Pennsylvania Railroad records
Held at: Independence Seaport Museum, J. Welles Henderson Archives and Library [Contact Us]Penn's Landing on the Delaware River, 211 South Columbus Blvd. and Walnut St., Philadelphia, PA, 19106
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Independence Seaport Museum, J. Welles Henderson Archives and Library. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
The Pennsylvania Railroad, which was headquartered in Philadelphia, transported people and goods, and was the largest railroad by traffic and revenue in the United States throughout its 20th century existence. At its peak, it controlled about 10,000 miles of rail line and it was at one time the largest publicly traded corporateion in the world. The Pennsylvania Railroad, also known as "Pennsy," operated from 1846 to 1968, when it merged with New York Central to form Penn Central Railroad. This particular merger followed a long tradition of company mergers in the history of the Pennsylvania Railroad, which built its transcontinental empire on partnerships and mergers with smaller railroad companies across the United States.
In addition to land based railroad lines, the Pennsylvania Railroad maintained a large fleet of "floating equipment," which included barges, ferries, steamboats and tugs. This floating equipment made transport easier and more efficient in harbors and across certain bodies of water than land transport alone enabled.
The Pennsylvania Railroad records date from 1891 to 1960 and contain 861 naval architectural designs and plans of the Pennsylvania Railroad’s body of floating equipment, which consisted of steamers, tugboats, ferryboats, carfloats, and barges. The collection also contains designs and plans of cranes and transfer bridges as well as a small number of dock, freight facility, and shipyard maps in the Philadelphia and Camden vicinity. The majority of the collection is arranged according to “F.E.” (or floating equipment) number, with a small amount of records arranged according to “S.P.” (or section patrol) craft number. Items 1 through 828 date from 1891 to 1960 and are arranged in ascending numerical order according to F.E. number. Items 829 to 858, all of which are dated 1944, are arranged in ascending numerical order according to S.P. number. Items 859 to 861, all of which are dated 1923, consist of freight terminal facility and shipyard maps and are arranged alphabetically. Users of this collection should note that abbreviations have been spelled out to their most logical full form according to the assumptions of the processing archivists based off of the content of the records, except in cases where there is no obvious full form for the abbreviations.
Plans in this collection document the general arrangement, machinery arrangement, boiler arrangement, framing plans, deck plans, section plans, and lettering layouts of steamers, tugboats, ferryboats, carfloats, and barges. Plans for various elements of boats are also included, documenting the construction and arrangement of engines, gears, condensers, boilers, piping, wiring, smokestacks, propellers, and other various components. Builders with plans represented in the collection include, but are not limited to, RTC Shipbuilding, New York Shipbuilding, Pusey and Jones Corporation, Dravo Corporation, American Bridge Company, Federal Shipbuilding and Drydock Company, Cramp Shipbuilding, Newport News Shipbuilding, and Bethlehem Steel/Harlan Plant. The collection also includes a chart of allotted periods of service for Pennsylvania Railroad floating equipment and a layout of the Pennsylvania Railroad yard in Hoboken. This collection will prove useful for researchers interested in late 19th to mid-20th century naval architecture, technology, and transportation, as well as the planning methodology for these materials. Researchers particularly interested tugboats and ferryboats will find this collection useful, as well as those interested in local manifestations of these topics.
Other collection indexes are available onsite at the Independence Seaport Museum, J. Welles Henderson Archives and Library, enabling searches by vessel name and design firm.
The processing of this collection was made possible through generous funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, administered through the Council on Library and Information Resources’ “Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives” Project.
This collection was minimally processed in 2013-2014, as part of an experimental project conducted under the auspices of the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries to help eliminate processing backlog in Philadelphia repositories. A minimally processed collection is one processed at a less intensive rate than traditionally thought necessary to make a collection ready for use by researchers. When citing sources from this collection, researchers are advised to defer to folder titles provided in the finding aid rather than those provided on the physical folder.
Employing processing strategies outlined in Mark Greene's and Dennis Meissner's 2005 article "More Product, Less Process: Revamping Traditional Processing Approaches to Deal With Late 20th-Century Collections," the project team tested the limits of minimal processing on collections of all types and ages in 16 Philadelphia area repositories. A primary goal of the project, the team processed at an average rate of 4 hours per linear foot of records, a fraction of the time ordinarily reserved for the arrangement and description of collections. Among other time saving strategies, the project team did not extensively review the content of the collections or complete any preservation work.
- Independence Seaport Museum, J. Welles Henderson Archives and Library
- Finding Aid Author
- Finding aid prepared by Evan Peugh and Amanda Mita
- Finding Aid Date
- 2014 May 15
- The creation of the electronic guide for this collection was made possible through generous funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, administered through the Council on Library and Information Resources’ “Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives” Project.
- Access Restrictions
This collection is open for research use.
- Use Restrictions
Copyright restrictions may apply. Please contact the Archives with requests for copying and for authorization to publish, quote or reproduce the material.