Roebling Family & Brooklyn Bridge History

Vintage postcard of Brooklyn Bridge

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.

To answer questions about Roebling family members or the Brooklyn Bridge, please consult the following secondary resources listed below under Biographical Information and Print Books. Contact an Archvist to discuss your research needs or if you have questions regarding any of the resources listed below.

(Washington, Charles G., John A.) Register of All Students 1824-1929, or other Alumni Directories.

Faculty/Alumni Collection.

The Transit. Pictures and text relating to the person or the class history.

Biographical Record by Henry B. Nason. (Covers the years 1824-1886. Look-up under the person’s last name; photocopy the biographical sketch and title page.)

Commencement Programs.

Photograph Collection: AC 18 and AC 16.

Material related to the Roebling collection (MC 4), Box 61.

SCIT TG25.N53 A3 – Report of the committee appointed by the Board of Trustees: consisting of the mayors of the cities of New York and Brooklyn, 1883.

SCIT TG25.N53 G68 1983 – The Great East River Bridge, 1883-1983.

SCIT TG25.N53 H38 2008 – Art of the Brooklyn Bridge by Richard Haw.

SCIT TG25.N53 M3X – The Great Bridge by David McCullough.

SCIT TG25.N53 M35X – The treasure from the carpentry shop: the extraordinary original drawings of the Brooklyn Bridge by David McCullough.

SCIT TG25.N53 S5 1983 – A picture history of the Brooklyn Bridge: with 167 prints and photographs by Mary J. Shapiro.

SCIT TG25 N53 S73 1982 – The Brooklyn Bridge: they said it couldn’t be built by Judith St. George.

SCIT TG25 N53 T7 – Brooklyn Bridge: fact and symbol by Alan Trachtenberg.

SCIT TG25.N53 V63 1983 – Building Brooklyn Bridge: the design and construction, 1867-1883 by Robert M. Vogel.

TG153 .H68 2012 – How to read bridges: a crash course in engineering and architecture by Edward Denison and Ian Stewart.

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.

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.

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.

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