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COLLECTION Identifier: MS Am 560

Waldo Higginson diaries,

Diaries of American railroad civil engineer Waldo Higginson.


  • 1834-1861.

Language of Materials

Collection materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material. Collection is open for research.


1 collection (1 linear foot (6 volumes))

Collection contains: autograph manuscript personal diaries and professional journals from 1834 through 1861. Many entries concern civil engineering projects for the construction of railroad lines (especially for Western & Atlantic Railroad Company, the Eastern Railroad Company, and the Boston and Lowell Railroad Company), with technical drawings for bridges and bridge supports, tunnels, and similar structures. Volumes also include personal financial accounts; an account book for the Eastern Railroad Company; notes about his readings; and an autograph manuscript introduction about Waldo by his brother Thomas Wentworth Higginson. Diaries were written in Georgia, Cambridge, Cohassett, Newburyport, Boston, and other locations.

Biographical / Historical

Waldo Higginson (1814-1894) was born in Boston, Massachusetts on May 1, 1814, the son of Stephen Higginson (1770-1834) and Louise Storrow Higginson. He graduated from Harvard College with an AB in 1833 and an AM in 1856. In 1834-1835 he studied law in the office of Judge Jackson of Boston but in the summer of 1835 he gave up that profession and entered the office of Colonel Loammi Baldwin of Charlestown, as a student in civil engineering. From 1837-1845 he worked on a variety of engineering works including work on the Western & Atlantic Railroad of the State of Georgia with the U. S. Topographical Engineers, as an assistant engineer on the Eastern Railroad Company between Ipswich and Newburyport, Massachusetts, and as a civil engineer out of a Boston office. In 1845 he became agent and engineer for the Boston and Lowell Railroad Company which he filled until 1853 when he resigned after suffering paralysis. In 1856 he became president of the New England Railroad Mutual Insurance Company and later president of the Arkwright Insurance Company. He was an Overseer of Harvard University from 1869 to 1873 and he was the secretary of the Harvard Class of 1833. One of his brothers was Thomas Wentworth Higginson, the American Unitarian minister, author, abolitionist, and soldier. His wife was Mary Davies Sohier and they had no children. He died in Boston, May 5, 1894. [Source: Memorials of the Class of 1833 of Harvard College; Cambridge: 1883].


Arranged in volume number order.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

No accession number. Gift of Thomas Wentworth Higginson; received: 1905 June 17.

Related Materials

Additional papers and diaries of Waldo Higginson can be found in the manuscript collections in the Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association Library, Deerfield, Massachusetts.

Processing Information

Processed by: Bonnie B. Salt
Link to catalog
Higginson, Waldo, 1814-1894. Waldo Higginson diaries, 1834-1861: Guide.
Houghton Library, Harvard College Library
Description rules

Repository Details

Part of the Houghton Library Repository

Houghton Library is Harvard College's principal repository for rare books and manuscripts, literary and performing arts archives, and more. The library's holdings of primary source material are managed by an expert staff and shared with scholars, students and the public in the reading room.

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