The ARHS recently received an e-mail from a member who asked where he could donate a few Jersey Central and Lehigh Valley Railroad Annual Reports from the mid-1920’s. The member was downsizing his collection and wanted to be sure the Society could use the material. His concern was if he did not do this now, his heirs, who have no interest in railroading and therefore no appreciation for the research value of the reports, would consider this material as just more items to throw in the dumpster. Of course, we accepted the reports!

Here was a case where an individual was being realistic and thinking ahead at the same time. Unless you have family-members or friends who are very well acquainted with your collection of photographs and memorabilia, it is quite likely all you have accumulated could wind up in the trash as well. Even better than this would be to have family or friends who have your directives in place to know what to do with your lifetime’s work and enjoyment.

And even better yet (it just keeps getting better and better), a collection of railroad photographs and memorabilia is immensely more appreciated and meaningful if you’ve made the effort to organize it. Please consider first, organize your collection, and second, make plans to preserve it. Let’s look at the organization element first.

Railroad historical societies and archivists agree--the most basic priority for rail enthusiasts is to record the subject matter, date and location of photos they have taken. Prints have surfaces on the back where this information can be noted with a light #2 pencil. Negative holders can be written on. And slides have cardboard mounts ready made for recording information. Let me add one more item to record, and that is your name as photographer. The photo resulted from your talents and work. No need to be humble here!

Maybe you don’t record information because it’s either a pain to do the extra organization work or you believe you’ll remember where and when you took your pictures. I can’t deny organization means extra work, but it’s worth the effort for both you and the organizations (like the ARHS) who could someday use your material. However, if you feel you can trust your memory, I’ll throw out a challenge. Go pick out a box of slides you took in the early 1980’s and have not looked at for some time. The subject matter should be easy but try pin-pointing the date and location for each slide. See what I mean?

Robert W. Wise

From the July, 2020 Anthracite Extra - © Anthracite Railroads Historical Society, Inc.

Permission is granted to reproduce this article, as long as the article is intact and contains this copyright notice.

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