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Research Insitutions Holding PRR Records

This page includes links to and information about other custodians of PRR (Pennsylvania Railroad Company) records.

The largest group of surviving PRR records was distributed during the Penn Central Records Project of 1984-1986, a federally funded effort involving eight major repositories. A team of archivists methodically examined contents of the main PRR records storage warehouse on Merion Avenue in West Philadelphia, and the most historically significant files were divided among the participants. More than 400,000 linear feet of records were examined, of which between 8,000 and 10,000 were distributed. About 80 percent of these records were generated by PRR. A final sweep was conducted in the last weeks of Conrail occupancy in 1992, and a fire in 1995 destroyed the main buildings there. In addition, the project participants examined and obtained former PRR, New York Central, and New Haven records from a separate facility in Philadelphia maintained by the Penn Central Corp. Records were distributed to the following project participants.

Pennsylvania State Archives

  • Presidential Files (1899-1968)
  • Files of the secretary and treasurer
  • All minutes of PRR and accompanying board files and papers (1847-1960)
  • Minutes and board files of PRR predecessor and subsidiary companies in eastern and central Pennsylvania, including Northern Central, Cumberland Valley, Philadelphia & Erie, Schuylkill & Juniata, Pennsylvania Canal Co., real estate companies, Empire Transportation Company and Anchor Line
  • Records of of Special Services Department
  • Records of Legal Department concerning general matters and ICC rate applications
  • Association of Freight Traffic Officers records
  • Duplicates of some records of Association of Transport Officers
  • Public timetable (1928-1964)
  • Records of general manager - Eastern Region (fragmentary)
  • Microfilm (digitized) masters of minutes and board files (1942)
  • Account Books (1942, 1951)
  • Microfilm (digitized) of track and property atlases (incomplete)
  • Microfilm (digitized) of equipment drawings (incomplete)
  • Microfilm (digitized) of personnel service record cards for some Eastern Region employees (ca. 1950)
  • Microfilm (digitized) master of J. Elfreth Watkins history
  • Printed annual reports
  • Annual reports to ICC
  • Equipment registers (mostly cars - locomotive registers had been systematically removed)
  • Earlier, the State Archives also received portions of the PRR library and historical collection purchased at the Penn Central Auction in 1972
    • Equipment working drawings
    • Some engineering maps
    • A large group of Voluntary Relief Fund service record cards
    • selection of publicity photos
    • Pennsylvania Board of Canal Commissioners
    • Operators of state railroad and canal system purchased by PRR in 1857
    • South Pennsylvania Railroad and Pennsylvania Turnpike records
    • Records of Lehigh Valley Railroad (once controlled by PRR)

Hagley Museum and Library (website)

  • Files of Samuel Rea as vice president (1900-1912)
  • Financial Department (1900-1968)
  • V.P. operations (1920s-60s, fragmentary)
  • Chief of passenger transportation
  • Chief of freight transportation
  • General manager - Western Region (including locality files)
  • Motive Power Department (1905-1948)
  • Test department (1905-1937)
  • Engineering department (1883-1968)
  • Personnel department
  • Safety department
  • Files on intermodal (PRR's "TrucTrain" or trailer-on-flat-car) service (1954-68)
  • Legal department files on labor and technology
  • Complete set of track charts and employee timetables (1937)
  • Samples of public timetables (1928-64)
  • Duplicate set of PRR minutes (1847-60)
  • Duplicate microfilm set of board files (1857-1951)
  • Minutes, board papers and account books of predecessor and subsidiary companies south of Philadelphia and West of Pittsburgh, truck and bus companies, including:
    • Philadelphia
    • Baltimore & Washington
    • Washington Terminal Co.
    • Pennsylvania Co.
    • Pittsburgh
    • Fort Wayne & Chicago
    • Pittsburgh
    • Cincinnati
    • Chicago & St. Louis
    • Vandalia Lines
  • Records of Lines West organization (1890s-1920), particularly concerning later Western Region territory
  • Copy microfilms of minutes and board papers of major subsidiaries, including Camden & Amboy, North Central, etc.
  • Hagley later received from Penn Central Corp. the Mechanical and Test Department negatives that had originally been placed at the Altoona Area Public Library. It also received from Conrail a collection of photos and films from its public relations files.
  • In addition, Hagley has in its general collections most of the published works dealing with the PRR, prospectuses and annual reports from most companies in the PRR system and copies of The Mutual Magazine and The Pennsy.
  • Hagley also holds PRR-related material:
    • Reading Co. records, including P-RSL, and Central Railroad of New Jersey, including New York & Long Branch
    • W.W. Atterbury personal papers
    • Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority records
    • William Hasell Wilson diary (microfilm)
    • John B. Jervis papers (PFtW&C)(microfilm)
    • Railroad annual reports from U.S. and other countries, many from PRR library

