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Old Colony & Fall River Railroad company records

Call Number: MS 378

Scope and Contents

These papers of the Old Colony Railroad Company are composed of correspondence, legal and financial papers, and other business papers. The Old Colony, a Massachusetts based company, consolidated in 1846 with the Fall River Railroad Company to form the Old Colony and Fall River Railroad Company. In 1862 this company consolidated with the Newport Railroad Company and was renamed the Old Colony and Newport Railroad Company; the incorporation included a steamboat company. In 1872 the company returned to its original name, Old Colony Railroad Company.

The correspondence covers the years 1847 to 1876, the bulk being from the 1860s. Topics discussed included negotiations for the various mergers, purchase of land and equipment, routine business matters, and meetings of the board of directors. There are also letters presenting gifts to the officers of the company and requests for passes, one of which is from Julia Ward Howe (1866 Mar 28). Other notables who have letters in this collection are George Stillman Hillard, who writes regarding a book left on a train (1865 Nov 1), and Samuel Hill, a famous Boston shipbuilder, who discusses financial matters (1867 Jul 3). The correspondence also includes several family letters of Alexander Holmes, president of the company, from his wife and sons.

Among the business papers are two account books. One from 1861 has a list of shareholders and number of shares held by each; the other, 1865-1866, tabulates finances for stations along the railroad. Other business papers include minutes, reports, and briefs of directors' meetings; lawyers briefs, testimony, evidence, and notes; by-laws of the company; lists of the directors; various financial papers; and a large number of freight bills. There are also printed legal papers and forms, tickets, passes, newspaper clippings, diagrams of iron bridges and of a train turn-table, and thirteen maps of train routes, station yards, and so forth. Finally, the collection contains two profiles of train beds, one of the road from Fall River to Newport, the other showing the road along the dock at Fall River.

These papers were formerly the personal property of Alexander Holmes. They were purchased from R. S. Wormster for Yale University in 1941.


  • 1836-1893


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright status for collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased from R. S. Wormser, 1941.


5 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


The records date largely from the merger period and include correspondence, reports, financial and legal papers, diagrams relating to the railroads and miscellaneous printed matter such as passes, tickets and clippings. Included in the correspondence are several family letters of Alexander Holmes, president of the company. Other correspondents are Julia Ward Howe, George Stillman Hillard and Samuel Hill. Of the two account books, one lists the shareholders and the other tabulates revenues for stations along the railroad.

Biographical / Historical

The Old Colony & Fall River Railroad Company was based in Massachusetts, and originally called the Old Colony Railroad Company. In 1846 it merged with the Fall River Railroad Company. It returned to its original name in 1872.

Guide to the Old Colony and Fall River Railroad Company Records
Under Revision
compiled by Janet Elaine Gertz
December 1982
Description rules
Finding Aid Created In Accordance With Manuscripts And Archives Processing Manual
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

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