Topics

My railroad materials

Jared Harper
 

My wife and I are getting ready to update our wills.  One of the things I have been thinking about is what to do with my railroad materials.  I  have photos, station plats, surveys, clearance charts, etc. mostly dealing with the Alma branch.  Back in 1983, I donated all my Raton Pass materials to the De Golyer Library at SMU in Dallas.  Some other places I am considering are the Kansas State Historical Society in Topeka, the Santa Fe Archives in Temple, TX; and the California RR Museum.  Any other suggestions I should consider?  I want to donate the materials to some place they will be curated and will be easily accessable to researchers.

Jared Harper
Athens, GA

James SANDIFER
 

Temple is the place. “I want them curated and easily accessible.” That describes Temple perfectly. I can’t tell you all the times Craig Ordner (curator) has found things for me, scanned them, and sent them promptly. I have not found such anywhere else.

 

 

J. Stephen Sandifer

 

From: main@RealSTMFC.groups.io [mailto:main@RealSTMFC.groups.io] On Behalf Of Jared Harper
Sent: Friday, August 31, 2018 12:21 PM
To: REALSTMFC@groups.io; Proto-Layouts@groups.io
Subject: [RealSTMFC] My railroad materials

 

My wife and I are getting ready to update our wills.  One of the things I have been thinking about is what to do with my railroad materials.  I  have photos, station plats, surveys, clearance charts, etc. mostly dealing with the Alma branch.  Back in 1983, I donated all my Raton Pass materials to the De Golyer Library at SMU in Dallas.  Some other places I am considering are the Kansas State Historical Society in Topeka, the Santa Fe Archives in Temple, TX; and the California RR Museum.  Any other suggestions I should consider?  I want to donate the materials to some place they will be curated and will be easily accessable to researchers.

 

Jared Harper

Athens, GA

Garth Groff <sarahsan@...>
 

Jared,

This has also been on my mind, particularly after my current health crisis. Consider making a detailed inventory of what you want to donate to each source and keep it with your other important papers. It also wouldn't hurt to put some sort of labels on the pieces so your heirs can tell what goes where.

Yours Aye,


Garth Groff  🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿

On 8/31/18 1:21 PM, Jared Harper wrote:
My wife and I are getting ready to update our wills.  One of the things I have been thinking about is what to do with my railroad materials.  I  have photos, station plats, surveys, clearance charts, etc. mostly dealing with the Alma branch.  Back in 1983, I donated all my Raton Pass materials to the De Golyer Library at SMU in Dallas.  Some other places I am considering are the Kansas State Historical Society in Topeka, the Santa Fe Archives in Temple, TX; and the California RR Museum.  Any other suggestions I should consider?  I want to donate the materials to some place they will be curated and will be easily accessable to researchers.

Jared Harper
Athens, GA

Dave Parker
 

Jared:

I recently spent two days in the archives of the California State RR Museum, and learned quite a bit about their operation and capabilities.  My take is that they are both staff- and space-limited and, by necessity, are rather selective about what they will accept.  Their collection tends to emphasize western railroads, although they will accept other materials if they feel there is sufficiently broad.  You can always inquire, but my guess is that they will say your materials are are too regional in nature.

Dave Parker
Riverside, CA

Gary McMills
 

I would second Steve's suggestion of Temple. It is a major Santa Fe place.

Gary McMills


 

On 2018-08-31 13:10, James SANDIFER wrote:

Temple is the place. "I want them curated and easily accessible." That describes Temple perfectly. I can't tell you all the times Craig Ordner (curator) has found things for me, scanned them, and sent them promptly. I have not found such anywhere else.

 

 

J. Stephen Sandifer

 

From: main@RealSTMFC.groups.io [mailto:main@RealSTMFC.groups.io] On Behalf Of Jared Harper
Sent: Friday, August 31, 2018 12:21 PM
To: REALSTMFC@groups.io; Proto-Layouts@groups.io
Subject: [RealSTMFC] My railroad materials

 

My wife and I are getting ready to update our wills.  One of the things I have been thinking about is what to do with my railroad materials.  I  have photos, station plats, surveys, clearance charts, etc. mostly dealing with the Alma branch.  Back in 1983, I donated all my Raton Pass materials to the De Golyer Library at SMU in Dallas.  Some other places I am considering are the Kansas State Historical Society in Topeka, the Santa Fe Archives in Temple, TX; and the California RR Museum.  Any other suggestions I should consider?  I want to donate the materials to some place they will be curated and will be easily accessable to researchers.

