Scope and arrangement
The William Wilgus Papers contain the records of his professional activities as a civil engineer, 1895-1947.
The Wilgus Papers also contain medals, awards, and certificates presented to Wilgus during his long career.
The William J. Wilgus papers are arranged in eight series:
The papers relating to his employment by the New York Central & Hudson River Railroad are divided into three sections. The first two document the inception and creation of the new Grand Central Terminal and the change of motive power from steam to electricity on the terminal's main line approaches, 1902-1913. Section one concerns the history of Grand Central Station and contains materials collected by Wilgus in an effort to document this dramatic achievement. Included are Wilgus' correspondence, 1903-1931, regarding his role as chief engineer, his summation of the project, Grand Central Terminal In Perspective (1939) and the research notes and correspondence used in its preparation, a guide to his papers on this topic given to the New York Public Library, earlier histories of the construction from contemporary journal articles and a draft history prepared by the railroad, sets of correspondence and pictorial documents gathered by Wilgus, and commemorative brochures. The second section contains original records of the electric zone and Grand Central Terminal improvements. Among these papers are correspondence (particularly concerning underrunning the third rail and the Woodlawn wreck of 1907); engineering reports; negotiations, agreements, and joint committee minutes of the NYC & HRR and New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad, 1903-1909; minutes of construction committee meetings, 1902-1906; reports to the Electric Traction Commission, 1903-1906; proposals, bids, cost estimates, contracts, and specifications for equipment and construction; printed material, photographs, maps, and a scrapbook of clippings. The third section concerns the rehabilitation and expansion of the NYC & HRR's other lines. Included are standard plans and specifications, bridge books, and masonry specifications for the Rome, Watertown and Ogdensburg Railroad; specifications and data on the Buffalo Union Station and Weehawken Terminal; annual track reports; condensed profiles; miscellaneous construction data, unit costs, bids, and specifications for various divisions of the railroad; photographs, a scrapbook of press clippings, and a scrapbook of rail passes issued to Wilgus.
Series II contains records relating to Wilgus' military service during World War I as Director of Railways and Deputy Director General of Transportation in the Allied Expeditionary Forces, and later, as historian of the Transportation Corps. The subgroup is divided into four series: Correspondence, Writings and Translations by Wilgus, Writings by Others, and Source Materials. The correspondence relates to the recruitment of engineering officers, the development of the Transportation Corps and the military railway system in France, and the attempts of Wilgus and others to write the history of the events. Wilgus' writings include copies of his war diary, 1917-1919, Transporting the A. E. F. In Western Europe (1931) and manuscripts, typescripts, and published copies of articles on the transportation of American troops translated from the French by Wilgus. The series Writings by Others contains books and articles on military transportation during the war including an unpublished history of the Transportation Corps by J. W. D. Melvin. Finally, the Source Materials contain copies of significant correspondence, memoranda, reports, charts, statistics, maps, and other data made by Wilgus before leaving the service. Included also are his scrapbook of clippings about the Transportation Corps and signal corps photographs of troops, railroads, and supply depots in France.
Series III contains the records of Wilgus' private consulting practice in New York City. His files are arranged by client or project in three sections: New: York transportation; major railroad projects; and general client files. The files contain correspondence, engineering reports, drawings, blueprints, statistics, notes, photographs, copies of legislation, legal briefs, printed material, and scrapbooks of clippings. The New York section includes material regarding his work on the small car freight subway, 1908-09; the interterminal belt line, 1909; the subway situation, 1910-1919; New York/New Jersey Port of Authority, 1909-1933; the Holland Tunnel, 1919-1922; the Narrows Tunnel, 1921-1922; the Regional Plan of New York and its Environs; and the Mayor's Committee on City Planning. Railroad companies which engaged Wilgus for inspections, valuations, litigation and other projects included the Bangor and Aroostook Railroad, Toledo, St. Louis and Western Railroad, Lehigh Valley Railroad and Coal Company, New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad, Central Railroad Company of New Jersey, Fonda, Johnstown and Gloversville Railroad, and the Wabash Railroad. The records of his other engagements are arranged by case numbers which Wilgus assigned chronologically.
Series IV, Public Service Activities, contains papers relating to Wilgus' attempts to have a Green Mountain Park and Parkway developed in Vermont, 19331936; his public opposition to a proposed ship canal in Florida, 1937-1941; his records as director of the Works Division of New York City's Emergency Relief Bureau, 1934-1935; and his report "Problems of National Defense" prepared while a consultant to the National Resources Planning Board, 1940-1941.
Series V contains Wilgus' papers as a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, 1914-1930, and president of its New York Chapter, 1920-1921. Included are correspondence, meeting minutes, papers of the Committee on the Valuation of Public Utilities, and records of the United Engineering Society.
Series VI, contains Wilgus' essays along with related research notes, correspondence, and printed material on three of his favorite topics, "The Railroad Problem", 1920-1942, "The Transportation Problem", 1913-1947, and "A Military Defect", 1936-1943 (issues of military reorganization, transportation, and war preparedness). Several of his essays on other engineering topics are also present.