Library & Archives

Your portal to California’s railway heritage

On May 2, 1981, the California State Railroad Museum opened to the public, as did the Museum Library. The library has been an integral component of CSRM since the project’s inception. It was clear to the founders of the Museum that a thoughtfully assembled collection of published, manuscript, and pictorial materials would not only enhance the museum’s services but also support its conservation and education programs. With this goal in mind, as railroad equipment and artifacts were gathered for study and exhibit, collections staff also acquired documentary materials to form the nucleus of the California State Railroad Museum Library.

Library Information

Phone: (916) 323-8073
Fax: (916) 327-5655
Email: [email protected]

The Library

Tuesday - Saturday
1:00 to 5:00 p.m., except state holidays

Reading Room

open to the public without charge
Tuesday - Saturday 1:00 to 5:00 p.m.

Library collections held off-site in the new California Statewide Museum Collection Center are available for research. Please contact Library staff in advance of your visit. Staff will bring requested materials to the Library once per week, each Tuesday.

The California State Railroad Museum Library provides public access to the Museum’s documentary collections. The Library is located adjacent to the Museum of Railroad History on the second floor of the Big Four Building at 111 “I” Street.

*Library materials do not circulate and may only be used in the reading room. There is an extensive set of railroad history and reference books, as well as periodicals, available for review in the reading room. The remainder of the collection is in closed stacks or housed off-site.
The focus of the Library collection is the history of railroads and railroading in California and the adjacent states from the 1850s to the present. Collections also cover selected railroad topics throughout North America, including Canada, Mexico, and Central America. Emphasis is on acquiring materials relating to the social, economic, political, cultural, technological and environmental impacts that the industry has had, and continues to have, on the region.

The collection has been assembled primarily through donations from individual and corporate benefactors. Gifts range in size from a single menu to hundreds of cartons. The 1982 deposit of the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society research collection expanded the Library’s resources. The state and the non-profit California State Railroad Museum Foundation provide for the purchase of selected additions through an opportunity acquisition program. Reference sources include a wide range of books, periodicals, railroad association and union publications, ephemera, government documents, and trade catalogues. The Library also collects manuscript materials and corporate records, photographs, maps and engineering drawings. See Library Collections for more detailed information about the Museum’s documentary collections.

The California State Railroad Museum Library provides public access to the Museum’s documentary collections. The Library is located adjacent to the Museum of Railroad History on the second floor of the Big Four Building at 111 “I” Street. The reading room is open to the public without charge Tuesday through Saturday from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. Library collections do not circulate and are to be used only in the reading room.

The Library responds to approximately 5,000 requests each year. Our patrons include historians, genealogists, fiction writers, students of all ages, picture researchers, film makers, modelers, and members of the legal and environment-related professions.

To be certain the collection you want to see will be available, contact staff ahead of time.
  • Please register upon arrival.
  • A coat rack is available for the convenience of researchers who will be required to deposit briefcases, backpacks, purses, coats and other personal property not essential to their work in the reading room.
  • Personal books and papers brought to the reading room are subject to examination upon departure.
  • Use only a pencil to take notes. Personal computers are allowed. Scanners, cameras and personal photocopiers are not permitted.
  • Drinking and eating are prohibited in the reading room.
  • Please be considerate of other researchers. Speak quietly, or leave the reading room for extended conversations.
  • Patrons will be asked to complete a request slip for each item retrieved from the Library stacks.
  • Readers are responsible for the use and return of materials they have requested and may not lend or exchange them with other readers.
  • The number of materials available for use at one time may be restricted.
  • All material must be returned to the reference desk upon completion. Materials will not be paged from the Library stacks after 4:30 p.m.
  • Materials are to be handled with care and returned in the order and condition in which they are received.
  • Photographs must be handled with gloves.
  • Never mark on Library materials or remove items from protective sleeves. If you notice filing or cataloging errors, please bring them to the attention of a staff member.


There are several levels of access to documentary collections. For some, there is only an alphabetical list of railroads represented. For others, there are descriptive finding aids. Many document types have been catalogued into databases which can be searched by keywords and categories such as corporate name, geographic location or date.

The Library’s collection of published materials totals over 10,000 books and reports. The Library is a member of OCLC, a national online bibliographic database. Popular titles and reference books are available for research in the reading room. Additional books are housed in the Library stacks; some titles are stored off-site.

