The Center for Railroad Photography & Art has grown into one of the premier rail photo archives. It now has over 200,000 photos in its collection. Of these, 20,000 have been digitized and are available online. There is no charge for usage by nonprofits. A full time archivist was hired in 2015. He supervises grad student interns from the University of Wisconsin’s School of Library and Information Studies. Although they have a large backlog to digitize, they’re making progress, 250-500 photos each week. Of these 50-100 are posted.
The collection includes some famous names, and others not so well known. Here’s how it grew over time.
-2006 Leo King Collection, approximately 14,000 images of various formats
-2006 Ted Rose Collection, approximately 4,900 black-and-white negatives
-2009 Perry Frank Johnson Collection, approximately 5,000 black-and-white prints
-2010 Wallace W. Abbey Collection, approximately 23,000 black-and-white negatives and 8,000 color slides
-2010 Glenn Oestreich Collection, approximately 20 small boxes of prints and several thousand negatives
-2011 John F. Bjorklund Collection, 55,000 color slides
-2011 Ken Burbach Collection, approximately 1,800 color slides
-2011 Hal Lewis Collection, approximately 1,000 images of various formats
-2011 Fred M. Springer Collection, approximately 8,000 black-and-white negatives and 50,000 color slides
-2012 David Plowden Collection, approximately 150 black-and-white railroad publicity prints and 30 archival prints for exhibition
-2015 J. Parker Lamb Collection, approximately 2,700 black-and-white negatives in seven groups (as of March 2017, with more on the way)
-2016 Robert A. Witbeck Collection, approximately 1,100 black-and-white negatives
-2017 Donald W. Furler Collection, approximately 5,000 images, mostly black-and-white negatives
There are also smaller collections from Lewis Ableidinger, Norm Adler, Chris Burger, Luther Gette, George R. Jones, Arno Lenz, Willis McCaleb, Bob Olmsted, Norbert Shacklette, Tom Sink, Doug Wornom, ranging from a dozen photographs to several hundred.
To view the collections, go to http://www.railphoto-art.org/collections/. Click on the individual collection. If there is a browse button, at least part of the collection has been digitized.
Funding the Center
In 2015 the Center’s Board Chair T. Bondurant French made a $1 million gift to establish an endowment for the Center. In addition he has recently made a challenge grant to match any contributions dollar for dollar up to $1 million. Since there were over 600 cash contributors in 2016, that number seems achievable.