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Oliver O. Jensen Papers

Identifier: 2003-0042

Scope and Content

This collections contains drafts of writings and notes, scrapbooks, clippings, print material, and manuscripts for both unpublished and published works; memorandums, financial and legal papers, records and ephemera related to Jensen's professional activities including American Heritage Publication and Connecticut Valley Railroad Company; personal and professional correspondence; photographs (prints, negatives, color slides) taken and collected by Jensen; along with personal and family papers.


  • Creation: undated, 1840s-2001


The collection is open and available for research.

Restrictions on Use

Permission to publish from these Papers must be obtained in writing from both the University of Connecticut Libraries and the owner(s) of the copyright.

Some items are not available for unassisted research use. Researchers wishing to access these items must make prior arrangements with the curator before visiting Archives & Special Collecitons at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center.


Oliver Ormerod Jensen was a writer, editor, self-taught historian, and railroad enthusiast. Born on April 16, 1914, in Ithaca, NY, the son of Gerard E. Jensen and Dorothea Ormerod Jensen, Oliver grew up in New London, Connecticut. He attended Philips Academy at Andover, Massachusetts, matriculated to Yale University and graduated a Phi Beta Kappa student in 1936. Oliver became a free-lance writer for several advertising agencies, developed a board game for Love, Inc., and briefly worked as editor for Judge Magazine until he landed a permanent writing position on the staff of Life Magazine in 1940. After the outbreak of World War II, Oliver took a duration-of-the-war leave from Life in 1942 to join the United States Navy with the rank of ensign. From 1942-1943 he served on the U.S.S. Babbitt, a First World War destroyer employed on convoy duties in North Atlantic and Icelandic waters in addition to Carribean and North African runs. After transfering to naval aviation, Oliver spent time in England among search-plane squadrons and served in the Pacific aboard the U.S.S. Yorktown until the end of the war. Drawing on his experiences in the Navy, Oliver penned Carrier War in 1945 and returned to Life Magazine as a writer/editor until 1950.

Following his employment with Life, Oliver co-founded American Heritage Publishing Company along with James Parton and Joseph J. Thorndike, Jr. The non-advertising, hardcover, popular history magazine American Heritage was launched soon after in 1954. While serving as editor from 1959-1976, Oliver also wrote numerous articles for American Heritage and its sister publication Horizon Magazine. From 1971-1974, Oliver served as president of the Connecticut Valley Railroad Company and from 1976-1980 as chairman of the board of directors. The Connecticut Valley Railroad Company restored tracks along the original Valley Railroad line, transforming the railroad into a popular tourist attraction based in Essex, Connecticut. He appeared on a variety of television programs, including CBS Sunday Morning and Connecticut Profiles for Connecticut Public Television. In 1981, Oliver went on to become chief of the division of prints and photographs at the Library of Congress until 1983. He remained involved with American Heritage Magazine and a variety of clubs and organizations dealing closely with history, railroads and Connecticut, including Connecticut Historical Society, Acorn Club, Friends of the Alice Austen House, Society of American Historians, Eastern National Park and Monument Association, Century Association, Yale Club, and American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society. After spending much of his life in Connecticut, Oliver died on June 30, 2005 and is buried near his home in Norwich.

Oliver wrote and edited several books on American history, including Carrier War (1945), The Revolt of American Women (1951), American Album (1969), The American Heritage History of Railroads in America (1975), America's Yesterday's (1978), Connecticut Railroads: An Illustrated History: One Hundred Fifty Years of Railroad History (1986), High Honor: Recollections by Men and Women of World War II Aviation (1989), and The Miracle of Connecticut (1992).


88.5 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Personal and professional papers of Oliver Ormerod Jensen, writer, editor, self-taught historian, and railroad enthusiast.


Series I: American Heritage Publishing Company (undated, 1949-1986 ) contains materials related to the operation of American Heritage Publishing Company, including the operation of American Heritage and Horizon magazines. It contains memorandums, financial and legal papers, reports and print material.

Series II: Writings (undated, 1936-2000) contains materials related to books, articles and speeches written by Oliver Jensen. It includes edited manuscripts, of both published and unpublished works, research notes, drafts, copies, articles, reviews, publicity materials and micro audio cassettes. It is arranged alphabetically by title.

Series III: Correspondence (undated, 1921-2000) is comprised of Oliver Jensen's personal and professional correspondence.

