Pott Library Special Collections

The Herman T. Pott National Inland Waterways Library is a special library within the St. Louis Mercantile Library, at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. The Mercantile Library was founded by a group of businessmen who possessed a deep interest in the close relationship to the nation's inland rivers, particularly the Mississippi. Throughout its history, individuals active in waterways businesses have been associated with the Library. In 1985, the Mercantile Library built upon this long heritage of association with the rivers by greatly expanding its waterways-related holdings, and establishing the Herman T. Pott National Inland Waterways Library. To see the full list of Pott Library collections, including those not available in digital form, please see the Pott Library Special Collections Directory.
Herman T. Pott National Inland Waterways Library
P-003: Ruth Ferris Collection
The Ruth Ferris Collection is a large archival collection related to the inland rivers of North America. Included among the collection's many items are photographs, bills of lading, note cards, newspaper clippings, essays, and realia.
P-005: Dorothy Heckmann Shrader Collection
This collection consists of digitized photographs relating to the Missouri River, and often specifically to the family of Dorothy Heckmann Shrader. Phtoographs are often of river steamers and crew. The Heckmanns were the last great steamboat family on the Missouri River.
P-008 Ray Covington Photographs Collection
This collection of photographs consists largely of images of Motor Vessels taken by Mr. Covington in the 1950s while he worked aboard the dredge Ste. Genevieve. Additionally, there are some photographs of flooding and the dredging of the channel in the Chain of Rocks Canal.
P-011: Captain William F. and Betty Streckfus Carroll Collection
The Captain William F. and Betty Carroll Collection traces the history and development of Streckfus Steamers Inc., as well as its antecedent and descendant companies through correspondence, financial documents, business documents, photographs and memorabilia. In addition, the collection boasts a sizable number of photographs, blueprints, documents and ephemera related to river vessels, including but not limited to all of the Streckfus vessels. Captain Carroll also collected information on the history of steamboating, packet and excursion businesses, and river information, history, heritage and life, mostly through clippings and transcriptions; however the collection also contains some photographs, publications, charts and correspondence relating to the above subjects. There is also information regarding river personalities, including people involved with the Streckfus family and businesses, as well as river life and river work in general. Most of the biographical information takes the form of photographs or clippings. Currently, the photographs have been digitized. A finding aid to the entire collection is available.
P-012: Claude Strauser, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Louis District Collection Images
This collection documents the design and construction of levees and other river management works. The digitized materials consist of the collection's glass plate negatives - negatives that deal mostly with the Great Flood of 1927, as well as plates of overhead photographs of the Mississippi River from St. Louis to Cairo, Illinois, 1925. There a few images of the construction of the Cape Girardeau, Mo. flood wall in the 1950s.
P-025: Golden Eagle River Museum Collection
The Golden Eagle River Museum Collection consists of documents and photographs related to the inland rivers of the United States, especially the vessels and people that work them. For a complete finding aid of the collection, including its non-digitized materials, please see the Golden Eagle River Museum Collection page.
P-029: John Hartford Collection
The John Hartford Collection is the personal collection of former riverboat pilot and folk musician John Hartford. The collection is largely focused around John's love of the inland river system of the U.S., and contains scrapbooks, photographs, books, serials, and papers relating to steamboats, river towns, inland river lore, and related subjects. Currently, some of the photographs are digitized.
P-044: Wilbur Charles Greaney Army Corps of Engineers Photographs
This collection consists of a group of photographs documenting the construction and eventual built environment of the Granite City Engineers' Depot, in Granite City, Illinois. Photographs include images of buildings, river engineering, road and wharf construction, and some high water pictures.
P-045: JL McFeeters Journal
The J.L. McFeeters Journal 1904 collection consists of a single journal that Capt. J.L. McFeeters wrote in daily for the year 1904 commenting on personal subjects, weather, and other current events of that time.
P-046 William Charles Redfield Letter
A four page letter that William Charles Redfield wrote to his brother, James Starr Redfield, after a 300-mile steamboat trip on the Mississippi traveling from Dubuque, Iowa to St. Paul, Minnesota. The letter documents the itinerary of the trip and several side trips of Mr. Redfield and his family. Mr. Redfield also explains to his brother how and when to meet up with him when they begin their journey home. Mr. Redfield discusses the growth of towns along the Mississippi River and his amazement at the success of farming west of Lake Erie. William Charles Redfield was born on March 26, 1789 in Middletown, Connecticut. Mr. Redfild was self-educated in meteorology and the law of storms, specifically directionality of winds in hurricanes, and later received an honorary degree from Yale in 1839. Mount Redfield in Essex County, New York is named for Mr. Redfield after he organized and was a member of the first expedition to Mount Marcy in 1837. Mr. Redfield was also one of the founders and the first President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1848. He became the first American expert on fossil fish. Mr. Redfield died on February 12, 1857 in New York City.
