locked Archives Issues....,


George Eichelberger
 

David:

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.

Ike




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

Ike,

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
NY, NY

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

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?

Ike

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





David Friedlander
 

Ike,

Thanks for the response.  Merry Christmas to you and the list. TBS has already started their annual 24-hour run of A Christmas Story.

My replies are embedded within and start with DF and are in red.  I definitely don't have all of the answers.

David Friedlander


On Fri, Dec 21, 2018 at 4:18 PM George Eichelberger <geichelberger@...> wrote:
David:

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.

 
DF: That tonnage is massive. I can't imagine what you scanned so far even equals a ton, but that is awesome to hear.

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.)
 
DF: That prioritization makes sense, as long as you know everything you generally have scattered about in the 30 tons.  I'll help you with the OCR on what you sent earlier today.


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.

DF: Can't argue with any of those points.

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.)

DF: This is a more complex and interesting discussion.  All of this effort just for roughly twenty years of usage?  Now the prioritization for TIES, modeling, etc makes more sense.  Perhaps just bulk scan as much as you can and slide stuff out randomly with a naming convention to others to rename files and OCR for you.

DF: Cost wise...At this point, what else is there to acquire? What is the prioritization for acquisition vs. maintain? What happens to a private photo collection if no one is willing to pay for it?  Does it just disappear or does it eventually get donated or purchased at a lower cost? Can the owner get a tax write off by donating it? Whats the cost-benefit analysis for the members? Maintaining what the archive may arguably have a greater return at this point in time and seems like a higher priority given the $1M investment into a building. I never mentioned make anything freely available. Perhaps put together more equipment diagrams books or one-off's for particular cars, locomotives etc.  Not sure if a modeling e-zine like others do would be worth the effort to perhaps have an additional revenue source to help the archives.  Would take considerable effort to put together with volunteer effort for an unknown ability to bring in revenue. I would imagine the best bet to get a considerable sum towards the Archives is to pursue NS for some sort of yearly tax write-off on their part. Perhaps that sort of relationship already exists.

DF: At some point down the line...when the current leadership/membership/interested parties no longer have the resources to keep this effort going (that 20-year mark), does it make sense to eventually approach a third party, such as the national archives in DC to outsource the maintenance of the materials? Is the material something that they would take? How quickly do they go through collections and finish "archiving" them? Do they make material available to all?

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.

DF: That's kind of where society has gone, for better or worse. I've been out of college for about 8 years.  I was still taught to use a library in undergrad and grad school, but I can't speak for the generation that came after me and/or are still in school.  I remember when I was taught in school that citing Wikipedia and certain other websites was not acceptable, but it appears to be reasonably acceptable today.  I bet most kids today are used to things being available on the internet. Back to the library (like an "general" archive) example...I personally haven't stepped foot in a library since school, so I cannot say from first hand experience how they fit into today's society. The only books I read these days are for model railroading or my career(very few since most info is available online...freely) and nothing else and I don't need a Library for internet.

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.

DF: Yea, I'm sure the SRHA is not the only group with this problem.  I don't necessarily think consolidation would help either...financially might help keep things going, but then there will be the politics and fighting over who's material is more important to further organize, preserve, etc. For the eternal preservation of all societies material...I have no idea how fruitful approaching a third party like the National Archives (about a railroading wing of material) would speed up any archival process, or restrict access to material for any such society.

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

Ike




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

Ike,

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
NY, NY

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

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?

Ike

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





Kyle Shannon
 

Hello Ike and all,

I would recommend looking at the way the NYCSHS has offered their collections up as a way for the archive to hopefully pay for itself and also be a bit more autonomous on requests for drawings.

In a nutshell, they scanned many of their drawings and sell collections of drawings for each class of steam locomotives, name trains, car types, etc. They sell these drawings to modelers and offer a licensing rate for commercial use.

Several other historical societies have similar offerings but none as extensive that I have seen online as what the NYCSHS has. I know this is a large undertaking but could be a way to better justify the digitization of some of these resources and offer a way to offer them to the public. I don’t know exactly the extensiveness of the SRHA archives but I feel like there’s likely enough material to do a similar set up. There’s obviously some interest in the material so it could work.


Kyle


On Tuesday, December 25, 2018, 10:00:11 AM EST, David Friedlander <davidjfriedlander@...> wrote:


Ike,

Thanks for the response.  Merry Christmas to you and the list. TBS has already started their annual 24-hour run of A Christmas Story.

