Alfred P. Rockwell Papers

Mss.B.R59p

Date: 1846-1903 | Size: 0.5 Linear feet, Ca. 8 volumes; 60 items

Abstract

After receiving his PhB at Yale's Sheffield Scientific School in 1858, Alfred P. Rockwell continued his studies at the Museum of Practical Geology in London and the Bergakademie Freiberg, focused largely on mining engineering and coal geology. After service in the Civil War, he held positions at Yale and MIT before leaving academia in 1873 to pursue other opportunities. He later served as president of the Eastern Rail Road and Treasurer of the Great Falls Manufacturing Company, a textile firm in New Hampshire.

The small collection of the papers of Alfred P. Rockwell document his interest in coal geology during the period of his postgraduate study at the Museum of Practical Geology and the Bergakademie, 1858-1859. Although the correspondence is slight, the collection includes a suite of notes on collieries, coal mining technology, and the economics of coal. Of particular note in the collection are the eight notebooks on mining engineering (some containing sketches), including two volumes of notes on John Percy's lectures at the Museum of Practical Geology, 1858, three volumes kept during his stay at the Bergakademie Freiberg, including one on a course on metallurgy taught by Bernhard von Cotta, 1858-1859, and one of an industrial tour through Germany and Belgium (June 1859). The other volumes include two on collieries in northern England, and one including of production records for the Great Falls Manufacturing Company, 1879-1886.

Background note

Born into a prominent Connecticut family, the geologist, educator, and industrialist Alfred Perkins Rockwell (1834-1903) was at turns a war hero, a professor, and a corporate executive. The son of a two-term Whig congressman, Rockwell received his AB from Yale in 1855, and remained in New Haven for his MA and PhB (1858) at the Sheffield Scientific School. Looking to build a foundation for a career in geology, he furthered his education by taking the standard European tour, spending time at the Museum of Practical Geology in London and at the prestigious Bergakademie at Freiberg, Saxony, where he studied metallurgy and coal geology. During his European sojourn, Rockwell also visited a succession of collieries in Northern England and Germany, familiarizing himself with advanced mining technology and with the economics of the industry.

At the outset of the Civil War, Rockwell returned to the United States and accepted a commission as Captain of the 1st Connecticut Light Artillery, earning a promotion to Colonel of the 6th Connecticut Infantry during the Petersburg Campaign of 1864 and finally a brevet to Brigadier General. He married Katharine Virginia Foote (1839-1902) after mustering out of the service in June 1865, and served briefly on the Board of Visitors at the U.S. Military Academy before returning to his alma mater as professor of mining at the Sheffield School. Barely three years later, he moved to a similar position at MIT, however by 1873, he made the decision to leave academia for other opportunities. In the aftermath of the devastating fire of 1872 that consumed much of downtown Boston, Rockwell was appointed Chairman of the Board of the Fire Commissioners in Boston, after which he served president of the Eastern Railroad (1876-1879) and from 1879 until his retirement in 1886, as treasurer of the Great Falls (N.H.) Manufacturing Co., a textile firm. Rockwell also earned income from land and other investments, including stock in the Minas Nuevas Mining Company, a lead and silver mining company in Mexico.

Never a prolific scholar, Rockwell wrote two books, Great Fires and Fire Extinction (Boston: Little, Brown, 1878) and Roads and Pavements in France (NY: Wiley, 1896). He and his wife had four children, of whom only one survived to adulthood: Mary Foote (1868-1868), Frances Beatrice (1872-1886), Samuel Edmund Foote (1873-1884), and Diana Ward (b. 1873). Rockwell died at his home in New Haven on Dec. 24, 1903.

Scope and content

The small collection of the papers of Alfred P. Rockwell document his interest in coal geology during the period of his postgraduate study at the Museum of Practical Geology, London, and the Bergakademie Freiberg, 1858-1859. Although the correspondence is slight, the collection includes a suite of notes on collieries, coal mining technology, and the economics of coal.