P-051: E. J. Carpenter Steamboat Photographs Collection
The E.J. Carpenter Steamboat Photographs Collection consists of nine photographs of Ohio and Mississippi River scenes, most containing some aspect of steamboating.
P-056: The Robert Graul Delta Queen Photographs
This collection consists of 55 photographs taken by Robert Graul on a trip aboard the excursion steamboat DELTA QUEEN from July 1972 trip from St. Louis to Peoria. Photographs include images of the DQ, passengers, crew, shore excursions, and local landmarks.
P-064 Yellowstone Expedition Letters
This pair of autograph letters are from Lieutenant Isaac Clark to his Father, Colonel Isaac Clark of Vermont, describing his efforts to outfit the Atkinson Expedition to the Yellowstone River. Letters also discuss the City of Saint Louis, where Lt. Clark was staying at the time. The Yellowstone Expedition detailed in these letters is a little-known but significant early western expedition. It was organized in 18191 and was under the command of Col. (later Brigadier General) Henry Atkinson. The group was charged with ascending the Missouri River by steamboat (an early attempt at such travel on the Missouri) to establish a series of forts along the river to protect the American fur trade, guard against hostile Indians, and counteract the presence of the British Hudson’s Bay Company in the region. The expedition ultimately reached the “Council Bluff” in eastern Nebraska, where they established Fort Atkinson, near the Missouri River. The troops at Fort Atkinson endured a harsh winter in 1819-1820, and lack of provisions left them susceptible to scurvy and other diseases, which ultimately claimed between 100 and 200 lives. Clark’s letters give a rare firsthand account of the logistics and provisions of the expedition. Both letters are written by Lieut. Clark, to his father, Col. Isaac Clark in Castleton, Vermont. Isaac Clark, Sr. (1742-1822) had a military career that spanned some fifty years. He fought in the Revolutionary War, participating in the Battle of Bennington (1777) and the recapture of Fort Ticonderoga (1778). During the War of 1812 he led Vermont troops in patrolling the border with Quebec to prevent smuggling and led several military forays into Quebec. He also served in several political and judicial positions in Vermont.
P-065 Mississippi-Illinois River Canal (Hennepin Canal) Construction Photographs
This album of cyanotype prints documents the early construction of the Mississippi and Illinois River Canal, also known as the Hennepin Canal. Each image comes with explanatory captions on the back side. The images document the first months of construction on the Mississippi and Illinois River Canal, commonly known as the Hennepin Canal. The construction pictured is near the Mississippi and Rock rivers while working on Lock 36 and Lock 37. The prints cover much of the construction involved in building canals in the 19th century, and include portrayals of excavation and dredge work, extension and widening of rivers work on Carr Island (in the western portion of the Rock River), use of dynamite in lock building, pile driving, construction on concrete abutments, and other equipment and processes involved. Also included are images of the camps of workers and engineers. Each image is captioned with a date and description of the image, often including names of identifiable workers and engineers. Most of the images show actual construction, including the extension and widening of rivers, massive excavation and dredge work, work around Carr Island in the far western portion of the Rock River, the construction of embankments, and the use of dynamite to begin the lock building process. Other photographs show piling and pile driving, the camps of the workers, and completed cuts. The captions each note the month in which photographs are taken, and often name in the engineer in charge of the work and contractor.
P-074 Dan Owen Boat Photo Museum Collection
This collection is comprised of the photographic prints, notes, ledgers, photograph negatives, and other ephemera collected by longtime Inland River Record editor and Waterways Journal contributor, Dan Owen. Content includes vessels primarily from the American inland waterways system as well as limited selections from abroad. The entire collection was kept under the name “Dan Owen’s Boat Photo Museum.”
P-084: Captain Enos B. Moore Diaries and Correspondence
This collection of letters and diaries of Captain Enos B. Moore preserves a turbulent time in US and river history, the years leading up to and through the Civil War. Moore piloted steamboats on the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers for 45 years, between 1844-1889. The letters date from 1853 to 1865. The four diaries contain daily entries for years 1859, 1860, 1861, and 1865. Subjects include river trade and commerce, the effect of the war on river industry and Moore’s fellow riverboat captains, struggling banks, and the blockade at Cairo. The collection also includes a typed copy of family history research compiled by Enos’ children, William and Mary Moore, in the mid-20th century titled The Moores of Portsmouth.
P-085: Carpenter-Moore Family Riverboat Scrapbooks
This collection of six scrapbooks was acquired from the estate of Dorothy Jane Mahaffey Carpenter Moore. Dorothy and her family have been prominent St. Louis philanthropists for generations. The scrapbooks contain hundreds of photographs of riverboats operating on the Mississippi River from the late 19th- and early 20th-centuries. Many pages include captions, newspaper clippings, and information about the vessels including where they were built, cost of construction, and significant events in the boat's history.
