Archives Center, National Museum of American History

Guide to Jackson & Sharp Car Co. Records and American Car & Foundry Co. Collection, 1884-1948


Collection ID:
American Car and Foundry Co. (Jackson & Sharp Car Co.)
Jackson & Sharp Car Co.
Physical Description:
2.5 Cubic feet
6 boxes, 21 volumes

Scope and Contents

Scope and Contents
This collection contains order books, including design details of a wide variety of passenger, freight and specialty cars (including self-propelled electric cars), and cost accounts for the production department. Also included are 21 volumes of photographs of finished cars, arranged by lot number. These have separate indexes arranged alphabetically and by photograph number.


The collection is divided into two series.
Series 1: Records, 1885-1948
Series 2: Photographs

Biographical / Historical

Biographical / Historical
The Jackson and Sharp Car Company, a manufacturer of railroad passenger cars, street railway cars, and ships, was incorporated in Delaware on February 24, 1869, as the successor to the partnership of Jackson & Sharp. Job H. Jackson (1833 1901), a tinsmith and mechanic, and Jacob F. Sharp (ca. 1815 1888), an experienced car builder, opened a small car building shop in Wilmington, Delaware, in 1863. Wilmington was a major center for the manufacture of railroad passenger cars prior to the development of Pullman, Illinois, in 1881. Sharp retired from the business in 1870. Soon after, Jackson erected the larger Delaware Car Works facility at the foot of 8th Street. A shipyard was added in 1875. By the late 1880s, the company was turning out about 400 cars per year, as well as sash work and panelling for buildings.
The American Car & Foundry Company purchased Jackson and Sharp in 1901 when Jackson died. American Car & Foundry, incorporated in New Jersey in 1899, was a typical late 19th century merger of many small car building companies. The Jackson and Sharp plant in Wilmington was used primarily for the construction of railroad cars for export orders until around 1920. From the end of World War One until 1938, the plant was kept open by building small pleasure boats. During World War Two the plant produced minesweepers. The plant was closed around 1945.


Robert S. Harding
Custodial History
Collection transferred to the Archives Center from the Division of Transportation (now Division of Work and Industry) in 1979.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Immediate source of acquisition unknown.
Processing Information
Collection processed by Robert Harding, 1984

Using the Collection

Conditions Governing Use
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Conditions Governing Access
Collection is open for research. Special care required in handling photographs, as the bound volumes are in poor condition.
Preferred Citation
Jackson and Sharp Car Co. Records and American Car and Foundry Co. Collection, 1884-1948, Archives Center, National Museum of American History

Related Materials
The Delaware State Archives
Collection of approximately 3,000 negatives and photographs from Jackson and Sharp and American Car & Foundry. These include views of ships, electric railway cars, and railroad equipment. A description of the Delaware State Archives' collection can be found in the control file for coll. #156 and a copy of the microfiche listing of these photos is available in the Archives Center's microfiche cabinet. The Archives also holds over 160 drawings and blueprints for cars and ships, dating from 1881 1937 The Hagley Museum and Library of Wilmington, Delaware, contains several collections of Jackson & Sharp records. These include historical materials; contracts for car orders, 1898 1905; and drawings and blueprints, 1895 1930. A smaller body of Jackson & Sharp records is in the Historical Society of Delaware, in Wilmington.
New Jersey Historical Society
Manuscript Group 802, William F. Cone (1874-1966), Business records and negatives, 1880s-1966
Series 6 documents the production of railroad cars and marine vessels by the Jackson & Sharpe Plant of the American Car & Foundry Co., Wilmington, Delaware mostly between 1913-1929. Images of railroad cars the company produced include wooden and steel open platform cars, baggage cars, refrigerator cars, Pullman cars, railway post offices, sleeping cars, dining cars, engine rooms, parlor cars, box cars, gondola cars, flat cars, four-wheel trucks (the sets of wheels under train cars), underframes, interior furnishings for railroad cars, mantles, moldings and medallions. These products were made for railroad companies in the U.S., South America, Central America, and Cuba. Also included are images of the marine vessels the company produced including tugboats, scows and dredges, and several "named" vessels.
John W. Barriger III National Railroad Library
Collection consists of the corporate archives of the American Car and Foundry Company and selected predecessor firms. Materials include plans, production data, promotional and advertising items, and thousands of rare photographs cover the many products ACF manufactured for the world's transportation needs. Included are thousands of photographs depicting the company's freight and passenger cars, many of which are shown in multiple views. Selected movies produced by the firm are also included. The collection includes the records of the firm's Research and Development Department. Many of ACF's other business interests - such as nuclear power plants and wartime military production -- are well-represented in the collection. The collection is notable for the inclusion of thousands of detailed Bill of Materials listings for individual freight and passenger cars.

More Information


Hagley Museum and Library. Finding aids for collection.
Hoffecker, Carol. Wilmington, Delaware Portrait of An Industrial City 1830 1910. Charlottesville, VA: University Press of Virginia, 1974.
White, John. "Railroad Car Builders of the United States." Railroad History, 138 (Spring, 1978).


Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Delaware Geographic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Cost account books Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Albumen prints Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Account books Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Railroads -- Cars Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs -- Black-and-white photoprints -- Silver albumen -- 1850-1900 Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Order books Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Lists -- Photographs Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
National Museum of American History (U.S.). Division of Transportation Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Archives Center, National Museum of American History
P.O. Box 37012
Suite 1100, MRC 601
Washington, D.C. 20013-7012
Business Number: Phone: 202-633-3270
Fax Number: Fax: 202-786-2453