkins was offered an honorary curatorial position in the Section of Steam Transportation, Department of Arts and Industries in the United States National Museum (USNM); in 1887 he was promoted to Curator of Transportation. Watkins returned to the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1892 to prepare its exhibit for the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. When the Exposition closed, Watkins joined the staff of the Field Columbian Museum as Director of Industrial Arts. In 1895 he returned to the USNM as Curator of Technological Collections and in 1898 was named Curator of the Division of Technology (Modern Phases). He also served as Engineer of Property, 1888-1889, and Chief of Buildings and Superintendence, 1896-1903, for the USNM.

Descriptive Entry

This collection consists of Watkins' official and personal correspondence concerning the efforts of the Smithsonian to obtain federal appropriations for the establishment of a section of steam transportation in the USNM, the construction of ship models for an exhibit at the Cotton States and International Exposition, Watkins' research on the history of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, and his various appointments at the Smithsonian; an annual report, 1892, for the Section of Transportation and Engineering; biographical material and newspaper clippings; photographs; a history of the Camden and Amboy Railroad by Isaac L. Dripps; personal memorabilia; and publications.

Preferred Citation

Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 7268, Watkins, J. Elfreth, (John Elfreth),1852-1903, J. Elfreth Watkins Collection

Container List

Series 1

GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE, 1869, 1881-1903.

Box 1

Folder 1 A, 1888-1899

Box 1 of 3

Folder 2 B, 1885-1891

Box 1 of 3

Folder 3 C - D, 1886-1892, 1900

Box 1 of 3

Folder 4 E, 1886-1900

Box 1 of 3

Folder 5 G, 1869, 1886-1892

Box 1 of 3

Folder 6 J, 1881-1886

Box 1 of 3

Folder 7 L, 1887-1896

Box 1 of 3

Folder 8 M - N, 1886-1892

Box 1 of 3

Folder 9 P, 1885-1902

Box 1 of 3

Folder 10 R, 1897-1900

Box 1 of 3

Folder 11 S - T, 1886-1903

Box 1 of 3

Folder 12 V - W, 1885-1896

Box 1 of 3

Series 2

ANNUAL REPORT, BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIAL, PHOTOGRAPHS, AND OTHER MATERIAL, 1885-1900, 1953, 1966, AND UNDATED.

Box 1

Folder 13 Acknowledgments of Donations to Smithsonian Institution, 1885, 1888, 1900

Box 1 of 3

Folder 14 Address by Watkins at presentation of Silver Memorial Vase to Willard A. Smith, 1894

Box 1 of 3

Folder 15 Annual Report of the Section of Transportation and Engineering, 1892

Box 1 of 3

Folder 16 Biographies and newspaper clippings, 1886, 1953, 1966 and undated

Box 1 of 3

Folder 17 Business cards, undated

Box 1 of 3

Folder 18 Copy of Will, 1899

Box 1 of 3

Folder 19 Drawing of Proposed "Hall of American Inventions," Paris Exposition, by Watkins and Arthur Watson Sparks, 1898

Box 1 of 3

Folder 20 History of Camden and Amboy Railroad by Isaac L. Dripps, undated

Box 1 of 3

Folder 21 Lecture on Transportation, undated

Box 1 of 3

Folder 22 Letters of Introduction, 1886

Box 1 of 3

Folder 23 List of Papers by J. Elfreth Watkins in Division of Transportation, undated

Box 1 of 3

Folder 24 Membership Certificates and Applications, 1895-1896

Box 1 of 3

Folder 25 Outline for an exhibit on the development of transportation (?), undated

Box 1 of 3

Folder 26 Photographs, undated

Box 1 of 3

Folder 27 Scrapbook concerning Honorary Degree, 1900. Stevens Institute of Technology awarded Watkins the Doctor of Engineering degree in 1900.

Box 1 of 3

Folder 28 Collected Notes on Steamboat Navigation

Box 1 of 3

Series 3

HISTORY OF THE PENNSYLVANIA RAILROAD COMPANY, 1892-1901

Box 2

Folders 1-4 Correspondence and related documents concerning the history of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, 1892-1901

Box 2 of 3

Series 4

PUBLICATIONS, 1884-1900

Box 3

Folder 1 J. Elfreth Watkins, "1834-1884 Semi-Centennial of the Pennsylvania Railroad," 1884

Box 3 of 3

Folder 2 J. Elfreth Watkins, "Report on the Section of Steam Transportation in the U.S. National Museum for the Year Ending June 30, 1886"

Box 3 of 3

Folder 3 J. Elfreth Watkins, "Report on the Section of Transportation and Engineering in the U.S. National Museum, 1887"

Box 3 of 3

Folder 4 J. Elfreth Watkins, "Report on the Section of Transportation and Engineering in the U.S. National Museum," 1888

Box 3 of 3

Folder 5 J. Elfreth Watkins, "Contributions of the Department of Transportation and Engineering to the Ohio Valley Centennial Exhibition, 1888;" Reports on the SI and USNM Participation at the Cincinnati and Marietta Exposition, 1888; "The Evolution of the Railway Passenger Car"

Box 3 of 3

Folder 6 J. Elfreth Watkins, "Report on the Section of Transportation and Engineering in the U.S. National Museum," 1889

Box 3 of 3

Folder 7 J. Elfreth Watkins, "Report on the Section of Transportation and Engineering in the U.S. National Museum," 1890

Box 3 of 3

Folder 8 J. Elfreth Watkins, "Development of the American Rail and Track," 1890

Box 3 of 3

Folder 9 J. Elfreth Watkins, "The Log of the Savannah," 1890

Box 3 of 3

Folder 10 J. Elfreth Watkins, "The Place of the Electrical Industries in History," 1891

Box 3 of 3

Folder 11 J. Elfreth Watkins, "The Ramsden Dividing Engine," 1891

Box 3 of 3

Folder 12 J. Elfreth Watkins, "The Importance of Collecting and Preserving the Relics of the Beginnings of the Telegraph," 1891

Box 3 of 3

Folder 13 J. Elfreth Watkins, "The Camden and Amboy Railroad," 1891; and Biographical Sketches of John Stevens, Robert L. Stevens, Edwin A. Stevens, John S. Darcy, John P. Jackson, and Robert F. Stockton, 1892

Box 3 of 3

Folder 14 J. Elfreth Watkins, "The Development of the American Rail and Track as Illustrated by the Collection in the U.S. National Museum," 1891

Box 3 of 3

Folder 15 J. Elfreth Watkins, "The Beginnings of Engineering," 1891

Box 3 of 3

Folder 16 J. Elfreth Watkins, "John Stevens and His Sons," 1892

Box 3 of 3

Folder 17 J. Elfreth Watkins, "The Transportation and Lifting of Heavy Bodies by the Ancients," 1900

Box 3 of 3