Re: Preserving Historical Media

Brian Rochon

In addition to the SRHA, the B&O Railroad Historical Society also has a permanent archives building and significant document collections.  A team of 12-15 volunteers inventories, scans and archives the collection every Thursday.  We typically save our scanned documents, including photos, maps, drawings and other documents, as .tif files.  From Google:


TIF is an image format file for high-quality graphics. TIF files are also called .TIFF, which stands for “Tagged Image Format File.” TIF files were created in 1986 as a file format for scanned images in an attempt to get all companies to use one standard file format instead of multiple.”


We use PastPerfect as our archiving software to record all of the metadata (who, what, where, when, etc.) for an image and then link the scanned image to the archive.  Theoretically, we will never need to touch the original after this process.  PastPerfect is used by many museums, libraries, and historical societies throughout the country.


Although we have scanned and catalogued over 15,000 documents, we estimate that we have over 100,000 photos, maps and drawings that are not yet scanned and catalogued.  There are several times that number of company documents in the basement.  At least we have job security!


The Society receives donations of collections on a regular basis.   Most recently we received J. David Ingles B&O collection.  On the other hand, we know of several B&O collectors who have passed away and had their families dispose of the collections in whatever manner that they chose.  Several appear to be lost forever.


Brian Rochon

Silver Spring, MD


From: <> On Behalf Of George Eichelberger
Sent: Wednesday, September 8, 2021 10:05 AM
Subject: Re: [RealSTMFC] Preserving Historical Media


I have to “second” all of Jerry’s and Tim’s comments!


As the Southern Railway group’s (SRHA) Archives Director, I am asked quite often if I know what happened to particular photos or document collections. Unfortunately, there may be several answers (other than “I have no idea”), the collection’s whereabouts are unknown but thought to exist somewhere, it was sold off piecemeal, they were donated or acquired by a museum or library, or they reside at one of the railroad historical groups.


Of those options, the “least bad” is where a collection has gone to a museum or library. That answer has a range of access that varies from "it might as well be buried under the building” (the David Salter collection at Kennesaw is an example) to easily researchable and accessible. In my opinion (disagree if you wish), any organization that does not have a specific focus on a particular topic will always be subject to local politics, funding or the personal interests of its management and donors.


Although not always the “best” home for historical material (e.g. individual’s basements or temporary locations), a number of the railroad historical groups have developed into high quality, secure archives that attract material on “their” railroad as they become known to railfans/historians/libraries and museums. With more than $1M invested in collections and a permanent archives building, I’ll suggest SRHA is one of those groups. (The L&NHS is in the process of moving their collections into the TVRM/SRHA building in Chattanooga now. All three groups believe that kind of participation is the answer for collections for the long term. TVRM has recently acquired a 10,000 sq. ft. building that will become an indoor museum across the street from the archives and adjacent to museum operations at Grand Junction.)


SRHA archives work sessions are the third weekend (Fri and Sat) of every month. Everyone is invited to visit, do research on the Southern, Central or Georgia or help with various projects. (archives@...)



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