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Joseph B. Eastman (AC 1904) Papers

Identifier: MA.00197

Scope and Contents

The Joseph B. Eastman (AC 1904) Papers cover chiefly the period 1898-1944 and offer a valuable picture of Eastman's 25-year career in the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC). His professional papers include extensive correspondence, speeches, transcripts of hearings and extensive sets of ICC reports. It also includes family correspondence, diaries, photographs, clippings and memorabilia related to Eastman's personal life. The collection also includes letters, notes and manuscript drafts related to Claude Moore Fuess's biography of Eastman.


  • Creation: 1837-1960
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1904-1944


Conditions Governing Access

There is no restriction on access to the Joseph B. Eastman (AC 1904) Papers for research use. Particularly fragile items may be restricted for preservation purposes. This collection is housed in off-site storage and requires advance notice before use. Please contact Archives and Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Use

Requests for permission to publish material from Joseph B. Eastman (AC 1904) Papers should be directed to the Archives and Special Collections. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights.

Biographical / Historical

Born at Katonah, N.Y., on June 26, 1882, Joseph Bartlett Eastman was the son of a Presbyterian minister, Rev. John Huse Eastman, and Lucy (King) Eastman. He received a B.A. from Amherst College in 1904 and was then accepted as a fellow at the South End House in Boston, position that would launch him on a lifelong career as a public servant. In 1905, Eastman was appointed by later U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis the secretary of the Public Franchise League. While in that position, he fought against attempts by the Boston Elevated Railway to gain control of the city's subway system. In 1907, Eastman enrolled in the Boston University Law School, but dropped out after two years. He worked for the Public Franchise League until 1913, when he resigned in order to act as counselor for various Street Railway employees' organizations.

Two years later, Eastman became a member of the Massachusetts Public Service Commission where he worked until President Woodrow Wilson nominated him to the Interstate Commerce Commission in late 1918. The ICC was an independent agency of the U.S. government which regulated the operation of railroads, trucking companies, bus lines, freight forwarders, water carriers, oil pipelines, transportation brokers, and express agencies engaged in transportation between states. By appointment of President Franklin Roosevelt, Eastman also served the office of Federal Coordinator of Transportation from 1933 to 1936 and was Director of Defense Transportation from 1942 to 1944.

Joseph B. Eastman earned the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws from Amherst (1926) and Dartmouth (1941). He was elected a trustee of Amherst College in 1940. He never married and lived with his sister Elizabeth Eastman until his death in 1944.


84 Linear feet (34 records storage boxes, 62 archives boxes, 2 half archives boxes, 8 oversize boxes, 2 tape boxes)

Language of Materials



Correspondence, diaries, diplomas, newspaper clippings, photographs, speeches, reports, miscellaneous printed matter and memorabilia chiefly documenting Eastman's 25-year career in the U.S. Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC), 1919-1944, as well as memorabilia and other materials related to Eastman's personal life.


This collection is organized into four series:

  1. Series 1: Correspondence, 1917-1944
  2. Series 2: Speeches, 1918-1944
  3. Series 3: Professional Activities, 1837-1944
  4. Series 4: Biographical Material, 1898-1960

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The materials in this collection came from a wide variety of sources over time. The first records seem to have been provided by the Joseph Eastman Foundation not long after Eastman's death in 1944. A significant amount of correspondence, personal files and printed matter was subsequently sent by his sister Elizabeth Eastman to Amherst College in 1953. Additional materials have come from donations made by Frances S. Shine (whose mother was Eastman's first cousin) in 1958, and by Mr. Rufus Lisle in 1994.

Related Materials

Alumni Biographical Files -- 1904 -- Eastman, Joseph B. Alumni Biographical Files -- 1905 -- Fuess, Claude Moore

Interstate Commerce Commission records, 1887-1995. National Archives and Records Administration (

Processing Information

The records donated by Elizabeth Eastman were previously organized by subject and accompanied by an index card file prepared by her. In this case, the original order of the records was maintained, but all of the remaining materials in the collection were rearranged during processing.

Isadora Mota
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Amherst College Archives and Special Collections Repository

Amherst College Archives & Special Collections
Robert Frost Library
61 Quadrangle Drive
Amherst MA 01002-5000
(413) 542-2299