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(2.5 cubic feet: 2 DB, 4 Flt B, 21 vols.)

by: Robert S. Harding, April 1984


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 paneling 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.

Scope and Content Note

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 twenty-one volumes of photographs of finished cars, arranged by lot number. These have separate indexes arranged alphabetically and by photograph number (volumes 6, 7, 9, 10 & 13 are missing).  The volumes are in need of restoration.

Related Collections

The Delaware State Archives contains a 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.


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).

Container List

Box   Folder
Series 1: RECORDS, 1894-1948
1 1 Electric cars orders, 1894-1900
2 Electric cars orders, 1899-1909
2 1 Electric cars, detailed specifications, 1898-1905
3 1 Jackson & Sharp Car Company Order book, 1884-1891
4 1 Order book, 1907-1914, Vol. 10-A
6 4 Order book, 1913-1917
5 1 Order book, 1918-1922
2 Order book, 1922-1925
6 1 Jackson & Sharp Car Company List of equipment photographs, 1884-1948
2 Jackson & Sharp Car Company List of equipment photographs, 1907-1912
3 American Car & Foundry Company Production costs record book, 1899-1908
7 1 Order Book, 1907-1914, Vol. 10
1 - 4 Jackson & Sharp Co. - Electric Equipment
5 American Car & Foundry Co. - Electric Equipment
8, 11 & 12,14 - 26 American Car & Foundry Co. - Railroad Equipment

Robert S. Harding, April 1987
revised: Craig Orr, March 1991
Robert S. Harding, November 2001

revised: Alison Oswald, May 2002


Revised: June 5, 2002