Parsons, William Barclay, 1859-1932

Alternative names

Hide Profile

William Barclay Parsons (1859-1932) was an American civil engineer.

From the description of William Barclay Parsons papers, 1880-1939. (New York Public Library). WorldCat record id: 144652400

From the guide to the William Barclay Parsons papers, 1880-1939, (The New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division.)

Civil engineer.

Parsons was associated with the Rapid Transit System of New York, made a survey of Chinese railroads, 1898-1899, was on the Board of consulting engineers for the Panama Canal, 1905, and Chief engineer for the Cape Cod Canal, 1905-1914. He served in both the Spanish-American War and World War I. He is the author of THE AMERICAN ENGINEER IN CHINA, 1900, and other works relating to engineering. (Columbia University A.B., 1879, C.E., 1882).

From the description of Papers, 1899-1915. (Columbia University In the City of New York). WorldCat record id: 122622146

William Barclay Parsons was born to prominent family in New York City in 1859. After studying abroad during his teenage years Parsons attended Columbia University where here received degrees in 1879 and 1882. In 1885 Parsons founded his civil engineering firm that is now Parsons Brinckerhoff.

In 1895, after several years of civil engineering work, Parsons was appointed chief engineer for New York's Rapid Transit Commission, which was charged with designing and building a subway rail system. After spending the year 1899 in China surveying the country's railway system (which is documented in Parson's book An American Engineer in China ). Parson's returned to New York to begin the construction of the city's first subway line. The Interborough Rapid Transit line was completed in 1904.

Parsons was elected to the New York Public Library's Board of Trustees in 1912, replacing Alexander Orr (Chairman of the IRT). After working on the Cape Cod and Panama Canal projects Parsons joined the 11th regiment of US Army Engineers in 1917 to report on engineering problems facing the U.S. military in WWI. After the war Parsons attained the rank of Brigadier General and published his account of the war in his 1920 book T he American Engineers in France . Shortly thereafter Parsons published Robert Fulton and the Submarine in 1922.

Parson's died suddenly in 1932. The Bulletin of The New York Public Library notes that until his death Parsons maintained a deep interest in all that pertained to the welfare of the Library. In 1934 his engineering library (consisting of 1,191 volumes, 27 pamphlets, 53 boxes of maps) was purchased by the New York Public Library.

In addition to his work for The New York Public Library, Parsons was a trustee of the Carnegie Institution, chairman of the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center administrative board, and chairmen of the board of trustees of Columbia University.

From the guide to the William Barclay Parsons collection of Robert Fulton manuscripts, 1796-1919, bulk 1804-1815, (The New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Parsons, William Barclay, 1859-1932. Documents accompanying report by Colonel Parsons on organization [of] railway construction troops, 1918. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Benjamin N. Cardozo letter to William Barclay Parsons New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn John Lawrence Gerig Papers, 1905-1988. Columbia University. Rare Book and Manuscript Library,
referencedIn Oswald Garrison Villard papers, 1872-1949. Houghton Library.
referencedIn E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company. Correspondence, 1805-1901. Hagley Museum & Library
creatorOf Parsons, William Barclay, 1859-1932. William Barclay Parsons papers, 1880-1939. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Parsons, William Barclay, 1859-1932. Papers, 1899-1915. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
creatorOf Cornell University. Cornell University Founder's Day memorabilia, 1901-1991. Cornell University Library
referencedIn Gerig, John L. (John Lawrence), 1878-1957. John L. Gerig papers, 1905-1988. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
referencedIn Pennsylvania Railroad Company. Office of Chief Engineer. Records, 1862-1976 (bulk 1885-1965). Hagley Museum & Library
referencedIn William Woodville Rockhill papers, 1826-1941. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Frank J. Hecker papers, Hecker, Frank J., 1891-1908, 1898-1905 William L. Clements Library , University of Michigan
referencedIn Du Pont, Henry, 1812-1889. Papers, 1822-1899. Hagley Museum & Library
creatorOf Hecker, Frank Joseph, 1846-1927. Frank J. Hecker papers, 1891-1908, bulk 1898-1905. University of Michigan, William Clements Library
creatorOf Webster, E. F. Autograph letters, 1873-1899. Ohio History Connection, Ohio Historical Society
creatorOf William Barclay Parsons papers, 1880-1939 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
creatorOf Parsons, William Barclay, 1859-1932. Diary of Wm. Barclay Parsons, chief engineer Rapid Transit Commission, from the beginning fo work, March 26, 1900, to his resignation as chief engineer, December 31, 1904. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
creatorOf William Barclay Parsons collection of Robert Fulton manuscripts, 1796-1919, bulk 1804-1815 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Cardozo, Benjamin N., 1870-1938 person
associatedWith Cleveland, Grover, 1837-1908. person
associatedWith Columbia University. School of Mines corporateBody
associatedWith Cornell University. corporateBody
associatedWith Du Pont, Henry, 1812-1889. person
associatedWith E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Gerig, John L. (John Lawrence), 1878-1957. person
associatedWith Hecker, Frank Joseph, 1846-1927 person
associatedWith Interborough Rapid Transit Company. corporateBody
associatedWith New York Rapid Transit Commission. corporateBody
associatedWith Parker, Gilbert, 1862-1932. person
associatedWith Pennsylvania Railroad Company. Office of Chief Engineer. corporateBody
associatedWith Rapid Transit System of New York. corporateBody
correspondedWith Rockhill, William Woodville, 1854-1914 person
associatedWith United States. Army. American Expeditionary Forces. corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Army. Corps of Engineers. corporateBody
correspondedWith Villard, Oswald Garrison, 1872-1949 person
associatedWith Webster, E. F. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Cape Cod Canal (Mass.)
Panama
China
Panama Canal (Panama)
United States
New York (State)--New York
New York (State)--New York
Massachusetts--Cape Cod
Subject
Railroads
Mining schools and education
Engineers--Diaries
Subways--Design and construction
Local transit
World War, 1914-1918--Transportation
Engineering--History--16th century
Canals
World War, 1914-1918--Personal narratives
Occupation
Civil engineers
College trustees
Function

Person

Birth 1859-04-15

Death 1932-05-09

Americans

English

Information

Permalink: http://n2t.net/ark:/99166/w62n5f42

Ark ID: w62n5f42

SNAC ID: 5715962