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W.J. Young & Co. Records

Identifier: msc0550

Scope and Contents

The following information about the collection is from a note in the bibliography of George Wesley Sieber, Sawmilling on the Mississippi, the J.W. Young Lumber Company, 1850 -1900. PhD dissertation, The University of Iowa, 1960:

The major source of information for this work was the W. J. Young & Company Collection in the Main Library at the State University of Iowa, Iowa City. Some of the items in the collection are not labeled; some letter books are without covers; pages are missing, as well as entire volumes; but on the whole the material is quite complete and well preserved, and consists approximately of the following: 186 Letter Press Books, averaging 1,000 pages, including estimates, invoices, other correspondence with customers, and letters touching upon the problems of obtaining sawlogs, manufacturing, and marketing lumber. Many of the letters are in Young's handwriting and quite readable to the practiced eye, although occasional pages are so indistinct as to make their reading impossible, or at best, an extremely slow process. Some of the volumes contain their original numbers on the bindings. Others are numbered inside the covers, or on the first page. The headings: General Letters; Estimates; or Invoices, are on numerous covers. Book 57 is particularly valuable for information on the administration of pine lands and logging and is in Box 173.

A second group of Letter Press Books, in chronological order on the same shelves with the others, consists of books not used at Clinton, but at the branch yards of Wheatland, Belle Plaine, Tama, Council Bluffs, and Omaha. These volumes are lettered inside the covers from A to U. Much of the branch yard correspondence was with the Clinton home office, and the same letters are in Box 56 of the firm's incoming correspondence.

The Incoming correspondence is spread among 174 boxes, average size being 6x6x24 inches. They are numbered and labeled only vaguely as to contents. The vast majority of the letters consist of dealers' orders for lumber. Some of the boxes contain nothing but freight bills, loading slips, time tickets, and cancelled checks. Boxes 42, 54, 64, 108, 109, and 153 contain some of Young's personal receipts and correspondence, including a few letters from Frederick Weyerhaeuser. Box 174 contains Young's family correspondence.


  • 1855-1914
  • 1870-1890

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright restrictions may apply; please consult Special Collections staff for further information.


231.00 linear feet

Language of Materials



Correspondence, letter books, estimates, order books, sales records, cashbooks, ledgers, daybooks, journals, payroll books, account books, invoices, freight bills, loading slips, time tickets, canceled checks, trial balances, balance sheets, statistics on purchases and output, contracts, towboat logs, a pine land register, a manifest, and other records of the home office in Clinton and select branch offices.

Method of Acquisition

Floyd E. Risvold of Minneapolis gave materials, including logging contracts and correspondence, in 1958.The main body of records was given to the Univeristy of Iowa Libraries by Robert Evans, President of the W.J. Young Company, in 1969.
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the University of Iowa Special Collections Repository

Special Collections Department
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City IA 52242 IaU
319-335-5900 (Fax)