John H. White Jr.

John Henry White Jr. (born November 10, 1933) is an American historian and museum curator.

John H. White Jr.
Born (1933-11-10) November 10, 1933 (age 88)
Alma materMiami University
Scientific career
InstitutionsSmithsonian Institution, Department of Science and Technology
Division of Transportation
Museum of History and Technology, National Museum of American History


John Hoxland White Jr., was born on November 10, 1933, in Cincinnati, Ohio. In his early years, he explored tanneries and the Cincinnati Union Terminal, where he was particularly interested in the roundhouse. From this, White developed a yearning to become a locomotive engineer. His first job during high school entailed working on a gearbox assembly line at the Triumph Manufacturing Company. He enrolled at Miami University, near his home, and during his college years worked at the McGowan Pump Company, where he learned drafting. In 1958, he graduated with bachelor's degree in modern European history from Miami University. As soon as he graduated he got an internship position as a museum aide at the Smithsonian Institution. His early years at the Smithsonian Institution were spent working on ship models for Howard I. Chapelle, the curator of transportation. His internship was extended from time to time until his position as made permanent in 1960, when he became an associate curator in the Land Transportation Section. From 1961 until 1966 he was an associate curator of railroads at the Museum of History and Technology (renamed the National Museum of American History, curator from 1967–1985, and senior historian from 1986 until his retirement in 1989.[1]

White authored an important series of books on American railroad history. These carefully researched and well documented works are valuable for all students and enthusiasts of transportation history.


Title Publication date Pages Notes
Cincinnati Locomotive Builders 1845-1868 1965 167 Smithsonian Bulletin 245
Early American Locomotives (Trains) June 1, 1972 142 Dover; 19th century engravings, with brief history
Horsecars, Cable Cars and Omnibuses June 1, 1974 107 Dover; images, with brief history
A History of the American Locomotive: Its Development, 1830–1880 January 1, 1980 528
The John Bull: 150 Years a Locomotive October 1, 1981 144
The American Railroad Passenger Car March 1, 1985 704
The Great Yellow Fleet: A History of American Railroad Refrigerator Cars December 1, 1986 186
The American Railroad Freight Car: From the Wood-Car Era to the Coming of Steel October 1, 1993 656
American Locomotives: An Engineering History, 1830–1880 December 11, 1997 624 Updated/expanded edition of his 1980 book
The Island Queen: Cincinnati's Excursion Steamer (with Robert J. White Sr.) March 1, 2001 115
Cincinnati: City of Seven Hills (Ohio) (History) 2001 128
On the Right Track: Some Historic Cincinnati Railroads 2003 160
Wet Britches and Muddy Boots: A History of Travel in Victorian America November 22, 2012 544 Indiana University Press, Railroads Past and Present series


  1. ^ "Biography". Smithsonian Institution Archives. Retrieved April 19, 2012.

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