• Permanent Archive For LIRR Historical photos, slides, negatives, and ephemera?

  • Discussion of the past and present operations of the Long Island Rail Road.
Discussion of the past and present operations of the Long Island Rail Road.

Moderator: Liquidcamphor

  by RGlueck
Is there a place, an established location, where old timer railfans like myself, can mail or donate their collections? I recently passed some historic material onto an established website so everyone will have access to it. Now I am wondering about a climate controlled location where my negatives and slides will go when my ashes are spread. Remember, each click of the shutter was a never to be repeated capture of time. Kind of critical stuff for historians and researchers, even if it was run-of-the-mill stuff in the 50's and 60's.

Other than slides and negatives, I would include press releases, internal documents, advertising, fliers, and possibly even hardware.

If RMLI or OBRM haven't made plans for a permanent archive,perhaps that should be put into a grant application? I want to see this stuff saved forever.
  by 4behind2
Unfortunatly, this isn't a priority for rail preservation people here. This is sad as many collections by well meaning people were "kicked to the curb" after their deaths over a number decades as nothing was left in their wills to stipulate saving.

SUNY Stony Brook has the Emery collection, but they have been reluctant to take more due to staff turnover. And catalouging material takes $$$ and if you believe they will take your collection without a "donation" for upkeep, good luck. Even then, making overtures to the staff at SUNY have been underwhelming.

LIST Sunrise Trail? No facilities for any donation. Are there grants out there to work with universities? Yes but that takes cultivation and building relationships...................................
  by eolesen
Good luck. It takes time, dedication and money to make that happen.

It's taken 50 years for the CNWHS to find a permanent home. They've been shuttled from basements to garages to storage units since 1973. Next year, a permanent building on the IRM campus will open.

Sent from my SM-G981U using Tapatalk

  by Cannon Ball
I've sent a few LIRR paper records to RMLI (railcar equipment diagrams purchased from LIRR in the 1960s; and employee log books from a deceased engineer), and they were happily received. I don't know the extent or the sophistication of their storage area, but you might inquire there...
  by Kelly&Kelly
The Long Island Collection of the Queensboro Public Library in Jamaic has extensive holdings, including most of Vincent Seyfried's collection. They also treat the things professionally and protect them well...

Times do change and I'm not sure they are still interested in "the old" Long Island. Worth checking with them though. Much of the staff shun pre-2000 publications as irrelevant.
  by The EGE
If you're willing/able to scan items, Wikimedia Commons and Internet Archive are both large, well-run sites that are intended as long-term archives.

Commons is the media archives for Wikipedia and sister projects. Anything uploaded there can be used in articles on Wikipedia - every single photo you see on Wikipedia was put on Commons for that purpose. Commons is for freely usable media, which means that everything either needs to be in the public domain due to age (such as old timetables) or put under a free license (such as photos you took). I've uploaded about 10,000 of my own photos to Commons, so feel free to PM me if you're interested and want help.
  by ConstanceR46
Scanning to archives is an excellent solution. However, IMO the concern expressed in this post was what happens to the physical media. Digitizing it is good, but it's not foolproof - especially with the recent drum-ups over Intellectual Property against the Archive.
  by RGlueck
Correct. I do believe in digital scanning of materials as well as the wide, cost-free distribution or availability of materials. The physical material is another problem. Hardware, builders plates, brakeman's lanterns, signals, are largely found in museums. Originals, such as the PRR plates at RMPA are kept in a vault or in glass cabinets. Ephemera and similar paper goods are another subject entirely. These require temperature/humidity controlled storage and should only be touched by gloved curators. Sounds expensive because it is expensive. Photo negatives and one-of-a-kind prints are the same thing - maybe touchier.
I'm wondering if there is an archive already established which will accept LIRR documentation with those conditions established? University libraries are hardly a guaranteed choice, as I know of many horror stories pertaining to those.
  by nyandw
There are valid concerns and issues expressed here. I've hesitated to post the following with no solution, but:

The following I have gathered from first hand accounts and/or personal experience:

The Ron Ziel negatives at Queensborough Public Library. The cost iwas $40, over 10 years ago.

"...Roslyn Library charged $25 for a print plus another $25 for the publication right for the print = $50 for each of their prints..."

Stony Brook/Emery Collection: It cost $35 just to park there now. You can't even use your camera there anymore. You have to pay them to scan every print that you want.

Brooklyn Public Library does the same with Brainerd's glass plate negatives. They want $50 for a contact print back in 1986 when Ziel was working on his Victorian Stations book!

Access to local archived/reference library material, Islip for example: Make an appointment, wear gloves, "hovered" over by the employee for "rare items such as the 1873 Beers map of Islip Town (available on the Internet for over a decade).

Sad to say, but it appears that libraries are places where LIRR history goes to die in the "basement" :-(

A solution? I've digitized everything for the last 24 years on my website: http://www.trainsarefun.com/lirr/lirrcontents.htm I do not see this as a solution! But, this doesn't solve the long-term problems AND RGlueck's , ConstanceR46 concerns about physical media.

The outstanding LIRR material is varied, scattered, unknown to this small Internet group (100's perhaps- Forums, organizations, et al.), etc. and will, in the future, be in the hands of Family that will, in many cases "curb side it". BUT, let's first see what others have to say.

I would like to hear more about Queensborough. Do they have commitment to the the LIRR material as to future "easy access"?