 

Jared Harper

Athens, GA

 

John Barry
 

Jared,

I third Steve's recommendation of Temple. Craig is very responsive and your collection fits their mission of preserving the Santa Fe. I have already sent them several items that fall outside my era.

John Barry
 
ATSF North Bay Lines 
Golden Gates & Fast Freights 
Lovettsville, VA


707-490-9696 


PO Box 44736 
Washington, DC 20026-4736

--------------------------------------------

On Fri, 8/31/18, Gary McMills <santafe@...> wrote:

Subject: Re: [RealSTMFC] My railroad materials
To: main@realstmfc.groups.io
Date: Friday, August 31, 2018, 1:18 PM


I would second Steve's suggestion of Temple. It is a
major Santa Fe place.
Gary McMills


 
On 2018-08-31 13:10, James SANDIFER wrote:


Temple is the place. "I want
them curated and easily accessible." That describes
Temple perfectly. I can't tell you all the times Craig
Ordner (curator) has found things for me, scanned them, and
sent them promptly. I have not found such anywhere else.

 

 

J. Stephen Sandifer
 
From:
main@RealSTMFC.groups.io [mailto:main@RealSTMFC.groups.io]
On Behalf Of Jared Harper
Sent: Friday, August 31, 2018
12:21 PM
To:
REALSTMFC@groups.io; Proto-Layouts@groups.io
Subject: [RealSTMFC] My
railroad materials
 

My wife and I are getting
ready to update our wills.  One of the things I have been
thinking about is what to do with my railroad materials. 
I  have photos, station plats, surveys, clearance charts,
etc. mostly dealing with the Alma branch.  Back in 1983, I
donated all my Raton Pass materials to the De Golyer Library
at SMU in Dallas.  Some other places I am considering are
the Kansas State Historical Society in Topeka, the Santa Fe
Archives in Temple, TX; and the California RR Museum.  Any
other suggestions I should consider?  I want to donate the
materials to some place they will be curated and will be
easily accessable to researchers.

 


Jared Harper


Athens, GA

mark_landgraf
 

Guys

Yes, finding a home for your collections can be difficult. I've had several collections that I have scanned and been asked to find new homes for.

The collections that I have dealt with have all had a northeastern flavor. As David stated, some places are getting full.  What he didn't say is that other places like a previously mentioned College in Texas with large rr holdings are sitting on collections that they don't want to admit that they even own. For example, they have the CB&Q Steam Locos and all of the BN predecessor rr's freight car drawings are in their possession, but they are uncatalogued and therefore, unavailable.

In the last few years, CSX has donated a number of trailers to a predecessor rr society. The  trailers contained a mixture of Family lines rr's stuff.  The society retained the stuff from their rr and then eBayed the rest of it.

I would strongly advise that persons with large collections visit the locations that they would like to have their collections maintained by. Questions about availability, future sustainability of the organization, will the paper be scanned and back-up copies stored off site just in the event of fire or flood. Climate control is important for the preservation of 100 year old paper.  Generally if the rr used rag stock paper, it is still in decent shape.  Non rag stock paper gets rather brittle and needs to be steamed before it can be unrolled. It is better to store all of these drawing in a flat condition rather than rolled.

I have placed several collections with the Western New York RR Historical Society.  They have heated buildings in Buffalo NY at the Discovery Center at 200 Lee Street.  They are open several days a week and have a paid staff. They have plenty of space and don't seemed to be concerned about how far the rr was from Buffalo.  Contact Ed Patton at epatton3@.... They have a second building that in being prepared for future use.  Both the EL and NKP societies store their collections there.

Any organization will want to see a box by box inventory of the collection. A printed copy for each box should be placed into that box. Having these lists in digital format will go a long way towards making the contents of your collection useful to others. While you are preparing this inventory, prepare a list of standard abbreviations that are used. I would recommend fully spelling out most words. For instance, a freight car General Arrangement drawing should fully spelled out rather than using GA or Gen'l Arr abbreviations. When doing word searches, full words work a lot better.

