James Maxwell papers
Held at: University of Delaware Library Special Collections [Contact Us]181 South College Avenue, Newark, DE 19717-5267
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Delaware Library Special Collections. 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
James Riddle Maxwell, a resident of Newark, Delaware, and a civil engineer who worked for significant railroads in the American West and South America, was born in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, in 1836.
He attended Hyatt's Military Academy at Chester and then studied at Delaware College and Polytechnic College in 1860. After he graduated in 1862, Maxwell moved to Newark, Delaware, where he began his career as a civil engineer. Employed first by the Pennsylvania Railroad, he later traveled to the western United States as chief of an exploration and survey party for the Union Pacific and Northern Pacific railroads. Maxwell preserved this experience in an unpublished manuscript titled "Incidents in an Engineer's Life in the Far West."
In 1870 Maxwell married Harriet (Hattie) Mitchell (1836-?) and subsequently moved to Peru where he worked for several years. Maxwell was chief engineer of the Chimbota Railroad and the Obras Publicos; he also served as chief engineer of the Central Railroad of Peru which was commonly called the Oroya railway. With a summit at 15,666 feet above sea level, the Oroya railway climbed higher than any other in the world. On December 22, 1874, four years after arriving in Peru, the Maxwell's only daughter, Jane (Jennie), was born. Both Hattie and James Maxwell recount their experiences in Peru in personal diaries, letters, and notebooks.
In 1902, Maxwell retired from engineering and returned to Newark, Delaware, where he compiled personal and professional reminiscences of his career in the West and Peru. After a few years of failing health, he died at his home Wilkins Terrace, on April 7, 1912.
Biographical information derives from material in the collection, including an undated obituary in Box 7, F17.
The James R. Maxwell Papers consist of the personal, professional, and family papers of James Maxwell, a resident of Newark, Delaware, and a civil engineer who worked for significant railroads in the American West and South America in the late 19th century.
The collection spans the dates 1860-1949, with the bulk of the material from 1867-1900, and illuminates Maxwell's and his family's experiences in Delaware, the American West, Peru, and other countries through which they traveled.
The Maxwell Papers include his student lecture notes; professional notebooks and drawings; diaries and accounts; and manuscripts for essays, speeches, and an unpublished autobiography. Family papers include household account books; diaries and albums kept by Hattie Maxwell and her daughter; and genealogical material. Also housed in the Maxwell papers are printed materials, primarily relating to professional engineering, and a collection of photographs and lithographs. In addition to family photographs, there are commercially produced photographs of scenery and native peoples in the West and Peru, as well as photographs taken of railroad construction and a set of lithographic prints commissioned by the Union Pacific during western surveys of 1864 and 1865.
- Box 1, 3-11: Shelved in SPEC MSS manuscript boxes
- Box 2: Shelved in SPEC MSS record center cartons
- Box 12: Shelved in SPEC MSS oversize boxes (17 inches)
- Box 13: Shelved in SPEC MSS manuscript boxes (1 inch)
- Box 14 (removals): Shelved in SPEC MSS shoeboxes
- Removals: Shelved in SPEC MSS oversize boxes (32 inches)
- Removals: Shelved in SPEC MSS oversize mapcases
Gift of Homer Riddle Lee, 1961-1965.
Processed by Kim Sebold, 1989. Revised by Kelly Baum, February 1994. Encoded by Thomas Pulhamus, March 2010, and Lora J. Davis, September 2011.
- University of Delaware Library Special Collections
- Finding Aid Author
- University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
- Finding Aid Date
- 2010 March 3
- Access Restrictions
The collection is open for research.
- Use Restrictions
Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections, University of Delaware Library, http://library.udel.edu/spec/askspec/
circa 200 items
Arranged chronologically. Generally directed to either James or Hattie Maxwell. James' correspondents include his father, H.M. McCartney, Edward Flint, Lucy Flint, and Henry Riddle. Hattie's include Lucy Flint, Carey Atkinson, Gertrude Parker, and Hattie's sister Amanda. Also contains letters from James Maxwell to various businessmen.Physical Description
Arranged chronologically. Written and sent from Newark, Delaware, to James while he was on assignment for the Union Pacific Railroad in the West and in Peru; generally concerning daily life and family news.Physical Description
Arranged chronologically. Written by James while on assignment to Peru and Montana, concerning railroad progress and daily life.Physical Description
Arranged chronologically. Primarily letters posted from Peru.Physical Description
Includes some letters to Hattie's sister.
Letters to mother and sister in a hand-sewn notebook.
Arranged chronologically. Record of daily events and expenses from travel in the American West and Peru, primarily discussing progress of railroad projects.Physical Description
Railroad progress, establishment of the town of Cheyenne, Wyoming, brief mention of Indian attacks.
Railroad progress, movement of camps, expenses.
Travel by stagecoach to Salt Lake City, Utah; daily labor, weather reports; memoranda pages contain notes on elevation between Omaha and Sacramento.
