Roebling Family & Business


View of the Brooklyn Tower and pedestrian walkway

This is a brief overview of some of the many archival collections and online resources which contain significant materials related in particular to John A. Roebling, his sons Washington A. (and wife Emily Warren), Ferdinand W., and Charles G. Roebling, bridge building (suspension bridges in particular), German-American immigration, and engineering data.

Please contact us to discuss your research needs or if you have questions regarding the resources listed below.

Manuscript Collections

Roebling Collection (MC 04) | Institute Archives and Special Collections at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute houses documentation and personal and professional activities of John A. Roebling and Washington A. Roebling, and the business activities of the John A. Roebling’s Sons Company.  The material dates from 1830 to 1926 with the bulk of the material dating from 1844 to 1883, the period of time when John A. Roebling and Washington A. Roebling were active in the design and construction of suspension bridges and the manufacture of wire rope.

Rutgers University | The Special Collections and University Archives holds two major collections of family papers, as well as business records of the John Roebling’s Sons Company (JARSCO).  Descriptive information is available online and in print; original materials are also available on microfilm.

Smithsonian Institution | Materials include the Niagara Falls Bridges Collection and records documenting Washington Roebling’s extensive mineralogy interests.  Online database available.

Bridge Documentation

Bridgemeister | Extensive, searchable online inventory of “mostly suspension” bridges.  The site includes photos, lists, bridge data, and a lengthy bibliography. | Personal site started in 1999 by Jake Mecklenborg and concerns the history of and future plans for the city’s transportation infrastructure.

Digital Bridges | Fully searchable collection of thirty digitized American bridge engineering monographs, manuals, and documents dating from the 19th century.  Scanned from the Lehigh University Libraries’ Special Collections department in 2001-2002, the compilation includes several reports written by John A. Roebling, Washington Roebling, and others with whom they worked.

New York City Government | The NYC Department of Records and Information Services features images of a number of Roebling bridges; prints may be requested via an online order form.

Notman Collection | McCord Museum database holds hundreds of bridge photographs.

Structurae | Nicolas Jansberg’s “international database and gallery of structures,” including images of Roebling bridges, biographical information, and links to a wide range of electronic resources.

Other Resources

American Memory Project (LOC) | Historical and descriptive data, including information pertaining to numerous Roebling bridge projects and industries.

Brooklyn Historical Society | K-12 programming, including classroom workshops and curriculum materials on the construction and impact of the Brooklyn Bridge.

German Historical Society: Immigrant Entrepreneurship | Traces the lives, careers and business ventures of eminent German-American business people, 1720 – present.

Historic American Engineering Record (HAER, NPS) | The permanent collection of the Library of Congress consists of measured and interpretive drawings, large-format black and white and color photographs, written historical and descriptive data, and original field notes

Roebling Museum | The Museum provides exhibits and programs while also serving as a valuable resource for school curriculum enhancement programs and academic research.