My replies are embedded within and start with DF and are in red.  I definitely don't have all of the answers.

David Friedlander


On Fri, Dec 21, 2018 at 4:18 PM George Eichelberger <geichelberger@...> wrote:
David:

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.

 
DF: That tonnage is massive. I can't imagine what you scanned so far even equals a ton, but that is awesome to hear.

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.)
 
DF: That prioritization makes sense, as long as you know everything you generally have scattered about in the 30 tons.  I'll help you with the OCR on what you sent earlier today.


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.

DF: Can't argue with any of those points.

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.)

DF: This is a more complex and interesting discussion.  All of this effort just for roughly twenty years of usage?  Now the prioritization for TIES, modeling, etc makes more sense.  Perhaps just bulk scan as much as you can and slide stuff out randomly with a naming convention to others to rename files and OCR for you.

DF: Cost wise...At this point, what else is there to acquire? What is the prioritization for acquisition vs. maintain? What happens to a private photo collection if no one is willing to pay for it?  Does it just disappear or does it eventually get donated or purchased at a lower cost? Can the owner get a tax write off by donating it? Whats the cost-benefit analysis for the members? Maintaining what the archive may arguably have a greater return at this point in time and seems like a higher priority given the $1M investment into a building. I never mentioned make anything freely available. Perhaps put together more equipment diagrams books or one-off's for particular cars, locomotives etc.  Not sure if a modeling e-zine like others do would be worth the effort to perhaps have an additional revenue source to help the archives.  Would take considerable effort to put together with volunteer effort for an unknown ability to bring in revenue. I would imagine the best bet to get a considerable sum towards the Archives is to pursue NS for some sort of yearly tax write-off on their part. Perhaps that sort of relationship already exists.

DF: At some point down the line...when the current leadership/membership/interested parties no longer have the resources to keep this effort going (that 20-year mark), does it make sense to eventually approach a third party, such as the national archives in DC to outsource the maintenance of the materials? Is the material something that they would take? How quickly do they go through collections and finish "archiving" them? Do they make material available to all?

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.

DF: That's kind of where society has gone, for better or worse. I've been out of college for about 8 years.  I was still taught to use a library in undergrad and grad school, but I can't speak for the generation that came after me and/or are still in school.  I remember when I was taught in school that citing Wikipedia and certain other websites was not acceptable, but it appears to be reasonably acceptable today.  I bet most kids today are used to things being available on the internet. Back to the library (like an "general" archive) example...I personally haven't stepped foot in a library since school, so I cannot say from first hand experience how they fit into today's society. The only books I read these days are for model railroading or my career(very few since most info is available online...freely) and nothing else and I don't need a Library for internet.

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.

DF: Yea, I'm sure the SRHA is not the only group with this problem.  I don't necessarily think consolidation would help either...financially might help keep things going, but then there will be the politics and fighting over who's material is more important to further organize, preserve, etc. For the eternal preservation of all societies material...I have no idea how fruitful approaching a third party like the National Archives (about a railroading wing of material) would speed up any archival process, or restrict access to material for any such society.

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

Ike




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

Ike,

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
NY, NY

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

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?

Ike

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





A&Y Dave in MD
 

I think all the questions about preservation, cost, and use are intertwined.  If you have materials out there that people can use, you create a following and a group dedicated to the railway's history that goes beyond the people who were alive to see the railway run.

Find some innovative ways to get kids, young adults, or even older adults interested by appealing to their natural interests (collecting, building, gaming, crowd source funding, etc) and channel that interest through the SRHA and its collections. You don't need railroad history buffs to keep the SRHA afloat.  You just need to have people who are interested enough to help, and in so doing, contribute to the preservation.  What about getting someone to take those drawings and create 3-D vector graphic images of Southern locomotives and equipment?   Find some young 3-D artist and give them access to do things you never considered.  Perhaps they'll create something that lots of people from a new generation find attractive and thus willing to support. What about a video show produced every quarter about something from the archive?  Find some young, energetic and interesting host to generate views and interest.  What about trivia games?  Find something that LOTS of people like and is tied to the SRHA.  Make them like the SRHA because of that thing.