Since this topic is somewhat outside of the scope of this group, I will offer to take comments and questions at my personal email:  mark_landgraf at yohoo dot com

Mark Landgraf
Albany NY


On Friday, August 31, 2018, 3:27:10 PM EDT, Dave Parker via Groups.Io <spottab@...> wrote:


Jared:

I recently spent two days in the archives of the California State RR Museum, and learned quite a bit about their operation and capabilities.  My take is that they are both staff- and space-limited and, by necessity, are rather selective about what they will accept.  Their collection tends to emphasize western railroads, although they will accept other materials if they feel there is sufficiently broad.  You can always inquire, but my guess is that they will say your materials are are too regional in nature.

Dave Parker
Riverside, CA

Virus-free. www.avast.com

Rufus Cone
 

Without meaning to criticize anyone from the previous posts, and certainly not Mark, I strongly urge those of you near facilities with collections to volunteer with the curators of those collections.

Approached in a positive way, many will appreciate your help.

This is a service and a learning experience that can be valuable to you and those sharing your interests.

Mark Landgraf wrote, in part:

Yes, finding a home for your collections can be difficult
--
Rufus Cone
Bozeman, MT

Richard Wilkens
 

I would like to second Mr. Cone's comments about getting involved with your local museum or archives. I'm involved with the Pacific Northwest Railroad Archive in Burien, WA which is focused on the railroad history of the Pacific Northwest, especially the Northern Pacific, Great Northern, Milwaukee Road, and the Spokane, Portland & Seattle Railway. All are welcome and no prior experience is required, only the desire to preserve railroad history.

Richard Wilkens
Archivist, SP&S Railway Historical Society
Vice President, Pacific Northwest Railroad Archive

Denny Anspach
 

I have hesitated responding to this heartfelt and increasing common dilemma not because it is not real, but because the answers contain more variables than Carter has pills. My own bonafides in this matter are that I am the long time volunteer Chairman of Collections at California State Railroad Museum (a lively committee of professional staff and dedicated volunteers), a major part of which includes the library and the archives.

Disposal of my own personal collections are also a very personal and quite relevant household topic. These are my observations, not that of CSRM.

A major continuing issue for CSRM is how to exactly to respond to such posed rich gifts such as Jared’s? The Museum may love to have them, even die for them, but…..do we have the resources -professional personnel, space, materials, and…..money- to process, catalogue, preserve and conserve them for public access and use? Where would such a collection fit within CSRM’s formal and fully vetted Scope of Collections?

I can safely say that most of our donated personal collections of paper over the years are in countless libraries, historical societies (big and small); museums big and small, formal or informal, institutionalized or not; piled on the floor, overflowing on shelving, packed into file cabinets, etc. They are not organized, inventoried, catalogued, or have undergone the most rudimentary archival conservation or preservation. There they still lie, while the generations for which they were intended to serve for posterity have -astoundingly- moved on from any common or cultural knowledge of steam (“Where are the motors?”); fallen flags, e.g. Milwaukee, NYC, Burlington, even…Santa Fe; and most sadly, even the Railroad itself, because railroads and railroading is simply not a part of current culture. Those of us holding down the forts in these venues are being succeeded by so many others whose passion for these is not personal but much more arm’s length. These very facts underlie the the increasing paucity of institutions willing to take our railroad collections, process them, and provide the professional staffing to make them publicly available.

Hard questions to ask as you consider sites for donations (random order):

If the donation is a gift, is the institution actually willing to receive it?

If the donation is a gift, is the institution free to gift, sell, or discard the same donated items?

If the donation is a gift, will the institution commit to process, catalog and make available your materials within a reasonable time?

Will the receiving institution actually have the resources to process the materials (aside from providing floor space)?

Does the receiving institution have institutional longevity, i.e. a future beyond current dedicated, committed, and even profoundly knowledgable volunteers? A Business Plan that gives assurance of strong financial footing into the future? Professional key staffing? Will the institution in fact be around?

Will it give you heartburn if your carefully-collected materials end up on eBay, at the flea market, or……even in a dumpster?

CSRM has truly enviable archival facilities (so described by a visiting accrediting officer from the largest US museum), but at current professional and volunteer staffing and tax-supported budgetary levels, it would take an informally-estimated 5-10 years of work to bring all of our materials into the public arena. This is because for a number of decades (the museum library and archives are now 38 years), the museum was not so very choosy about what to take into its collections, largely because all attention was being deferred to the large artifacts, major catalogued photo collections, and the corporate records of major railroads. The problems were and are made worse by the fact that all donations -paper, or solid- become the property of the sovereign state of California; as a result of which, any disposal of same requires a constitutional Byzantine process that makes an Act of Congress look like a piece of cake.

