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Van Court Railroad Manuscript

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: MG Van Court-(Fileroom)

Scope and Contents

This post binder contains typed pages, index cards, drawings and at least one letter. The material concerns New Jersey railroads. It includes maps, company histories, line histories, and various facts (gauge, line length in miles). Lines/companies are roughly sorted by region. Latest dates are 1948, and "Hoboken Manufacturing Railroad" is listed, which ended in 1954, so it can be placed around 1950. Inclues every railroad in New Jersey from Absecon & Bay to Jersey City to Lackawanna to Pennslyvania to Vineland to Zinc Mines Railroad. Over 600 railroad lines listed.


  • c. 1950


Conditions Governing Use

Photocopying of materials is limited and no materials may be photocopied without permission from library staff. Researchers wishing to publish, reproduce, or reprint materials from this collection must obtain permission.

Biographical / Historical

Donald P. Van Court died at home on Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012. He was born in New Vernon, NY in 1926 and moved to Madison with his family as a small child. Don attended Madison schools and graduated in Madison High School's class of 1949. He served on a destroyer in the US Navy during WW II. He often referred to his Navy time as being "when I was a little boy," since he served two years before his twentieth birthday. Returning, he earned a Bachelor's degree at the Stevens Institute of Technology, where he was a member of Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity. He was also a member of the Tau Beta Pi engineering honor society. Don received his Master's degree in Mechanical Engineering at Cornell University, where he met his wife, Margery.He held licenses as a Professional Engineer in the states of New York and New Jersey. The Western Electric company employed him for twenty five years, in responsibilities related to integrity of their buildings and factories.

After that, Don struck out on his own as a consultant, specializing in non-structural building failure. The State of New Jersey engaged his services regularly, allowing him to claim that he visited "more psychiatric and correctional institutions than any one else except the Governor." He also advised in the preservation of structures important to New Jersey's historical heritage. Don participated actively in technical and professional societies. He was a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), with a particular interest in non-metallic materials used in construction. In addition, he was elevated to Fellow of the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI). He published widely in his field, and presented numerous technical papers at international conferences.

From childhood on, he had a deep interest in all things related to trains and railroads, particularly in railroad history. This lead to an interest in the uniform buttons from railways, shipping lines, and other forms of transportation. Based largely on his own button collection and research, he wrote three books linking the design of uniform buttons to the history of the companies they represented. He was also active in the New Jersey Button Society and served as president of the National Button Society. Not just a parishioner of Grace Church, Madison, Don served as an usher there for many years. At various times, he also acted as treasurer of Boy Scout Troop 125, chaplain in the Chatham chapter of the American Legion, docent at Madison's Museum of Early Trades and Crafts, and volunteer at the Whippany Railway Museum.


.42 Linear Feet (1 Hollinger box)

Language of Materials


No finding aid, text from catalog entry
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Charles F. Cummings New Jersey Information Center, Newark Public Library Repository

3rd Floor
Newark Public Library
5 Washington St.
Newark NJ 07102 United States