P-086 Frank Fiske Missouri River Photograph Album
Annotated photograph album documenting photographer Frank Fiske’s two-week steamboat journey on the Missouri River in 1918. Fiske was a prominent early 20th century photographer who grew up at Fort Yates, near the Standing Rock Reservation. Fiske learned photography at a young age, mentoring under the Fort Yates post photographer Stephen T. Fansler. Fiske took over Fansler’s studio when he was seventeen and spent the next two decades photographing the community of Standing Rock. Fiske was best known for his photographs depicting everyday Lakota life and the changing frontier, but he was also a writer and served as a newspaper editor and assistant steamboat captain. This album documents Fiske’s journey aboard the steamer Scarab of the Benton Packet Company. The boat departed Fort Yates, North Dakota on June 16, 1918 and arrived in St. Louis on July 2. The album contains 100 silver gelatin photographs that capture largely undocumented aspects of life along one of America's great western rivers. Each image provides viewers the intimate feeling of standing on the deck of the Scarab, alongside Fiske, as he makes his journey. The album includes views of the Scarab and the passing boats, Missouri River scenes and images of the surrounding landscape, military outposts, infrastructure projects, railroads, river towns, historic sites, and more. Fiske gave this album to Captain Isaac P. Baker, owner of the Benton Packet Company of Bismarck, North Dakota.
P-092 Mississippi Valley Barge Lines Photograph Collection
Collection of 70 photographic slides taken by Jack Carey while working as a deckhand for the Mississippi Valley Barge Lines in the summer of 1968. The photographs capture river scenes, as well as Mississippi Valley Barge Lines boats, operations, and crew. Mississippi Valley Barge Lines was a privately owned common carrier founded in St. Louis in 1929. The company ran steam, and later diesel, barges and towboats on the lower Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. In its formative years, a large part of the company’s earnings came from the transportation of sugar from New Orleans to Cincinnati and St. Louis. The photographs in this collection were taken in the summer of 1968. According to a statement by W.J. Barta, President of the company, at a 1965 congressional hearing, in 1964 the company transported approximately 8,878,000 tons of freight and received gross revenues of approximately 20,500,000. He claimed they were one of the largest carriers on the U.S. inland river system. He also stated they presently operated 18 towing vessels and over 500 cargo-carrying barges. Jack Carey was a prominent attorney in southern Illinois. As a youth, he worked as a deckhand for Mississippi Valley Barge Lines and took the photographs in this collection.
P-094 Milroy, Henry Bruce Diary
This diary documents Rebecca and Henry Bruce Milroy’s convalescent journey from Washington County, Indiana to Natchez Mississippi, as well as Henry’s return trip after his wife’s death. The 42 page diary includes near daily entries from October 26, 1836 to January 1, 1837. The author describes several towns they pass through, places they stay, steamboats they take passage aboard, people they encounter, and medical treatments Rebecca receives.
P-098 Rothgeb, Samuel Correspondence Collection
Two letters written by Samuel Rothgeb to his parents in 1847. Rothgeb was a young man just off the farm when he took up a position as a merchant and cook aboard a flatboat plying the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers at the twilight of the flatboat age. His letters chronicle storms, river trade, daily rafting life, and more.
P-099 Wright, Thomas Immigration Narrative
This manuscript journal was written in 1817 by Thomas Wright, a druggist and veterinarian, as he traveled from his native home in England to the Morris Birkbeck settlement in southern Illinois. The pages are filled with his optimism and courage as he set off on a long and winding journey over open ocean, to distant shores, and across the wild American West. His careful and detailed observations of his trip down the Ohio River make this piece one of the finest unpublished works in existence on early American river travel to this region. The journal also paints a cross-spectrum picture of early Americans, as Wright describes the people he met along the way, from lawyers and merchants to African American freed peoples.
P-100 Fulton, Robert Autographed Letter
This letter to an unnamed recipient provides a remarkable window into the mind and soul of this American legend. The letter captures Robert Fulton’s frustration and bitterness at having to compete for recognition of his monumental achievements. He argues passionately that he alone can claim he invented steamboats and he provides proof by expounding upon his superior familiarity with the operational principles of steam travel.
P-103 Morse, William H. California Gold Rush Correspondence
This letter was written in 1849 by a forty-niner in St. Louis, one William H. Morse, to a friend back home in New England. He’s been in St. Louis for three weeks, the last stop on the frontier, as he prepares to embark on a journey westward on the overland trail, making his way to California in search of gold. He describes his 35 day trip thus far, from an unnamed town in the northeast, south through Baltimore to Harpers Ferry, through the Cumberland Gap to Morgantown, where he caught steamboats that carried him to Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, down the Ohio River, and up the Mississippi to St. Louis. Morse provides a colorful commentary along the way, describing the towns and major landmarks he passed.

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Pott Special Collections Directory