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Samuel B. Reed papers

Call Number: MS 409

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of correspondence and papers dated 1840-1921 relating to the personal life and business affairs of Samuel B. Reed (1818-1921) and his family. Reed was a civil engineer who surveyed and supervised the construction of many important railroad lines in the western United States and Canada in the mid-nineteenth century. Letters to his wife, Mrs. Jane Ann (Earl) Reed (1827-1896), often contain lengthy descriptions of the problems involved in railway building in its pioneer stages. The railroads with which Reed was associated were the Michigan Central, Mississippi and Missouri, Chicago and Rock Island, Burlington and Missouri River, Union Pacific, Southern Railroad Association, Illinois Central, Chicago, Pekin and South-Western, and the Canadian Pacific Railway. Among Reed's business correspondence there are a number of letters with various railroad executives involved in railway building. Of particular importance is the correspondence with Henry Farnam (1803-1883) builder of the Chicago and Rock Island Railroad, which deals with Reed's part in the construction of the first bridge over the Mississippi.

Among the large amount of personal correspondence to Mrs. Reed are letters from Lucy Adeline (Hurd) Van Horne, wife of Sir William Cornelius Van Horne, builder of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Mrs. Van Horne was a daughter of Erastus Hurd, an uncle of Samuel B. Reed. Her letters give information regarding the personal life of Sir William Van Horne.


  • 1841-1921


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Unpublished materials authored or otherwise produced by the creator(s) of this collection are in the public domain. There are no restrictions on use. Copyright status for other 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

Gift of Lindley Eberstadt.


2 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


Correspondence, financial records, diaries, papers, and miscellanea relating to Samuel B. Reed's career as an engineer and surveyor for various railroad lines in Canada and the United States. Personal correspondence with Jane Ann Earl Reed and Lucy Adeline Hurd Van Horne also discuss railroad matters.

Biographical / Historical

Samuel B. Reed (1818-1891): engineer on the Erie Canal enlargement in the 1840s; then moved west to Ohio, Illinois, and Iowa while working on various railroads.
Guide to the Samuel B. Reed Papers
Under Revision
compiled by Staff of Manuscripts and Archives
April 1980
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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