Of particular note in the collection are the eight notebooks on mining engineering (some containing sketches), including two volumes of notes on John Percy's lectures at the Museum of Practical Geology, 1858, three volumes kept during his stay at the Bergakademie Freiberg, including one on a course on metallurgy taught by Bernhard von Cotta, 1858-1859, and one of an industrial tour through Germany and Belgium (June 1859). The other volumes cover collieries in northern England and Scotland, and production records for the Great Falls Manufacturing Company, 1879-1886.

Collection Information

Provenance

Acquired 1983 and 1984 (accn. no 1983-1019ms, 1984-551ms).

Preferred citation

Cite as: Alfred Perkins Rockwell Papers, American Philosophical Society.

Processing information

Recatalogued by rsc, 2004.

Related material

The Institute Archives and Special Collections at MIT houses a small collection of the papers of Alfred P. Rockwell, 1868-1869, pertaining to his appointment at MIT. The Beinecke Library, Yale, includes a diary of Rockwell's kept during a visit to the Menominee Indians of Wisconsin, 1855-1856, as well as a set of lecture notes kept during a course on metallurgy, 1857.

The Godkin Family Papers (MS Am 1083.2) at the Houghton Library, Harvard, includes several letters written to Rockwell and his wife.

Indexing Terms


Corporate Name(s)

  • Bergakademie Freiberg
  • Great Falls Manufacturing Company
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Museum of Practical Geology (Great Britain)
  • Yale University. Sheffield Scientific School

Genre(s)

  • Pencil works
  • Photographs

Personal Name(s)

  • Cotta, Berhnard von, 1808-1879
  • Percy, John, 1817-1889
  • Rockwell, Alfred Perkins, 1834-1903
  • Rockwell, Katherine Virginia Foote, 1839-1902

Subject(s)

  • Coal mines and mining -- Germany
  • Coal mines and mining -- Great Britain
  • Geology -- Germany
  • Geology -- Great Britain
  • Metallurgy -- Study and teaching
  • Mining engineering -- Great Britain
  • Railroads -- Massachusetts
  • Textile industry -- New Hampsire


Detailed Inventory

Series I. Correspondence and notes
1846-19033 lin. feetbox 1
Atkinson, W. G..
ALS to Alfred P. Rockwell
1867 Oct. 114p.
Backworth Colliery -- Accounts
1856-185814p.
Backworth Colliery -- Abstract of work done and cost of borehole
1856-18582p.
Circular coke ovens -- Cost estimate
18581p.
Coke ovens -- Sketch, construction
1858 May 261p.
Collieries -- Miscellany
1858-18598 items
D'Arcy, George Frederick, Earl of Durham.
Memorandum of agreement re: collieries
1856 Mar. 2911p.
Durham Colliery -- Pumping account
1857 Aug.1p.
Elliott, Charles W..
ALS to Alfred P. Rockwell
1866 Mar. 152p.
Elliott, F. B..
ALS to Alfred P. Rockwell
1871 June 113p.
Farnsworth, Fred.
ALS to Alfred P. Rockwell
1881 Nov. 113p.
Gerolt, Baron von.
ALS to Alfred P. Rockwell
1866-18672 items
Hetton Colliery -- Specification for the building of 50 Pitmen's cottages at Hetton
1855 June 214p.
Hornby, John.
ALS to Alfred P. Rockwell
1879 Dec. 101p.
Jackson, George E. B..
ALS to Alfred P. Rockwell
1878 Nov. 42p.
Janin, Louis.
ALS to Alfred P. Rockwell
1879 Feb. 292p.
Kilnhurst, Yorkshire -- Specification and contract for sinking a shaft at Kilnhurst
18584p.
King, George B..
ALS to Alfred P. Rockwell
1879 Apr. 94p.
Knight, Octavius.
ALS to Alfred P. Rockwell
1879 Oct. 171p.

Re: 50 shares of stock in the Norton House and Ship Ventilator Co.