Series IV: Family and Personal Papers (undated, 1833-1993 ) contains materials associated with Oliver Jensen's genealogy and personal interests. It includes collected family correspondence, print material, postcards, ephemera, notes, artwork, legal documents, award plaques, appointment books, drawings, school and financial records. It is organized into appropiate subseries and arranged topically. Subseries A: Family Papers is comprised of materials related to Jensen's family, including his parents, wives, grandparents and ancestry arranged alphabetically by family name. Subseries B: Personal Papers and Subseries C: Travel and Other Interests contains Jensen's personal papers from various stages in his life and collected materials associated with his interests, including railroad travel and regional trips. Both subseries are arranged topically. Subseries D: Artifacts is comprised of award plaques and other various pieces gathered by Oliver Jensen and is arranged alphabetically. Subseries E: Artwork contains a varitey of maps, illustrations and historic posters used for display at Jensen's home and office. It is arranged alphabetically.

Series V: Clubs and Associations (undated, 1939-2000) contains materials relating to Oliver Jensen's involvement with various clubs and associations. It includes print material and ephemera, memorandums, press releases, pamphlets, agendas and VHS cassettes.

Series VI: Other Professional Activities (undated, 1938-2001) contains papers associated with Oliver Jensen's professional activities outside of American Heritage Publishing Company. It includes financial and legal papers, meeting agendas, newsletters, reports, VHS and U-matic video casettes, contracts, print material, emphemera, and records related to his involvement in, among several other companies and ventures, Love Inc., the United States Navy, The Valley Railroad Company, Library of Congress, and Life Magazine. It is divided into the appropiate subseries and arranged topically.

Series VII: Photographs (undated, 1840s-1990s) consists of photographs taken by and collected by Oliver Jensen. It includes color slides, tintypes, glass plates, cabinet cards, cartes de visite, daguerrotypes, mounted prints, proof sheets, color transparencies, stereoscopic views and negatives. It is organized into the appropiate subseries, each uniquely arranged to assist researchers. Subseries A: Personal contains personal photographs of Oliver Jensen's life and is arranged chronologicaly. Subseries B: Family contains photographs relating to Oliver Jensen's parents, grandparents and extended family, organized according to family name/subject. Subseries C: United States Navy is comprised of photographs relating to Oliver Jensen's involvement with the United States Navy and is arranged chronologicaly. Subseries D: Valley Railroad Company contains photographs relating to Connecticut Valley Railroad events and operations, and is arranged topically. Subseries E: Love, Inc. includes promotional prints for Love, Inc and the Love Game. Subseries F: Promotional consists of photgraphs of Oliver Jensen intended for publication or other professional means, arranged chronologicaly. Subseries G: Alice Austen is comprised of prints made by Oliver Jensen from Alice Austen plates, many of which include extensive notes by Oliver Jensen regarding the original details and descriptions given by Alice Austen. It is arranged alphabetically by title. Subseries H: Railroad and Subseries I: Trolley and Other Transportation contains photographs taken by and largely collected by Oliver Jensen as a result of his interests in railroads, trolleys and riverboats. Both subseries are arranged according to subject. Lastly, Subseries J: Research Materials is comprised of photographs corresponding to Oliver Jensen's research for his publications and is arranged topically. The entire series consists of aproximately 3050 photographic images, 700 neagtives and 475 color transparencies.

Acquisition Information

The collection was donated to the University of Connecticut by Oliver O. Jensen in 2003.

Related Material

Archives & Special Collections has a substantial collection of materials pertaining to literature, various aspects of history, and New England railroads. For detailed information on these collections please contact the curator or ask at the Reading Room desk.

Separated Material

The following materials have been separated from the collection and cataloged:

America's yesterdays Dodd D2287

American Album Dodd D2288, C10756

American heritage Dodd Periodicals American Railroad Passenger Car Dodd D2161 Before freedom came Dodd C10897

Book of trains Dodd CLC D2804

Bruce Catlan's America Dodd C10753

Build it with scissors Dodd CLC D2803

Carrier war Dodd C10755

Central New England Railroad Dodd XAI.31 No. 121

College album Dodd C10894

Crossings Dodd C10896

Four days Dodd

Let freedom ring Dodd D2236

Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, December 1964 Dodd C10895

Private world of Katharine Hepburn Dodd D2260 Railroad Maps of North America Dodd D2160 Swift sword Dodd D2237

Wind and sand Dodd C10989

Oliver O. Jensen Papers
Archives & Special Collections staff
2007 January
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Archives and Special Collections, University of Connecticut Library Repository

University of Connecticut Library
405 Babbidge Road Unit 1205
Storrs Connecticut 06269-1205 USA US