Think about the 1401 as an example.  There are a LOT of railroads that do not have a steam locomotive preserved, much less one in the national museum system. My grandfather gave me a green and gold 4-6-2 ho scale model when I was about 12 years old, then took me to see the 1401 in the Smithsonian.  That ONE locomotive type got me started with an interest in the Southern despite never having lived near or seen the Southern operate as a real railroad.  I've been a member of the SRHS and then SRHA because of that green and gold Pacific in full and scale size. So exposure to one locomotive in full and scale sizes was the key to get me to support an historical society.  What other human activities could be re-directed to support the SRHA through a single item?  Has the SRHA asked the Smithsonian if they would be willing to have something (like a handout or flyer) about the SRHA located at the 1401 display?  Why not?

I think that the key right now is getting some interesting materials out there that capture the imaginations (and eventually the wallets or checkbooks) of a new generation--but not necessarily a generation who see the same value in the preservation of an historic collection that existing SRHA members do.  Link their passion to the SRHA and the collection, so that supporting the SRHA is supporting their passion.   I'm not sure what kind of interests you can capture.  It could be making the TVRM a vacation destination and having real historical preservation be a side benefit.  It could be getting something out there digitally to attract kids who go on to make a pile of money and contribute to the organization that made their dreams come true.  It could be an innovative interactive Southern Railway theme for 3D goggles that interests a whole new generation.

If there are materials out there for kids with the inclination, then the interest will not wane as much as Ike fears.  But if the materials are hidden away waiting for the day when someone interested in the same things the original members are interested in can donate money,  your bet is placed on a smaller and smaller pool of candidates. Eventually, the capital to preserve is gone and the collection goes to the bin heap like so much of history.  

I think the SRHA has to capture the interest of the next generation or even the materials that are preserved now will be in danger.  People predicted the decline of the model train hobby, but I have seen more and more kids get interested and more adults get involved deeper than just a train around the Christmas tree.  Modular layouts, sophistical electronics, custom graffiti as weathering,  a focus on operations,  scenery as art, the use of 3-D printing, laser cut kits, have each contributed to the sustainability of the hobby. No one thing did it; lots of small things contributed. The same might be true of historic preservation.

Dave

In just brainstorming, I thought of a number of ideas that may or may not have any merit.  Right now, the SRHA needs ideas.  Let the board sort through the ideas and see which are feasible.

brainstorm 1) What makes the photo collections worth preserving? Is it the photos themselves?  Or the information they contain?   Perhaps the photo collections should be sold off!  What if you scanned every photo in the collection, kept a copy for the archive, but sold the original for $5-$10 each?  Then the SRHA still has a copy of the information  for research purposes, but has a regular source of revenue.   Maybe you sell them in limited sets of 10 with themes (water tanks, stations, motor cars, workers) to attract the collector types?  If the SRHA keeps a copy and sells the original, then the SRHA doesn't have to spend any money or effort worrying and enforcing copyright, but still has the information that is the most important aspect of a photo.  And the modelers--who want the info, but could care less about collecting photos, would have a steady stream of information flowing out to them. You could satisfy the collectors, the modelers, reduce the maintenance or enforcement needs, and have a potential income stream.

brainstorm 2) What if we have 1,000 photos of the Southern's locomotives, structures, and equipment preserved in a vault, but no one alive can identify or name the contents of the photos?   What if we have only 250 of those photos but they are fully documented because they were shared and knowledgeable people identified the time, place, and contents of the photo?   Which is more important?  Perhaps you scan a photo or set number of photos each month and place them somewhere temporarily for members and the public to identify the contents (i.e., location, time, place, subjects) in a way that could be collected and associated with the image.  Over time, that information could be verified, but at least it will be collected before too many people are gone.  If this became a popular thing (maybe have MRH or Kalmbach or a prototype video production company promote the info search to gain followers and get a broader audience).

brainstorm 3: Priority setting) What is worth preserving?  And what should be preserved?   Should all Southern Railway depots be preserved?  Probably not worth it.  But should one of each major type be preserved?  That would be nice.   If a depot is preserved as a privately owned family dwelling, is that the same as a publicly accessible building that anyone can measure?  Is it enough if a small amount of the paint and wood is preserved, if drawings and photos of the depot exist?    Is it enough to know the shop-based varieties of steam locomotives exists, with lists of the variations documented by photographs?  Or must one example of a locomotive from each shop be saved?   We cannot save it all, so what is important to save and how best should it be saved?   Find out the priorities of existing SRHA members and then see if other priorities could attract new members. Big organizations are big because the cater to one need that is widespread or because they can cater to many different needs.  Perhaps having all Southern Railway materials possible under one roof in one archive only serves a small population's needs, but with small tweaks to the mission and methods, the SRHA could serve a much larger population's needs?  Would those tweaks be worthwhile?