What can one do with thirty-odd copies of Kip Farington’s MEN OF ERIE? What does one do with a huge box of random unidentified piled-up -hundreds, thousands?- Kodachrome slides of GN wrecks (taken by a GN wreck foreman)? What does one do with two such massive piles of unidentified freight and passenger equipment slides donated by a very-active now departed long time prolific contributor to this and other lists? These duplicative and pragmatically-unusable gifts take up hundreds of feet of archival shelf space that, if emptied, would open up staff time and resources better to receive more useful materials.

As a result of this, CSRM now critically vets all proffered and potential gifts, giving up-front consideration to those gifts that are already catalogued and organized, are within CSRM’s scope of interests, are in archival sleeving, and -if meeting all other criteria…..are also accompanied by a gift of money to underwrite the costs of bringing the materials to public use.

This is a major balancing act, matching CSRM's ardent public duty to collect, preserve, and make accessible its collections, against the realities of what CSRM can actually do within the bounds of reality. It has been a major subject of discussion and concern as recently as our last meeting several weeks ago. We are optimistic that we will gain some relief with better funding and staff additions. As we speak, we are actively vetting two major national collections in the wings that personally I believe should be a slam-dunk, but….my better self knows will be better served for posterity by going through all the hoops.

In my own case, I have been disposing of excess duplicative materials through our local Friends of the Sacramento Library, who sells them at Book Fairs and on eBay. Other museums and libraries will receive materials special to their interests and locales.

I intend to begin my own selective saving of all my own Kodachrome slide materials, sufficient that they will be in a package small enough to be acceptable (no guarantee, no honor in my own house).

This is a difficult but apt subject without a lot of good answers.

Denny


Denny S. Anspach MD
Okoboji, IA

Tim O'Connor
 


For people with genuine, primary archival materials - of whatever kind -
I agree this can be difficult to figure out. I have virtually no materials
of this kind - conductor's books, cyclopedias, a few other genuine railroad
publications is all. I'm confident that none of them are unique, and therefore
I'm happy to instruct my heirs to sell them (Ebay etc) - or keep anything they
like. I figure if someone is willing to pay money to own them, then whatever
protection they receive will be because a new person values them. In the end
I think "continuous custody" is the only long term solution. Even museums and
official archives can be impermanent. (Maybe I'm thinking of the horrific fire
yesterday in Brazil that destroyed literally millions of items collected over
the previous 200 years.)



--
Tim O'Connor
Sterling, Massachusetts

Jared Harper
 

Thanks Denny.

Your long letter gave me something to ponder.  I am considering several possible destinations materials.  The CSRM is not one of them.  At the top of my list are the Santa Fe Rwy. Historical and Modeling Society's archives at Temple, TX, and the Kansas State Historical Society.

Jared Harper

Schuyler Larrabee
 

Tim, I would say that the Conductor’s books are in fact “genuine, primary archival materials.”  They were created by actual railroaders in the pursuit of their work, it doesn’t get much more authentic, on-the-ground recording of “what really happened.:  Granted a single book may contain anomalies, but an entire book will cover the normal run of what was carried in regular normal trains.

 

Schuyler

 

From: main@RealSTMFC.groups.io <main@RealSTMFC.groups.io> On Behalf Of Tim O'Connor
Sent: Tuesday, September 04, 2018 2:04 PM
To: main@RealSTMFC.groups.io
Subject: Re: [RealSTMFC] My railroad materials

 


For people with genuine, primary archival materials - of whatever kind -
I agree this can be difficult to figure out. I have virtually no materials
of this kind - conductor's books, cyclopedias, a few other genuine railroad
publications is all. I'm confident that none of them are unique, and therefore
I'm happy to instruct my heirs to sell them (Ebay etc) - or keep anything they
like. I figure if someone is willing to pay money to own them, then whatever
protection they receive will be because a new person values them. In the end
I think "continuous custody" is the only long term solution. Even museums and
official archives can be impermanent. (Maybe I'm thinking of the horrific fire
yesterday in Brazil that destroyed literally millions of items collected over
the previous 200 years.)