Lund Hill Colliery -- List of prices paid to Colliers and other workmen
18581p.
Mason, James.
Form for receiving coal in deeding away real estate
1865 Mar.2p.
Minas Nuevas Mining Co.
1879 1881-18843 items
Mining accounts (cost of making crib bed)
n.d.4p.
Oaks Colliery -- Abstract of the Lease...
1846 July 154p.
Oaks Colliery, Yorkshire -- Ventilation returns
18591p.
Pouson's Treatise on coal mining (notes)
n.d.2p.
Railroads -- Litigations of Eastern Rail Road
18778p.
Robson, George.
Report on the system pursued in working coal in the West Riding of the County of York...
1853 May8p.
Rockwell, Alfred Perkins, 1834-1903.
Accounts
1879-18815p.
Rockwell, Alfred Perkins, 1834-1903.
Biographical notes
19033p.
Rockwell, Alfred Perkins, 1834-1903.
Financial correspondence
1867-188812 items
Rockwell, Alfred Perkins, 1834-1903.
Lectures on meteorology and Outline of Lectures on Astronomy
n.d.pp. 17-24

Printed outlines with mss. notes by Rockwell.

Rockwell, Alfred Perkins, 1834-1903.
ALsS to Joe
1881-18836 items
Rockwell, Alfred Perkins, 1834-1903.
Memorandum of enquiries in relation to coal and coal mines
n.d.17p.
Rockwell, Alfred Perkins, 1834-1903.
Norwich Grammar School report card
1849 June 161p.
Rockwell, Alfred Perkins, 1834-1903.
Notes from Pal. Rep. on accidents in mines, 1835
ca.1858?7p.
Rockwell, Alfred Perkins, 1834-1903.
Photograph of Alfred P. and daughter Diana W. Rockwell
n.d.5p.
Rockwell, Charles H..
ALsS to Alfred P. Rockwell
18662 items
Rockwell, John A..
ALsS to Alfred P. Rockwell
1864-18652 items
Rockwell, John A..
Estate
1861-18794 items
Rockwell, Katharine
1865-188811 items
Rockwell-Elliott Family genealogy
n.d.Cy, 6p.
West Auckland Colliery -- Construction accounts
1858 May 261p.
Wharncliffe Silkstone Colliery -- Account of strata in the neighbourhood
1856 JuneCy, 2p.
Series II. Notebooks
1857-18868 volumes
1. Rockwell, Alfred Perkins, 1834-1903.
Lectures on Metallurgy by Dr. John Percy, FRS
1857 Oct. 231 vol.

For lectures held at the Museum of Practical Geology, London.

2. Rockwell, Alfred Perkins, 1834-1903.
Lectures on Metallurgy by Dr. John Percy, FRS
1857 Nov.1 vol.

For lectures held at the Museum of Practical Geology, London.

3. Rockwell, Alfred Perkins, 1834-1903.
Notes on Collieries near Barnsley, Yorkshire
1858 July 30 - 1858 August 1054 leaves.1 vol.

Survey of various collieries near Barnsley. Includes materials on Oaks and Lund Hill Collieries, with additional material on Elsecar, Mount Osborne, Old Mill, Gawber, and Wharncliffe Silkstone Collieries. There is further material in the notebook on collieries near Durham--Lady Durham, Littletown, and Sherburn. Includes pencil sketches.

4. Rockwell, Alfred Perkins, 1834-1903.
Notes on Collieries in Scotland
185819 leaves.1 vol.

Includes materials relating to the following collieries in Scotland: Gartsherrie near Glasgow [Coatbridge], Palacecraig [Airdrie], Blair in Dalry (Ayrshire), Bankhead [Rutherglen].

5. Rockwell, Alfred Perkins, 1834-1903.
Notes from Prof. Cotta's Gesteinlehre, Freiburg
1858-18591 vol.

Includes rough pencil sketch of Niagara Falls, based on Bernhard von Cotta's lecture. In German and English.

6. Rockwell, Alfred Perkins, 1834-1903.
"Freiburg"
18591 vol.

Includes pencil sketches.

7. Rockwell, Alfred Perkins, 1834-1903.
Tour in the Harz [and other notes on geology in Germany, Belgium)
1859 June 251 vol.

Includes pencil sketches.

8. Rockwell, Alfred Perkins, 1834-1903.
Great Falls Mfg. Co. Record of textile milling
1879-18861 vol.
9. Freiburg
18591 vol.

Includes pencil sketches

Custodial history: Transferred from the Connecticut Historical Society in May 2012, Accession number M2012-04