Work progress, lines run, weather, expenses; Oregon, Idaho, western territories. Postage stamp enclosed in rear pocket of the diary.
Work progress, weather, calculations; enclosures.
Travel to and arrival in Peru; enclosures.
Notes arrival of letters from home.
Work progress in Peru.
Includes addresses; home life in Delaware; travel to Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., New York, Kansas, and Danville, Ohio.
Work progress, camp life, expenses; locations in Boise and Pocatello, Idaho; Butte, Montana; and Utah.
Entries primarily inventories.
Travel to South America; boat trip returning to the United States with stops at Cartagena, Colon, Panama, Costa Rica; home life in Newark, Delaware.
Work trip to Tuscaloosa; travel to Philadelphia, New York; home life in Newark; weather reports.
Weather, daily reports in Newark.
Weather, miles walked daily in Newark.
Weather, miles walked daily, Hattie's illness, trip to Chicago.
Weather, recovery from an illness, trip to Cleveland.
Weather, addresses, monthly accounts with magazine subscriptions.
Building a new home, weather, addresses, magazine accounts.
Few entries: weather, addresses, magazine accounts.
James Maxwell's autograph notes taken during various courses while enrolled at Delaware College and the Polytechnic College. Titles from covers of notebooks.Physical Description
Laid in is a letter from Maxwell to his sister with response to her views of President Abraham Lincoln.
Includes student essays by Maxwell on "Parallels in Rhetoric" with such topics as the United States and England, eloquence of the bar and the pulpit, Napoleon, and Washington.
Also contains an essay titled "The Means of Supplying Cities and Towns with Water."
Monthly expenses for individuals and household, maintained by Maxwell until his death in 1912 and thereafter by Jane, his daughter. Record of daily expenses as well as groceries, clothing, household goods, and a few luxury items.Physical Description
Includes Western Union telegram from J. Blierkinsderfer, Jr., June 3, 1868.
Pocohontas Consolidated Collieries, General Gas and Electric, General Motors, Metropolitan Edison Co., and Pennsylvania Railroad.
Includes notes on the Nicaraguan Canal.
Includes some inserts.
Includes some inserts.
Includes some inserts.
Includes a payroll account, weather record, accounting table, and a map
Includes survey reports, weather records, a supplementary report, and a monthly property return report
Includes survey reports, progress reports, measurements, specifications for construction, and estimates of work remaining.
Includes a payroll account, a time roll account, a construction agreement, and a report for a proposed extension.
Includes documents on food rations for workers, procedures for surveying, and a map.
Inserts include a map of the lot where the Newark Trust Building was erected and a related note; and a map of the land condemned for the new school house, accompanied by a summary of the land status.
Includes notes on railroad stations, tunnels, etc.
Contains information about descendants of Samuel Young, the Greenleaf family, and ancestors of Harriet (Mitchell) Maxwell.
Obituaries (including James R. Maxwell and John Flint), a Spanish notebook, notes, announcements, notebook of home remedies, articles, letters, poems, and transcript of a lecture on school districting.
Includes a letter and a copy of the poem.
Includes Poiree Needle Dam Plan and Festival Schedule.
Autobiographical account of Maxwell's experiences working on the Union Pacific Railroad. Includes Indian attacks, travel, work of the railroad survey crews, and daily life in the West.
Family and colleagues from studios in Wilmington and Philadelphia, including James R. Maxwell, Harriet M. Maxwell, Jane (Jennie) R. Maxwell; and A.L. Kennedy, president of the Polytechnic College.Physical Description
Four portraits from the studio of E. Courret and two from the studio of Ricardo Villaalba, both in Lima. Also includes a portrait of Thomas C. Darant, "vice- president and general manager of the Union Pacific R'y when it was being built."Physical Description
"Taken at the Gallery of Crockwell & Ottinger, agent for copying and enlarging pictures...Salt Lake City."Physical Description
Owghie Land and Irrigation Company, Dam and Canal on Bu? River, IdahoPhysical Description
Photographers Richardson y Salazar, Courret Hermanos. Including one photograph, "Cathedral of Lima, revolution of June 1872" which shows a crowd in front of the cathedral; and three photographs of "antique pottery."Physical Description
One image of "Virgin and Child" not attributed to VLR.Physical Description
One photograph captioned "Jennie Riddle Maxwell was born at Chuquicara, December 22, 1874."Physical Description
One photograph captioned "West face of Galera Tunnel at the summit of the Andes, elevation over 15,600 ft."Physical Description
"Group on S.S. Alene (Liverpool) on way to Carthagina"Physical Description
Includes photographs of Chimbote Railroad, Central Railroad of Peru; Kingston, Jamaica; and Cartagena, 1899.
Both sets produced by the Major & Knapp Eng. Mfg. & Lith. Co, Broadway, N.Y.
Various photographs of Peru, mounted on boards, 8 1/2 x 9 1/4 inchesPhysical Description
Picture frames, covers of writing tablets, etc.