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Aspinwall Family Papers

Identifier: M260


The Aspinwall Family Papers consist of letters and documents written by William H. Aspinwall, or relating to the Pacific Mail Steamship Company, which he founded. Other material concerns Lloyd Aspinwall, who appears to be the son of William. Finally, there are documents from the person who found and saved the letters and Wayne Aspinall, who might have been distantly related.


  • 1954-1967


Biographical / Historical

The Aspinwalls were prominent New York shipping executives. William H. Aspinwall joined the firm of Howland and Aspinwall, which was founded by his cousins. He assumed control of the firm in 1835 and expanded its trade to South America, China, Europe, the Mediterranean and the East and West Indies. In 1848 he started the Pacific Mail Steamship Company with a government contract to deliver mail from the Isthmus of Panama to Oregon Territory. The discovery of gold in California ensured the success of the venture.

After retiring, he was a founder of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He died January 18, 1875.

William's son, Lloyd, was born in 1830. During the Civil War he was an aide to General Burnside at Fredericksburg. After the war he became a brigadier general with the 4th New York Brigade. He continued his father's work with both steamships and railroads.


0.25 Linear Feet (1 legal half document box)

Scope and Contents

The Aspinwall Family Papers consist of correspondence and documents from and to William H. Aspinwall from 1854 until the Civil War. They cover both the steamship business and the lead up to the Civil War. The Lloyd Aspinwall papers include a letter from him to his father, and various letters to and about him, including one from General Burnside. Finally, there are two letters from G. W. Alcock to Wayne Aspinall from 1967. Alcock's brother rescued the letters and documents from being shredded when an estate of one of the Aspinwalls was closed. He offered them to Wayne Aspinwall who was interested in the history even through he determined they were probably not related.


The papers are organized into three series. 1. William H. Aspinwall Papers. 2. Lloyd Aspinwall Papers. 3. Alcock - Aspinall correspondence.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Removed from the Wayne Aspinall Papers during processing, 12/2008.


No further accruals are expected.

Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and Archives Repository

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