First: AC reminder, the usual third weekend of the month SRHA Archives work session is Friday and Saturday. (Several of us will be there in Thursday if anyone wold like to joiun us then.)
Yesterday and Friday was an opportunity to spend some time organizing the Hayne Shop files and looking through the Southern Railway Presidents' files. Even though items appear in the Presidents' files finding aids, until you look through the archives boxes it is difficult to understand how much is in them, and how important, some are.
Two large groups of files I had never spent much time on were the WWI era ARA (American Railway Association, predecessor to the AAR) and USRA files. In addition to providing material for multiple TIES articles, they represent a source of significant academic or historical research. Although I expect most of us think "rolling stock" when he see "USRA", the extent of the Govt's control over the railroads in many operational areas was much more extensive than I realized. The conflicts and demands made by USRA in WWI are clearly the reason the railroads were so opposed to the same thing during WWII and Korea. Forcing the railroads that operated passenger trains between Chicago and St. Louis to reduce and coordinate their services is one example.
Before and during the USRA, the ARA established a committee to work with the War Department on transportation issues. Southern President Fairfax Harrison was the Chairman of that group...obviously the reason so many records were kept in his files.
The attached are four pages from the July 15, 1916 notice of the committee's formation.
PS Several of us will be at the SRHA table at the Collinsville RPM the end of th e month, stop by and say hello.