We specialize in Americana, especially manuscript materials. We offer manuscript letters and archives, diaries, journals, personal and business correspondence from the 17th century through the 20th.

  • Elmer A. Sperry demonstrating model of gyro-compass 1912
    65 letters, 215 pp. (manuscript & typed), plus over 1,000 photographs, manuscript history & biography, and approximately 50 pieces of paper and manuscript ephemera, dated 1898-1966. Correspondence includes letters of aviation pioneer Laurence B. Sperry, his father inventor Elmer A. Sperry, other children of Elmer A. Sperry (Elmer, Jr. and Helen Sperry), as well as letters written to and from Robert B. Lea, vice-president of the Sperry Gyroscope Company, son-in-law of Elmer A. Sperry, plus others. Manuscripts include typed biography and family history of Elmer A. Sperry, as well as the history of some of Sperry’s companies from his years in Chicago and Cleveland. Photographs are mostly family photos, but also include a number of photos of Sperry's inventions, demonstrations of these inventions, early aircraft, etc.
               Elmer A. Sperry (1860-1930)           Elmer Ambrose Sperry, engineer, inventor an entrepreneur, was born in Cortland, New York, October 12, 1860, son of Stephen Decatur and Mary (Borst) Sperry, and a descendant of Richard Sperry, who, in 1666, secreted and maintained in the Judges Cave at New Haven Colony three of the judges who had condemned Charles I to death. He was educated in the State Normal School in Cortland and then attended Cornell University for one term, from 1879 to 1880.            At Cornell he developed an interest in electrical engineering and began working with a group of industrialists from Syracuse, New York, in order to construct an arc lighting system. By 1882 Sperry was already recognized as one of America's electrical pioneers.           In 1883 Sperry moved to Chicago where he established the Electric Light, Motor, and Car Brake Company. He found that he could not compete with the more established Edison and Brush Electric companies, so he began experimenting with electric coal-mining equipment. In l886 he founded the Sperry Electric Mining Machine Company. During these years Sperry also developed an electric street car. After selling his patents to General Electric, he went to work for the company as a consultant. Sperry also drove the first American-built automobile through the streets of Paris in… more >