I think the SRHA should be debating these kinds of questions and figuring out priorities and testing every possibility to see if one works.  It could be the small number of individuals who happen to have the time and willingness to meet and be SRHA board members or to be archive contributors, do not have the answers.  Those who are able and willing to serve may care the most and have the most invested, but the qualities that led them to serve might be those that make it hard for them to consider alternatives that might work? Would they really care if the idea to preserve all the materials came from somewhere else, so long as the most material was preserved?



Monday, December 24, 2018, 10:49:50 PM, you wrote:


Ike,

Thanks for the response.  Merry Christmas to you and the list. TBS has already started their annual 24-hour run of A Christmas Story.

My replies are embedded within and start with DF and are in red.  I definitely don't have all of the answers.

David Friedlander


On Fri, Dec 21, 2018 at 4:18 PM George Eichelberger <geichelberger@...> wrote:

David:

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.
 
DF: That tonnage is massive. I can't imagine what you scanned so far even equals a ton, but that is awesome to hear.


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.)
 
DF: That prioritization makes sense, as long as you know everything you generally have scattered about in the 30 tons.  I'll help you with the OCR on what you sent earlier today.




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.
DF: Can't argue with any of those points.


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.)
DF: This is a more complex and interesting discussion.  All of this effort just for roughly twenty years of usage?  Now the prioritization for TIES, modeling, etc makes more sense.  Perhaps just bulk scan as much as you can and slide stuff out randomly with a naming convention to others to rename files and OCR for you.

DF: Cost wise...At this point, what else is there to acquire? What is the prioritization for acquisition vs. maintain? What happens to a private photo collection if no one is willing to pay for it?  Does it just disappear or does it eventually get donated or purchased at a lower cost? Can the owner get a tax write off by donating it? Whats the cost-benefit analysis for the members? Maintaining what the archive may arguably have a greater return at this point in time and seems like a higher priority given the $1M investment into a building. I never mentioned make anything freely available. Perhaps put together more equipment diagrams books or one-off's for particular cars, locomotives etc.  Not sure if a modeling e-zine like others do would be worth the effort to perhaps have an additional revenue source to help the archives.  Would take considerable effort to put together with volunteer effort for an unknown ability to bring in revenue. I would imagine the best bet to get a considerable sum towards the Archives is to pursue NS for some sort of yearly tax write-off on their part. Perhaps that sort of relationship already exists.

DF: At some point down the line...when the current leadership/membership/interested parties no longer have the resources to keep this effort going (that 20-year mark), does it make sense to eventually approach a third party, such as the national archives in DC to outsource the maintenance of the materials? Is the material something that they would take? How quickly do they go through collections and finish "archiving" them? Do they make material available to all?


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.
DF: That's kind of where society has gone, for better or worse. I've been out of college for about 8 years.  I was still taught to use a library in undergrad and grad school, but I can't speak for the generation that came after me and/or are still in school.  I remember when I was taught in school that citing Wikipedia and certain other websites was not acceptable, but it appears to be reasonably acceptable today.  I bet most kids today are used to things being available on the internet. Back to the library (like an "general" archive) example...I personally haven't stepped foot in a library since school, so I cannot say from first hand experience how they fit into today's society. The only books I read these days are for model railroading or my career(very few since most info is available online...freely) and nothing else and I don't need a Library for internet.


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.
DF: Yea, I'm sure the SRHA is not the only group with this problem.  I don't necessarily think consolidation would help either...financially might help keep things going, but then there will be the politics and fighting over who's material is more important to further organize, preserve, etc. For the eternal preservation of all societies material...I have no idea how fruitful approaching a third party like the National Archives (about a railroading wing of material) would speed up any archival process, or restrict access to material for any such society.


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

Ike




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

Ike,

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
NY, NY

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

Scott:

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?

Ike

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




--
David Bott

Sent from David Bott's desktop PC


Carl Ardrey
 

Our partnership with TVRM has allowed us to broaden our exposure to many groups of all ages.  Where else can you see 5 operable, 2 steam, Southern Railway locomotives plus other Southern equipment, but at TVRM.  We've had many people come by the archives while participating in activities at TVRM.  It's all been very positive.
CEA