University of Delaware Library

Special Collections Department

William Livermore Papers

1814 - 1919


Manuscript Collection Number: 157
Accessioned: Gift of the Moyerman family, 1970
Extent: 1.4 linear ft. (ca. 1200 items)
Content: Letters, reports, orders, sketches, maps, charts, blueprints, proposals, receipts, invitations, announcements, photos, resumes, and income tax forms
Access: The collection is open for research.
Processed: 1989-1990 by Kim Sebold

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Special Collections, University of Delaware Library
Newark, Delaware 19717-5267
(302) 831-2229

Table of Contents

Biographical Note

William Roscoe Livermore (1843-1919) was born in Massachussetts, and educated at Harvard and West Point during the years of the Civil War. He graduated in 1865 and joined the Army Corps of Engineers. In 1870 he was promoted to captain; in 1884, to major; and in 1904, to colonel. He worked on a variety of projects for the Corps of Engineers between 1865 and 1899, some of them in association with the Naval War College. Significant projects included fortifications of Key West and the Tortugas (Florida) and work on the first cable from the United States to Havana; fortifications and river, harbor, and lighthouse improvements in the Northeast and in Missouri; and surveying in the Great Lakes area and Texas. He maintained a lifelong interest in surveying and mapping, and helped develop and adapt large-scale military surveying and the German method of "studying the Art of War upon a map" for use by the U.S. Army. He also published a manual of tactics, Maneuvers for Infantry, in 1884. In 1899 he was sent to Europe as Military Attaché to the embassies at Copenhagen and Stockholm, and travelled to Germany and Russia to witness army maneuvers.

Livermore's diverse interests in science, technology, and history were expressed in invention and publication in several areas. While working to improve fog-signaling systems, he invented an improved bell-striking device which was patented in 1899. His interest in firearms led him to develop, with Colonel A. H. Russell, magazine and automatic weapons and the method of loading by clips. Together they patented a magazine gun in 1879 and a cartridge packing case in 1883. Livermore was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in the section of chemistry and published a paper on the mathematical relations of atomic weights in the Journal of the American Chemical Society (Vol. XII, No. 9). He completed a history of the Civil War begun by a colleague (John C. Ropes) at the Massachusetts Historical Society, and had been working on a historical atlas of Europe before his death in a New York hospital in 1919.


Note: Biographical information is derived from items in the collection.

Scope and Content Note

The William Livermore Papers give a comprehensive account of the career of a U.S. Army engineer in the mid-to-late nineteenth century. The ca. 1200 items (1.4 linear ft.) span the dates 1814-1919 and are arranged in two series: Military and Personal papers. The papers relating to Livermore's military career consist of correspondence supplemented by other military papers, including orders, tactical notes, sketches, charts, maps, reports, essays and other writings, and biographical material. Personal papers in the collection consist of correspondence, mostly with family members, income tax records and receipts, invitations and programs, and other memorabilia, including manuscripts, notebooks, and clippings.

Military Correspondence consists primarily of incoming correspondence directed to Livermore from his military colleagues, West Point classmates, and representatives of various government branches such as Congress, the War Department, the U.S. Army, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Adjutant General, and the Headquarters Department of the East and Governor's Island. Correspondence concerns general military business, notably matters relating to his work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; personnel matters; plans for a war college; Livermore's application for promotion to Brigadier General of Volunteers; and his participation in a proposal to purchase a memorial window in the West Point Cathedral. Also present is correspondence regarding membership from clubs such as the National Geographic Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Other correspondence concerns Livermore's professional interests such as weaponry, military history, and chemistry, and his writings and lectures. Occasional personal correspondence (including some outgoing letters) is also present.

The Orders subseries contains official military orders relating to Livermore's stations and transfers to and from various locales including Baltimore; Washington, D.C.; Lake Superior; Key West, Florida; San Antonio, Texas; and Newport, Rhode Island. The Tactics subseries includes memoranda and documents relating to the positioning of soldiers, weapons, and ships for battle. Also present is a pamphlet entitled "A Survey of German Tactics, 1918" printed by the U.S. War Department. Sketches, Charts, and Maps includes those used during Livermore's survey of Western Texas and his involvement in military maneuvers.

The final three subseries in the Military series provide a more personal overview of Livermore's military career with reports, resume information, and speeches and essays written by Livermore. The subseries Reports contains Livermore's official reports written for the army on a variety of topics including experiments conducted on cement, the armament of the Cabañas in Cuba, and the changing technologies of warfare. Also included is a report Livermore wrote for Carly G. Rapt on his experiences surveying Western Texas during the period 1879-1885. Photographs and Biographical Material includes photos of Livermore during his military career which are attached to copies of his resume. Livermore appears to have gathered this material together for his application for promotion to Brigadier General. The Miscellaneous subseries includes information proposing the start of an Army War College, instructions on property purchases and vouchers, instructions for chiefs of shore parties, memoranda, notes on seacoast fortifications and maneuvers, and drafts of essays. Also included are several speeches Livermore presented to his fellow West Point Graduates and to the Massachusetts Military Historical Society.

The Personal Papers Series is divided into five subseries. The first subseries, Correspondence, includes incoming letters to Livermore from his wife Augusta Keen Livermore during the years 1884-1909, and from his brothers, father, mother and other relatives between 1853 and 1919. Also included are letters from Livermore to various relatives and one folder of miscellaneous drafts of letters from Livermore.

