OERM’s archives are a natural adjunct to its collection of rail vehicles, consisting of materials documenting North American railroads, with specific focus on the companies which served the Western United States. Like our railcar collection, the contents of our archives also reflect our focused interest in the railroads of Southern California. The Museum’s Collection Policy defines five “focus companies”; the major railroads and transit companies which served Southern California; the Pacific Electric, Los Angeles Railway, Santa Fe, Southern Pacific and Union Pacific railroads, as well as predecessor and related companies.
In addition to printed materials and photographs, our archives also contain many small “three-dimensional objects” (a.k.a. “railroadiana”). All materials have been collected to support research, collection documentation, and exhibition/interpretation at the Museum. In these roles they will help us to fulfill our mission statement “…to educate the public on the technology, history, and impact of the rail transportation industry in the West….” OERM’s archives are currently housed in several locations around our Museum site and are available for viewing by appointment. Contact the Archives Manager for additional details.
Groundbreaking for our new permanent Archives Building was held on December 10, 2012 and we are now moving into final design and permitting. A dedicated Archives facility has long been recognized as an important step in the Museum’s development. Contact the Archives Manager for additional information about the ongoing capital campaign, including associated naming opportunities.
Projects– In addition to ongoing cataloging activities, some of our current projects include:
- Reproduction “Car Card” Advertisements. With the arrival of our large-format digital scanner we can now scan documents and other materials up to 42 inches wide (and unlimited length). This exciting new capability has facilitated a project to produce a selection of 20 different reproduction “car card” advertisements from the Pacific Electric and Los Angeles Railway. The reproductions will be displayed on board or collection of trolleys and in other exhibits. In addition to scanning items in the Museum’s own collection, numerous collectors have visited with their collections and had us scan them (they also get digital images for their own use in the process). Contact the Archives Manager if you have a car card you would like to donate or have scanned.
- The large ERHA/SC – Ray Younghans Collection is being cataloged. Several thousand historic images have been digitized and over 700 drawings cataloged, and more are being added each month.
- Ward Kimball Photograph Collection– in 2011, the Kimball family augmented the large collection of railroad paper items that had previously been donated with a large collection of historic photographs that Ward Kimball had taken or collected during his lifetime. We are currently organizing and cataloging these photographs, and will draw from this collection to develop a display about the Kimballs in the Grizzly Flats Enginehouse.
- An ongoing program of book reprints– Our latest reprint is “Work of the Railway Carman”, a classic text on railway car repair and working conditions circa 1921, click here for a pdf press release. Other OERM reprints in recent years include the “Pacific Electric Corporate History 1885-1911” reprinted from an original in the John McFadden Collection, and “Railway Car Construction 1892” reprinted from an original in the Ward Kimball Collection. Additional reprint projects are also in the planning stages, and photographs from the Museum’s collection are used each year in the annual Red Cars / Yellow Cars color calendar.
- Updating displays in the Middleton Museum. The entire collection has been inventoried, and display cases are now receiving makeovers. Since 2006, over 100 “O” scale trolley models from the Bill Everett collection have been put on display in the Middleton Museum.
Archives Wish List– a list of the types of materials we are, and are not, seeking: Archives Wish List.