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Palmer Chamberlain Ricketts professional records

Identifier: AC 3

Scope and Contents

The Palmer C. Ricketts Papers span the years 1881 to 1955, with the bulk of the material falling into the periods of Rickett’s tenure as President of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, from 1892 to 1934. The papers have been organized into four series consisting of Administrative Papers, which contains chiefly correspondence, but also includes reports, statistics, and account books; Professional Papers, which consist of correspondence and photographs; and Scrapbooks, which contain newspaper and periodical clippings and other memorabilia.  Please see series notes for complete descriptions.  Series IV lists Publications. The particular strengths in the Administrative Papers (Series 1) are the detailed documentation of the various building projects undertaken during Ricketts tenure, and correspondingly, the various fund raising programs developed to support the new construction.  This series also documents the establishment of the Department of Architecture, 1928-29.  A survey of graduates was undertaken in 1892 to uncover any significant projects of alumni for inclusion in the R.P.I. exhibit at the Worlds Columbian Exhibition.  The replies of those surveyed detail their engineering accomplishments and personal comments on their career assessments as a whole. It is evident from this material that Ricketts concerned himself with minutiae which most modern administration would delegate to subordinates.  Fortunately, these seemingly trivial details provide us with a comprehensive picture of campus life typical at the time. Ricketts Professional Papers (Series II) contain correspondence and photographs concerning his career as a consultant engineer.  These papers focus on the years 1886-1900.  The letters concern the various projects on which Ricketts with detailed technical engineering designs, plans, and issues.  Two major groups of correspondence in this series are Ricketts letters to Charles Parsons, vice-president of the Rome-Watertown-& Ogdensburg Railroad, and correspondence with the Public Improvement Commission of Troy.  Although chiefly occupied as a consultant in New York State, Ricketts’ correspondence within this series covers his work on such projects as Pownal Bridge, Vermont; and the Somerset Street Bridge, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. An indexed photograph album illustrates several of Ricketts engineering projects including scenes of the Gibson Pier Renewal;  Bridge Street Bridge; the Corning Dyke Project; and Erie Bridge.  A series of photographs depicts the progress of the dyke projects from “ploughed ground” to “retaining wall” to “section of dyke”. The Scrapbooks (Series III) span the years 1813-1934.  A collection of mementos, newspaper and periodical clippings cover Ricketts’ Rensselaer Career, with some mention of his engineering work as well.  It should be noted that Scrapbook #1 was completed by someone to include Ricketts’ obituaries and numerous tributes and testimonials upon his death.  Significantly, there are many examples of fundraising correspondence that relate to the administrative papers in Series 1.  Also some clippings correspond with consulting projects mentioned in Ricketts private letter books (Series III). Series IV contains publications by Palmer C. Ricketts, ranging from textbooks used at R.P.I., to discussions of contemporary engineering issues.


  • Created: 1871-1955



16.00 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Related Materials

Palmer C. Ricketts Student Notebooks, MC 31

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Repository Details

Part of the Institute Archives and Special Collections Repository

110 8th Street
Institute Archives and Special Collections
Rensselaer Libraries, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Troy NY 12180-3590 US
518 276 8340