The William Halsey Locomotive Drawings Collection

Illustration of a locomotiveDeGolyer Library has added 23 illustrations to its William Halsey locomotive drawing collection. The Halsey illustrations were first purchased by Everette DeGolyer Jr. from Kennedy Galleries in New York in 1963. DeGolyer Jr., much like his father who founded our library, was a passionate bibliophile and collector. One of his greatest interests was railroads, and he focused much of his time collecting photographs, drawings, maps, business archives, and anything else he could find related to the history of the railroad. It’s easy to see why he was taken with the Halsey illustrations.  

When DeGolyer purchased the pieces, almost nothing was known about the artist. His bio was scant—born sometime around 1845, he was a railroad enthusiast probably working in the New York region from the 1860s through the 1880s. He’s believed to have passed away around 1900. 

Our recent donation included not just illustrations, but a richer portrait of the artist. In the 19th century, William Halsey’s parents took in a young girl whose mother had passed away. She was raised with Halsey and formed a close enough relationship that she came to possess a number of his works. She grew up, married, and raised her own family, who passed on the illustrations to the donors—the woman’s great-granddaughters, who gifted DeGolyer Library these 23 prints. 

 We’re happy to reunite these prints with our larger collection and bring more detail and attention to the life and works of the artist. 

Click here to browse the William Halsey locomotive drawing collection.

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