New York Public Library (website)

  • Minutes and board papers of Long Island Railroad and Predecessors (1834-1960)
  • PRR Legal Department files relating to Long Island Railroad
  • A small number of Superintendent of Motive Power files relating to LIRR
  • Minutes and board files of Pennsylvania Tunnel & Terminal and predecessors
  • Samples of PRR timetables
  • Files relating to Hotel Pennsylvania
  • Engineering and architectural drawings of Pennsylvania Station from Amtrak

New Jersey State Archives (website)

  • Minutes and board papers of predecessor and subsidiary lines in New Jersey including:
    • Camden & Amboy
    • Delaware & Raritan Canal
    • New Jersey Railroad
    • Philadelphia & Trenton
    • West Jersey & Seashore (but not of Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Lines and its predecessors on the Reading side, which were kept by the Reading Co. and are at Hagley)
  • Annual reports
  • About 100 linear feet of files of General Superintendent of New Jersey Grand Division and General Manager of New York Zone, covering facilities in New Jersey and Penn Station, New York
  • Legal department files concerning New Jersey (including tax dispute) and commuter services and rates
    • This material has not been processed for lack of staff and funds and is not open for research

Temple University Urban Archives (website)

  • Records of PRR Voluntary Relief Department, including 900 linear feet of settlement files with data on employees born as early as the 1840s
  • Records of Pension Department
  • Minutes and board papers of Connecting Railway and certain branches within Philadelphia
  • Minutes of American Steamship Co. of Philadelphia and certain unbuilt trolley lines in Philadelphia suburbs
  • Certain Legal Department files relating to matters in Philadelphia including commuter service and fares and Penn Center
  • Sample of timetables
  • Annual reports
  • Temple also received independently records of the PRR Eastern Region Group, an association of former railroad officials and employees

Penn State University (website)

  • Minutes and board papers of predecessor and subsidiary companies in northwestern and southwestern Pennsylvania, including Western New York & Pennsylvania, Monongahela Railway
  • Records of Central Region, including General Manager and Superintendent of Labor & Wage Bureau, including locality files for area between Altoona and Columbus/Crestline
  • Records of division superintendents within Central Region
  • Samples of timetables, annual reports

University of Michigan (website)

  • Mostly NYC records
  • PRR records include minutes and board papers of Grand Rapids & Indiana and predecessors, including some correspondence and locality files
  • Legal Department files relating to Michigan

Ohio Historical Society (website)

  • Mostly NYC records, including from Big Four and Toledo & Ohio Central
  • Minutes and board papers of Union Depot of Columbus and Indianapolis Union Railway, both affiliated with PRR

Cincinnati Historical Society Library (website)

  • Records of Little Miami Railroad
    • Microfilm minutes available at Hagley

Other Holdings of PRR Records

Altoona Railroaders Memorial Museum (website)

  • The museum acquired Middle Division Mechanical Department and Real Estate records from the late 1870s to the mid-1950s, which had been stored in the former PRR Master Mechanics Building. This includes 800 linear feet of documents and 2,000 rolled prints relating to plans for structures, equipment, and right-of-way. No public access exists yet, although limited pieces are available.
  • A general (but not detailed) catalog of the items exists.
  • The museum has a selected group of books and technical information that had come from the PRR mechanics' library in Altoona.

