John A. Roebling's Sons Company Records
Held at: Princeton University Library: Manuscripts Division [Contact Us]
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Princeton University Library: Manuscripts Division. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
The John A. Roebling's Sons Company was a wire rope manufacturing business, established in 1848 in Trenton, New Jersey, by John Augustus Roebling (1806-1869), a German-born American civil engineer best known for his wire rope suspension bridge designs, including the Brooklyn Bridge and the Niagara River Gorge Bridge. Working in Western Pennsylvania during his early career, Roebling turned his efforts toward the manufacture of strong but flexible twisted wire rope as an alternative to the unreliable hemp rope that was then being used to haul barges over railways across steep terrain as a part of the area's extensive canal system. Roebling's invention soon was being used by the Allegheny Portage Railroad, and he received a patent for his novel method of manufacturing wire ropes in 1842. Upon his death in 1869, Roebling left the company to his three sons, Washington Augustus Roebling (1837-1926), Ferdinand W. Roebling (1842-1917), and Charles G. Roebling (1849-1918), who built their father's company into the world's leading producer of wire rope, with four factories and nearly 8,000 employees at its peak. Ferdinand W. Roebling's two sons, Karl G. Roebling and Ferdinand W. Roebling, Jr., headed the company after the death of their father in 1917, followed by his grandsons, Joseph M. Roebling and Ferdinand W. Roebling III, and later Charles Roebling's grandson, Charles Roebling Tyson, who joined the company in 1937 and served as its president from 1944 until 1953, when the family sold the business to the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company, which operated it until 1974.
The collection consists of 10 bound volumes of administrative records, financial ledgers, meeting minutes, professional correspondence, product specifications, and clippings of the John A. Roebling's Sons Company of Trenton, New Jersey. Materials include three volumes of typescript copies of John A. Roebling's professional correspondence from 1831 to 1865 with Ferdinand Baehr, Charles Swan, and others, including some translations from the German. Also present are a company address book documenting the company's business relationships and contacts in the 1890s; a 1920 company manufacturing specifications catalog for wire rope, with two related pamphlets, inscribed by Siegfried Roebling; Ferdinand W. Roebling, Jr.'s business ledger of price estimates and product specifications for various orders and projects in the early 1900s; a minute book for the Roebling Construction Company (1899-1915) with related correspondence regarding its incorporation and dissolution; a volume of Monnot and Prior U.S. Patents for Compound Conductors (1821-1914), with correspondence interleaved regarding John A. Roebling's Sons Company's potential purchase of patents for wire rope manufacture; and a two-volume scrapbook on the German civil engineer and bridge-builder Karl Bernhard, with clippings in German covering his activities from 1896 to 1934.
Gift of Professor David P. Billington, 2014.
This collection was processed by Kelly Bolding in August, 2014. Finding aid written by Kelly Bolding in August, 2014.
No materials were separated during 2014 processing.
- Bridges -- Design and construction -- 19th century
- Civil engineers -- New Jersey -- 19th century -- Correspondence
- Industrialists -- New Jersey -- 19th century -- Correspondence
- Suspension bridges -- Design and construction -- 19th century
- Wire industry -- History -- New Jersey -- 19th century -- Sources
- Wire-rope industry -- History -- New Jersey -- 19th century -- Sources
- Manuscripts Division
- Finding Aid Author
- Kelly Bolding
- Finding Aid Date
- Access Restrictions
The collection is open for research.
- Use Restrictions
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.
Includes notes about wire sizes, product information and specifications, and cost estimates for various orders and projects, along with some related clippings.Physical Description
Includes minutes of the first meeting of the Roebling Construction Company on the occasion of its incorporation on January 13th, 1899, along with meeting minutes up until its dissolution in October of 1915. The volume also contains some loose letters regarding dissolution proceedings.Physical Description
John Ferreol Monnot was known for his invention of the Monnot process for manufacture of copper-clad steel wire products. This volume of collected patents includes some related correspondence regarding John A. Roebling's Sons Company's consideration of whether to purchase certain patents related to wire manufacturing.Physical Description
Volume I covers the years 1896-1912. The front matter contains a holograph preface and index for both volumes, written by Karl Bernhard in 1936.Physical Description
Volume II covers the years 1912-1934. Includes a letter, tucked in to the front cover, in German from a representative of Mit Deutschem Gruß Deutsche Gesellschaft für Bauwesen Schriftleitung to Karl Bernhard requesting permission to publish his essay in the journal Staat und Technik, dated October 27, 1933.Physical Description
Also includes two smaller booklets, which were tucked inside, on product specifications for "Wire Rope Strand Sections." Inscribed by Siegfried Roebling on the inside cover.Physical Description