901 West Pratt St., Baltimore, MD 21223
Research and Access:

Garrett Papers

Original Description of the “Garrett Papers” / “Archives of the B&O Railroad” as written by the Maryland Historical Society in their original finding aid.

The “Garrett Papers collection is the partial archives of the B&O for the years 1859-1880. It is the records of the President’s Office (the President during this period was John Work Garrett 1858-1884). The types of material included are letters, receipts, reports, and memoranda. The B&O filed material by subject and this arrangement has been retained. The subjects were numbered 1-41781, but not all numbers were used. Gaps were left apparently to allow for subjects to be added in sequence. Each subject used has been listed in the finding aid along with the number the B&O assigned to the subject and the number of the box which the material is located. For the first 197 subjects in the collection, the finding aid lists the subject and the name of the writer of each item filed under each subject. This proved to be too time consuming, and after Number 197 only the subject is listed. A list of the writer of each item in each subject can be found on the index covers (envelopes) used by the B&O when storing the archives. The index covers for subjects 200-41781 are found in boxes 103-110. When filing its archival material the B&O used one further set of numbers. Each item in the archives received a number (a serial number) as well as each subject. The dual number system causes confusion since the serial number and the subject number often have the same number of digits. For example, “Suits vs. Wheeling, West Virginia, 1859-1873” have the subject number 169 and a serial number of 755. For the most part the serial number can be ignored when using this collection.

Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Collection, 1859-1880, MS.2003

Thousands of incoming letters and telegrams pertaining to all phases of Baltimore & Ohio Railroad history from 1859-1880: finance, traffic, railroad competition and combination, labor, legal questions (purchase or condemnation of property, etc.), politics (items showing B&O lobbying for or against bills on railroads in Congress and in various states – Maryland, W. Virginia, Ohio), management and operation, plan and equipment, relations with subsidiary railroad, steamship, and express companies. Letterpress copies or MS.drafts of out-going correspondence from John W. Garrett and other leading B&O officers, pertaining to the same subjects. Hundreds of valuable interoffice memoranda to Garrett from his subordinates, often with penciled notations by Garrett in the margin. Numerous long, detailed letters between Garrett and his two vice-Presidents during the 1870s, John King, Jr. and William Keyser, full of discussions of railroad rate wars and conferences, contracts with shippers, the condition of the road, policy and management questions, etc. Hundreds of routine railroad items: newspaper clippings, statistical reports and tables, drafts of Garrett’s speeches and remarks to B&O board meetings, drafts of contract, agreements, briefs, etc. routine reports from B&O agents and other officers, correspondence pertaining to claims against the company, letters requesting free passes or information, pamphlets containing Garrett speeches, testimony of B&O officers before Congress of State legislatures, copies of bills and laws and legal opinions affecting the company. Items of particular importance include, 1) several hundred letters and telegrams detailing the B&O’s activity during the Civil War: troop movements, Confederate destruction of the RR property, efforts to keep the Railroad open and in repair correspondence with Union generals and Government officials 2) several dozen copies of letters and telegrams relating to the Railroad Strikes of 1877. 3) Correspondence between King, Keyser, and Garrett, setting out Company strategy and policy concerning rate wars, pooling agreements, efforts to secure larger measures of the oil, grain, livestock, coal, and other important trades, general management of the road and its subsidiaries, political and legal questions, etc. Among the more important corporations that figure more or less prominently in the correspondence are the Standard Oil Company, the House of Morgan, the Pennsylvania, New York Central, Erie, Wabash, and Reading Railroads, the Grand Trunk Railway, the North German Lloyd and Allan steamship lines, the Western Union Telegraph Company, the Adams Express Company, and dozens of eastern, southern, and western railroad companies. Occasional important letters to and from the following business and railroad leaders: J. P. Morgan, Jay Gould, William H. Vanderbilt, J. Edgar Thomson, Thomas A. Scott, Alexander J. Cassatt, Collis P. Huntington, Franklin B. Gowen, A. J. Drexel, Samuel Sloan, Albert Fink and many others, including the leading officials of Standard Oil and every important railroad serving the Atlantic Coast and Middle West.

c. 60 boxes (75,000 items), 1859-1880

© 7/18/2019 Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum™. All Rights Reserved.