Pennsylvania Railroad Technical & Historical Society (website)

  • The society maintains an archive at the former PRR station in Lewistown, PA.
  • In addition to materials received from members, the society has a large body of records taken from the Pittsburgh station. These include:
    • Microfilm of Mechanical Engineering Department drawings for locomotives and freight cars (late 19th century to 1950)
    • Correspondence files 1940-1968 regarding locomotives and freight cars
    • PRR valuation maps
    • Other maps showing proposed line changes
    • Divisional maps
    • Lines West plans
    • Some employees timetables
    • Complete set of The Keystone, PRRT&HS quarterly magazine, 1968-present
    • Scattered copies of The Pennsy magazine and Railway Age
    • Official Lines West glass-plate photographic negatives and the negative collection of T. Martin Flattley Jr. (1915-1988)

Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania ( website)

  • The museum is built around the official PRR historical collection of locomotives and freight and passenger cars formerly stored at Northumberland, PA. It also has one of the largest collections of PRR publications, including a complete set of annual reports
  • Memorabilia and ephemera such as timetables and dining-car menus
  • Some archival records
  • Museum houses 16 boxes (eight linear feet) of photographic prints of PRR subject, and boxes occupying 12 linear feet with more than 2,500 negatives of PRR subjects

American Philosophical Society Library (website)

  • Annotated index to A.J. Cassatt's personal correspondence, 3 vols., 1894-1903

Dauphin County Historical Society (website)

  • Small collection of PRR material
  • Papers of Simon Cameron

Duke University Library (website)

  • J. Walter Thompson archive (advertising agency for PRR in 1920s)

Historical Society of Pennsylvania (website)

  • William A. Patton scrapbooks (pres. New York, Philadelphia & Norfolk), 1899-1918
  • John A Wilson diaries (chief engr. PRR), 1859-95
  • William Hasell Wilson papers (chief engineer, PRR), 1855-98, including memoirs
  • Joseph T. Richards (PRR civil engr.), 3 vols., including one on the Johnstown Flood
  • Meredith family papers (some references to PRR)
  • J.B. Hutchinson (PRR vice president) collection of passes
  • Uriah Hunt Painter papers, 1855-1936
  • Some letterbooks on NYP&N
  • Manuscript of Herman Haupt Chapman's biography of Herman Haupt
  • Records of PRR Women's Division for War Relief, 1916-1919
  • George B. Roberts diaries and letterbooks
    • Mostly Pencoyd Farm but some PRR letters and scrapbooks
  • Peale-Sellers family papers, 1686-1963, includes some A.J. Cassatt letters
  • Good collection of 19th century PRR publications

Princeton University Library (website)

  • Ivy Lee papers (public relations consultant to PRR, 1906-34)

Rockefeller Archives Center (website)

  • John D. Rockefeller, Sr., papers, 1879-1931, includes Cassatt, PRR references

Rutgers University Libraries, Special Collections (website)

  • James Neilson Papers, important source for early Camden & Amboy and Delaware & Raritan Canal

Smithsonian Institution Archives (website)

  • J. Elfreth Watkins papers, including his histories of PRR and Camden & Amboy
  • Division of Engineering (curatorial collection) includes original drawings for PRR buildings and structures, mostly Lines West
  • Charles B. Chaney photo collection includes heavy coverage of PRR prior to 1940
  • Pullman company negatives (wooden cars)

Stevens Institute of Technology (website)

  • Stevens family papers (Camden & Amboy)

Winterthur Library (website)

  • William B. Reaney drawings for Canton grain elevator, 1875-77

Yale University Library, Special Collections (website)

  • Herman Haupt papers, 1800-1984

Other Railroads and Companies

If your interest is in records of other railroads and companies besides the PRR, the following reference publication may be of assistance to you:

Taber, Thomas T. III. Guide to Railroad Historical Resources: United States and Canada. Muncy, Pa.: Thomas T. Taber III, 1993.