Nina Heald Webber Cape Cod Canal collection

Collection Type

  • Manuscripts


1827-2015, undated, predominant 1910-1969

Location Note

HGO-02-002-D-A-101, HGO-02-002-D-A-102, HGO-02-002-D-A-103



Browse Collection


This collection documents the history of the Cape Cod Canal from its construction in the early 1910s to the early 2010s. The materials in the collection date from 1827 to 2015, with the bulk of the material dating from the 1910s to the 1960s. The collection consists of photographic prints, photograph albums, postcards, lantern slides, memorabilia, brochures, toll schedules, decals, maps, matchbooks, menus, placemats, stock certificates, government publications, periodicals, and more. See series descriptions for details.


Descriptive Terms

bridges (built works)
dredgers (watercraft)
excavation (process)
manuscripts (document genre)

Physical Description

9 linear ft. (5 cartons; 2 flat boxes; 1 clamshell box; 1 small object box; 2 slide lantern boxes; rolled storage

Custodial History

The collection was created by Mrs. Webber through multiple acquisitions of individual items or small groups of items over the course of years. Mrs. Webber has had a lifelong interest in the Cape Cod Canal and in collecting, and she enjoys making historical materials available to the public through museums, archives, academic institutions, and historical societies.

Collection Code


Collection Name

Nina Heald Webber Cape Cod Canal collection

Reference Code



This collection includes photographs, ephemera, publications, maps, and memorabilia documenting the history of the Cape Cod Canal.

Acquisition Type


Credit Line

Gift of Nina Heald Webber, multiple donations between 2006 and 2015.


Barnstable (Barnstable county, Massachusetts)
Bourne (Barnstable county, Massachusetts)
Buzzards Bay (Bourne, Barnstable county, Massachusetts) [neighborhood]
Cape Cod Canal (Massachusetts) [canal]
Sagamore (Bourne, Barnstable county, Massachusetts) [neighborhood]
Sandwich (Barnstable county, Massachusetts)

Record Details


Webber, Nina Heald (Collector)

Material Type

manuscripts (document genre)

Other People

Belmont, August, 1853-1924
Parsons, William Barclay, 1859-1932
Small, Fred C.
Webber, Nina Heald

Other Organizations

United States. Army. Corps of Engineers


This collection is available for research.

Publications Referencing This Collection

(2013.). Cape Cod Canal /Timothy T. Orwig for Historic New England.. Arcadia Publishing,.

Description Level


Location Note

HGO-02-002-D-A-101, HGO-02-002-D-A-102, HGO-02-002-D-A-103

Accruals Note

Accruals are expected.

Appraisal, Destruction, and Scheduling Note

The books that were donated as part of this collection have been removed from the collection and transferred to the Historic New England Library & Archives book collection.

Language Note

Materials are entirely in English.

Preferred Citation

[Item identification.] Box #, folder #. Nina Heald Webber Cape Cod Canal collection (MS028). Historic New England, Library & Archives.

Processing Information

This collection was originally processed by Historic New England intern Dominique Ledoux, 2013; it was updated by Librarian/Archivist Abigail Cramer, January, 2014 and February, 2015 and further updated in 2017 by Archives Manager Cristina Prochilo.

Rules and Conventions

This finding aid is DACS Second Edition compliant.

Related Items

General photographic collection, 1860s-2000s
Cassier’s magazine. (1911). Cassier’s magazine, vol. 39, November, 1910-April, 1911. New York, NY: Cassier Magazine Co.
Conway, J. N. (2008). The Cape Cod Canal: Breaking through the bared and bended arm. Charleston, SC: History Press.
DiGregorio, M., & Wallner, J. (1985). Wildflowers of the Cape Cod Canal: An annotated checklist. Bourne, MA: Bourne Historical Commission.
Farson, R. H. (1977). The Cape Cod Canal. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press.
Ferguson, L. W. (1982). Cape Cod collection: Unit #1, Cape Cod Canal. Salt Lake City, UT: L. W. Ferguson.
Howland, L. (1987). Sou’west and by west of Cape Cod: The classic evocation of New England shore, sea, and islands. Dublin, NH: Yankee Books.
Ivers, H. B. (Ed.). (1935). The official old home week and Canal Bridge dedication book: Cape Cod. Boston, MA: George D. Hall.
Keene, B. D. (1975). History of Bourne from 1622 to 1937. Bourne, MA: Bourne Historical Society.
Langdon, W. C. (1916). The pageant of Cape Cod. Boston, MA: Blanchard Print. Co.
Massachusetts, General Court, Joint Committee on Ship Canal to Connect Barnstable Bay and Buzzard’s Bay. (1864). Report of the Joint Committee of 1860 upon the proposed canal to unite Barnstable and Buzzard’s bays. Boston, MA: Wright & Potter.
Parkman, A. (1978). Army engineers in New England: The military and civil work of the Corps of Engineers in New England, 1775-1975. Waltham, MA: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England Division.
Quinn, W. P. (1973). Shipwrecks around Cape Cod: A collection of photographs and data covering the period from the late 1800s to 1973 on Cape Cod. Farmington, ME: Knowlton & McLeary.
Reid, W. J. (1961). The building of the Cape Cod Canal, 1627-1914. New York, NY: [?].
Torrington Company, Bantam Bearings Division. (1950). Anti-friction bearing design for movable span bridges. South Bend, IN: Torrington Company.

Historical/Biographical Note

Historical/Biographical Note

The Cape Cod Canal was first proposed in 1623 by Miles Standish as a means to avoid the treacherous sailing conditions around Cape Cod. In 1776, George Washington ordered the first survey of the area, but little progress was made. Additional unsuccessful attempts to initiate the construction of a canal were made, including by the Cape Cod Ship Canal Company, but it was not until 1909, under the direction of August Belmont and with the engineering leadership of William Barclay Parsons, that the Boston, Cape Cod, and New York Canal Company began to make progress in earnest. Over the course of five years, the Company changed the landscape, roadways, and railroads; faced numerous hardships due to equipment failures, flooding, and unanticipated obstacles; and ultimately opened the Cape Cod Canal in 1914.

In 1918, the strategic importance of the Canal became apparent to President Woodrow Wilson, and the United States government took control of it for the duration of World War I. After the war, negotiations with Belmont continued until 1928 when Congress authorized the purchase of the Canal. The Army Corps of Engineers executed a number of improvements to the Canal, including building three new bridges which opened in 1935 and deepening the Canal by 1940. The Cape Cod Canal continues to be a vital resource for industry and leisure today.


Orwig, T. T. (2013). Images of America: Cape Cod Canal. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing.

Material in Other Collections

Material in Other Collections

Bourne Historical Society, Bourne, Massachusetts.
Cape Cod Canal Collection (MS. 101). Sturgis Library Archives, Barnstable, Massachusetts.
File Numbers 13-7, 13-7.5, 13-7.7, 13-7.8, 13-3.9. Massachusetts State Archives, Boston, Massachusetts.
Records of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Record Group 77). National Archives, San Francisco, California.
William Brewster Nickerson Cape Cod History Archives. Cape Cod Community College, West Barnstable, Massachusetts.



There was no original order to this collection. It has been arranged into five series as follows: Series I. Ephemera, 1897-2014; Series II. Manuscripts and drawings, 1897-1985, undated; Series III. Memorabilia, 1914-1984, undated; Series IV. Photographic material, 1884-1993, undated; Series V. Publications, 1827-2015, undated (bulk 1880s-1950s)