locked Archives Issues....,

George Eichelberger


Your points, and questions are excellent. Let me take a stab at an answer…..

Yes, there is the concept of multiple “processes” to organize, scan, make available for researchers and publish material from the SRHA archives. The issue is the resources (people and hardware) to do that work.

It is hard to describe the extent of the SRHA archives much less to estimate how much work needs to be done. I cannot make a complete list but we did weigh everything for the move to Chattanooga…the total was 30 Tons not including the Spacesaver shelving. The good news is that we already have many items scanned at archival resolution (3,261 diesel drawings, 5,889 diesel photo negatives, 3,604 SR steam photos, etc.) Everything is stored on redundant (and some remote) hard drives. That still leaves many thousands of photos, drawings and documents to do.

At this point, we give priority to scan items needed for TIES, specific research projects and model manufacturers’ requests for information. We have not “OCRd” many items yet as just getting scans done takes a lot of time. (We can get assistance from folks away from Chattanooga with things like OCR once scans can be sent.)

Re your items:
1. The new building is about as fireproof as possible. We want as much “electrical” disconnected as possible when no one is there.
2. There are many documents that are more than 100 years old. Some are very difficult to scan and many cannot use a document feeder because of their age and condition.
3. Any task that can be done remotely is good.

We have several important items that are not resolved. Access and use of the material is a biggie. Obviously, we want the collection to be used (I estimate people will care about historical information on the Southern for maybe the next twenty years?) but the cost to acquire and maintain the collection needs to be considered. For example, in the past ten years or so individual SRHA members and NS have paid at least $100,000 to purchase various private collections. How do we reconcile/afford acquiring and maintaining the archives if we make everything freely available? No one wants to see the ridiculous prices that appear so common today but we must find a balance between the two. (Investment in the new building exceeds $1M.)

IMHO, the Internet is making this question more difficult. People expect to find everything on the ’net at no cost. I sit in on many presentations where the only items shown are pulled from an Internet browser. No actual research beyond Google.

At the Collinsville RPM, people from at least a dozen RR historical groups described the issues they thought most important. There was nearly a 100% correlation between what everyone was thinking about…we didn’t have many answers but all recognized how important the issues are.

Every historical groups’ archive or library needs input and help, cash and labor, to figure this stuff out.

I’d love to hear any comments, on or off list as anyone prefers.


On Dec 21, 2018, at 12:13 PM, David Friedlander <davidjfriedlander@...> wrote:


Since I don't actually know the answer...is there a process in place to just go ahead and do a blanket digital scan of everything in the Archives into a computer?  Tied to that, are scans being ran through OCR software to allow the scans's individual words to be searchable?  This would probably help the research phase of things big time.

I ask as scanning would open the door for a few things:
1. Redundancy of the Archives' Contents in case of fire, theft, lawsuit, etc.
2. Preservation of any documents that contain paper that has extremely aged, damaged, etc. and its lifespan is limited.
3. Opens up the ability for many more folks to organize, catalog, research, and write articles for the SRHA, etc. by removing the geographic requirement of needing to live near or visit Chattanooga.
4. As previously mentioned, if OCR'ed, this would make far easier to search key words in the text of all of the documents.

Just a question and a thought.

David Friedlander

On Fri, Dec 21, 2018 at 9:36 AM George Eichelberger <geichelberger@...> wrote:

I have not seen the book yet but knowing some of the most knowledgable people put it together, I am certain it is excellent.

I have had the same problem with Southern, or Southeastern railroad books for years. Authors have always been “too busy” or “facing a deadline” to spend some serious research time in the SRHA archives. For example, when the Midwest-Florida books were in production, I explained that there was a considerable amount of material on the IC-CG passenger trains in the collection, including things like the equipment utilization contract between the two railroads, operating data and correspondence when the Central was trying (somewhat desperately) to add one of their cars to the IC train’s consist for additional mileage fees. None of the CG material made it into the book.

Among other projects, we are going through the finding aids for the SR Presidents’ files to see if they need additional finding aids so they can be put on-line for keyword searches. With something like 10,000 different files already identified, we can assume there are not many SR topics that are not covered. Add those files to the 1,000+ contract books, Valuation papers, etc. and the data available is multiplied.

What is needed are people interested in SR history that are willing to help organize, catalog, research and write articles that will make use of the resources in the new archives building. (The many tens of thousands of photos and SR/CG drawings have as much potential.)

The 2019 SRHA Archives work session dates are on www.srha.net now. We are not limited to those dates but we simply need to know when anyone wants to visit the archives to try to make arrangements (archives@...).

The SRHA 2019 convention will be the same dates as the NMRA SER meet in Chattanooga. We plan to officially open the archives that weekend. Between the NMRA and SRHA conventions, the archives and of course TVRM, what better reason to get to Chattanooga could there be?


On Dec 20, 2018, at 10:30 PM, D. Scott Chatfield <blindog@...> wrote:

My buddy Boras Rosser got his a couple days ago and while he wishes there was more coverage of the secondary lines, especially here in Georgia, he's happy with it.  I'm hoping Santa leaves one under the tree.

Scott Chatfield

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