--
Tim O'Connor
Sterling, Massachusetts

James SANDIFER
 

I will agree. In writing my livestock operations book I longed for simple little non descript books like the records of livestock forwarded or records of livestock shipped. You would be amazed at how scarce they are. People thought them useless and threw them away.

 

 

J. Stephen Sandifer

 

From: main@RealSTMFC.groups.io [mailto:main@RealSTMFC.groups.io] On Behalf Of Schuyler Larrabee
Sent: Tuesday, September 4, 2018 10:19 PM
To: main@RealSTMFC.groups.io
Subject: Re: [RealSTMFC] My railroad materials

 

Tim, I would say that the Conductor’s books are in fact “genuine, primary archival materials.”  They were created by actual railroaders in the pursuit of their work, it doesn’t get much more authentic, on-the-ground recording of “what really happened.:  Granted a single book may contain anomalies, but an entire book will cover the normal run of what was carried in regular normal trains.

 

Schuyler

 

From: main@RealSTMFC.groups.io <main@RealSTMFC.groups.io> On Behalf Of Tim O'Connor
Sent: Tuesday, September 04, 2018 2:04 PM
To: main@RealSTMFC.groups.io
Subject: Re: [RealSTMFC] My railroad materials

 


For people with genuine, primary archival materials - of whatever kind -
I agree this can be difficult to figure out. I have virtually no materials
of this kind - conductor's books, cyclopedias, a few other genuine railroad
publications is all. I'm confident that none of them are unique, and therefore
I'm happy to instruct my heirs to sell them (Ebay etc) - or keep anything they
like. I figure if someone is willing to pay money to own them, then whatever
protection they receive will be because a new person values them. In the end
I think "continuous custody" is the only long term solution. Even museums and
official archives can be impermanent. (Maybe I'm thinking of the horrific fire
yesterday in Brazil that destroyed literally millions of items collected over
the previous 200 years.)


--
Tim O'Connor
Sterling, Massachusetts

Tim O'Connor
 


Which is WHY I mentioned them as exceptions.


Tim, I would say that the Conductors books are in fact genuine, primary archival materials.  They were created by actual railroaders in the pursuit of their work, it doesnt get much more authentic, on-the-ground recording of what really happened.:  Granted a single book may contain anomalies, but an entire book will cover the normal run of what was carried in regular normal trains.
 
Schuyler
 
From: main@RealSTMFC.groups.io <main@RealSTMFC.groups.io> On Behalf Of Tim O'Connor
Sent: Tuesday, September 04, 2018 2:04 PM
To: main@RealSTMFC.groups.io
Subject: Re: [RealSTMFC] My railroad materials
 

For people with genuine, primary archival materials - of whatever kind -
I agree this can be difficult to figure out. I have virtually no materials
of this kind - conductor's books, cyclopedias, a few other genuine railroad
publications is all. I'm confident that none of them are unique, and therefore
I'm happy to instruct my heirs to sell them (Ebay etc) - or keep anything they
like. I figure if someone is willing to pay money to own them, then whatever
protection they receive will be because a new person values them. In the end
I think "continuous custody" is the only long term solution. Even museums and
official archives can be impermanent. (Maybe I'm thinking of the horrific fire
yesterday in Brazil that destroyed literally millions of items collected over
the previous 200 years.)


--
Tim O'Connor
Sterling, Massachusetts
--
Tim O'Connor
Sterling, Massachusetts

Jake Schaible
 

I know it's been a few weeks since Jared asked "Any other suggestions I should consider?".  But given the massive processing backlong at CSRM and the issues they have with space, wanted to add another idea to the mix.

For the right material, I would encourage folks to consider the little know "Pacific Southwest Railway Museum" (PSRM, Campo CA) Southwest Railway Library".  Founded on several sizable collections of documents from the SD&A, SP & AT&SF - and recently greatly expanded via a major gift of railroad materials from the San Diego History Center along with a major facilities expansion and grants for climate control, the PSRM archives now has the space and our doors are open for accepting sizable collections of original railroad documents.  

By the way, for those who have not seen our collection and trains, consider your self invited on Nov 16th, when we will be holding a rail fest to celebrate the 100 yr anniversary of the SD&A's own golden spike.  https://www.psrm.org/centennial/