The next three subseries in the Personal Papers provide household financial and social information. Income Tax Records contains information pertaining to Livermore's income tax payments as well as copies of tax forms, 1914-1917. Included in Invitations and Programs are calling cards, postcards, and invitations from various military acquaintances and clubs for social gatherings, dances, and other activities. Also present are programs from The Century Twelfth Night Celebration and Daly's Fifth Avenue Theatre. The Receipts subseries contains a small group of receipts from publishers, social clubs, post office, hospitals, the War Department, and Western Union Telegraph company.

The final Personal Papers subseries, Miscellaneous, contains legal papers, minutes from the American Chemical Society, manuscripts of essays and speeches by Livermore on various topics including liberal arts and history, the campaigns of Napoleon, and poetry. It also includes newspaper articles, a pamphlet, notes on atomic weights, studies on human speech, material relating to Livermore's invention and patent of a bell ringer and various weaponry, two notebooks containing Livermore's notes and copies of letters, and a copy of a published biography of Livermore.

Series List

I.   Military, 1843-1919
     I.1   Correspondence, 1858-1919
     I.2   Orders, 1868-1915
     I.3   Tactics, n.d.
     I.4   Sketches, Charts, and Maps, 1881-1899
     I.5   Reports, 1867-1918
     I.6   Photographs and Biographical Material, 1843-1919
     I.7   Miscellaneous, 1897-1905

II.  Personal Papers, 1853-1919
     II.1  Correspondence, 1853-1919
     II.2  Income Tax Records, 1914-1917
     II.3  Invitations and Programs, 1869-1919
     II.4  Receipts, 1877-1918
     II.5  Miscellaneous, 1897-1905 

Contents List

Box -- Folder -- Contents

          Series I.  Military, 1843-1919
               Series consists of papers relating to William
               Livermore's military career.  Included are
               correspondence, reports, maps, orders, and

          Series I.1. Correspondence, 1858-1919
               587 items
          General military correspondence
1    F1   1858-1869
     F2   1870
     F3   1880-1886
     F4   1887-1889
     F5   1890-1893
     F6   1894-1898
     F7   1901-1903
     F8   1904-1908
     F9   1911-1916
     F10  1917

2    F11  1918  Jan - May
     F12  1918  Jun - Nov
     F13  1919
     F14  n.d.
     F15  n.d.

          Relating to Livermore's application for the rank of
          Brigadier General (1898-1905)
     F16  1898
     F17  1899
     F18  1899
     F19  1904
     F20  1905

          Relating to West Point Cathedral Memorial Window
          project, 1915-1919
     F21  1915-1917
     F22  1917-1919

          Series I.2.  Orders, 1868-1915
               15 items

3    F23  Orders, 1868-1915

          Series I.3.  Tactics, n.d.
               7 items
     F24- Tactics, n.d.

          Series I.4.  Sketches, Charts, and Maps, 1881-1899
               72 items
               Note: 15 oversize items formerly in F29 have been
               removed to Oversize manuscript shelves; 2 oversize
               sketches from F29 have been removed and are filed
               in the mapcase.

     F26- Sketches and charts

4              Series I.5.  Reports, 1867-1918
               8 items
     F30  1867
     F31  n.d.
     F32  1899-1918

          Series I.6.  Photographs and Biographical Material,
               31 items
     F33  Photographs and biographical material, 1843-1919

               Series I.7.  Miscellaneous, 1897-1905
               26 items
     F34  Army War College, 1897
          War Maneuvers, n.d.
     F35  Manuscripts, 1903-1904
     F36  Speeches, 1889, 1916-1917, n.d.
     F37  Correspondence, 1903, 1904, n.d.
     F38  Bills [of legislation], n.d.

          Series II.  Personal Papers, 1853-1919
               Includes correspondence, income tax papers,
               invitations, programs, receipts, correspondence,
               manuscripts, and miscellaneous personal papers of
               William Livermore and his family.

          Series II.1.  Correspondence, 1853-1919
               171 items
          Correspondence from Augusta Keen Livermore
5    F39  1884-1888
     F40  1892-1895
     F41  1896-1909
          Other personal correspondence
     F42  1853-1882
     F43  1883-1896
     F44  1897-1917
     F45  1918-1919
     F46  n.d.

          Series II.2.  Income Tax Records, 1914-1917
               23 items

     F47  Income tax records, 1914-1917
          Series II.3.  Invitations and Programs
               138 items

     F48  Invitations and Programs, n.d.
     F49  Invitations and Programs, n.d.
     F50  Invitations and Programs, 1895-1919
     F51  Invitations and Programs, 1869-1894

          Series II.4.  Receipts, 1877-1918
               11 items

     F52  Receipts, 1877-1918

          Series II.5.  Miscellaneous
               115 items

     F53  Legal papers
     F54  Newspaper clippings.  Originals are retained and
          accompanied by a set of preservation photocopies.
     F55  Miscellaneous notes and documents
6    F56  Manuscripts
     F57  Manuscripts
     F5   Studies on human speech
     F59  Atomic weights

     F60  Fog Bell Striking System
     F61  The Russell Magazine Gun, 1880, 1884, 1889
          The W.R. Livermore & A.H. Russell Magazine Gun, 1879
     F62  F. Rees Repeating Fire Alarm, 1886
          W.R. Livermore & A.H. Russell Cartridge Packing Case,
          A.H. Russell Magazine Gun, 1884

     F63  Notebooks.  Includes one small leather notebook
          containing miscellaneous notes and sketches, and a
          large bound copybook containing drafts of Livermore's
          outgoing letters and reports with various items laid
     F64  Biographical pamphlet.  Lowell, Abbott Lawrence.
          William Roscoe Livermore.  Boston: [Massachusetts
          Historical Society], 1920.

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