Special Collections Department
Thomas R. Booth Diaries
Manuscript Collection Number: 290
Accessioned: Purchase, April 1992.
Extent: 6 vol.
Access: The collection is open for research.
Processed: September 1993 by Kelly Baum.
Special Collections, University of Delaware Library
Newark, Delaware 19717-5267
Table of Contents
While Booth's activities for the railroad in 1855 consisted mainly of hands-on work, in 1856 he moved to St. Louis and was relegated to doing only office-and paperwork. Then, in the latter part of 1856 and continuing on into 1857 and 1858, Booth transferred to Franklin, Missouri. There, as "assistant engineer," he surveyed land and staked ground. Later in 1858 however, Booth lost his job with the Pacific Railroad as almost all work on the line came to a halt.
In order to earn an income, he took various engineering, mapping, and surveying jobs through the early part of 1859. Finally, in July 1859, Booth was offered a post as assistant engineer on the Osage Valley and Southern Kansas Railroad. He began residing in Tipton in Moniteau County, Missouri, and worked on the construction of this line through 1860.
Booth's diaries carry us close to the outbreak of the civil war and note the growing political tension in the country. Booth himself entered the Union army in Maryland as a private in 1861. On July 22, 1864, he was appointed captain and in 1865 brevet major for meritorious service. After this point however, no more information is available on him.
Source(s):Note: Biographical information is derived from material in the the collection.
Scope and Content Note
Booth's writings focus mainly on aspects of his job as an engineer and detail certain projects he was working on at the time, such as laying tracks or building bridges or tunnels. He provides accounts of the grading, measurement, and structure of the railroad. Booth also describes the problems workers faced in terms of weather and comfort, and the challenges of living in rural towns without much companionship. He mentions the many people he worked for and with, and his acquaintances in the towns in which he lived or visited.
Because Booth was raised in Delaware and also lived in Missouri, both states practicing legalized slavery, the diaries to some extent illustrate his attempts to negotiate problems of race and slavery. A few entries document his encounters with Black slaves who worked underneath him. At the very end of his 1860 diary Booth provides a short commentary on the escalating fear of war. Booth himself participated in the Civil War but as a member of the Union army, in support of the northern states fighting against slavery.
Throughout his diaries, Booth mentions very little about his family or romantic interests and his entries lack clear references to any personal feelings or frustrations, cataloging events more so than emotions. It seems as if Booth never married and the only people he regularly corresponded with or visited during annual trips home were his immediate family. Booth even records the arrival of a telegram announcing the death of his mother with only a brief notation on September 11, 1857.
Diaries, 1855-1860 F1 1855 F2 1856 F3 1857 F4 1858 F5 1859 F6 1860
Back to the UD Special Collections Home Page