Imprints date from the 1830s to contemporary publications. The collection includes popular titles about railroading and rail travel, corporate histories, regional surveys, engineering and technological treatises, pictorial accounts of a single railroad or a geographic area, and how-to volumes for modelers. The Edwina Coffing Western Americana Collection contains basic texts and bibliographies pertaining to California and U.S. history.

Specialized reference works provide information for historical, equipment and genealogical research. Henry V. Poor’s Manual of the Railroads of the United States, issued annually from 1868, and Moody’s various railroad manuals, issued annually from 1900, provide summary histories of North American railroads. Train, route and schedule information can be traced in The Official Guide of the Railways, published monthly since 1868 and containing the passenger schedules of over 700 North American railroads. The photographs, diagrams, specifications, glossaries and descriptive text published in the Car Builders’ Dictionary and Cyclopedia and the Locomotive Dictionary and Cyclopedia provide a wealth of mechanical information. The library has a complete set of both series, issued on an irregular basis since the late 1800s. The Official Railway Equipment Register published monthly beginning in 1885 and quarterly since 1937, lists in tabular form details of car ownership, marking and numbers, and dimensions and capacity for North American railroads.

The Biographical Directory of Railway Officials of America (issued irregularly between 1885 and 1922), Who’s Who in Railroading in North America (issued irregularly between 1930 and 1968) and the currentWho’s Who in Railroading and Rail Transit provide basic career and biographical details for upper-level management personnel. The Pocket List of Railroad Officials has since 1895 provided concise listings of railroad management as well as railroad-related manufacturing companies.

Over 800 titles are represented in the periodical collection. Popular railroading and hobby magazines are available for review as are publications from regional fan groups and railroad historical associations. Industry publications trace railroad practice. The Library also collects employee magazines issued by railroad unions and the major Western railroads. Patrons can use the Library’s set of the Engineering Index (1892-1984) to locate periodical articles relating to the railroad industry and technology.

Other serial publications include corporate annual reports and the proceedings of railroad-related professional organizations such as the Master Car Builders’ Association and the American Railway Engineering Association.
The library’s corporate collections relate to over 1,500 railroads. In some files, there may be only a single clipping, in others there are multiple references covering all aspects of railroad management, operation, finance, and public relations. Typical sources in these files include rule books, equipment operation and maintenance manuals, promotional brochures, union agreements, employee instructions and job descriptions, historical summaries, and rosters.

Certain types of documents relating to corporate entities are maintained in separate files. These include menus, tickets, passenger and freight tariffs, stocks and bonds, travel passes, stationery, forms and signs, and business and membership cards.

Materials in corporate collections have not been individually catalogued. Library staff can identify the railroads for which we have information.

Between 1911 and 1963 the Interstate Commerce Commission issued accident investigation reports as required by the Accident Reports Act of May 6, 1910. These cover accidents which involved injury to persons, equipment or roadbed, but do not cover every railroad-related accident or fatality. The Library has an incomplete but extensive set of these reports for the years circa 1927 to 1963. Photocopies of accident reports can be ordered.

Search the Railroad Accident Reports online catalog.
Full-size drawings, especially those produced by manufacturers and architects, are the most desirable source for design details. Drawings come in many formats from the original ink-on-linen delineation to blue-line copies. Subjects include not only locomotives and cars but also bridges, boats, stations, turntables, roundhouses, water towers, motor cars, and a multitude of obscure but essential components.

Highlights include the collections of the Lima Locomotive Works (approximately 40,000 drawings), Southern Pacific Railroad (approximately 25,000 drawings from the Stockton Division and the Sacramento Division), Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway (approximately 25,000 drawings), Pacific Fruit Express Company (unprocessed collection of drawings from the Mechanical and Engineering Department in Brisbane), the Whitcomb Locomotive Company and Sterling Engine Company (unprocessed collection of mechanical drawings), Risdon Iron & Locomotive Works (unprocessed collection of drawings of mining and industrial equipment), and the Western Pacific Railroad (unprocessed collection of freight car drawings).

Early California equipment builders are represented by examples from Carter Brothers, Golden State and Miners Iron Works, Union Iron Works and the Hall-Scott Motor Car Company. Some builder’s specifications, which often include drawing numbers, are also part of the Library’s drawing collections. The Library has microfilm copies of drawings produced by the Union Pacific Railroad as well as the Northern Pacific and Great Northern Railroads.

Catalogued drawings can be searched by corporate name, keyword, drawing number, or date.

There are special instructions for ordering reproductions from the Lima Locomotive Works Collection. Unless condition, size or other restrictions preclude reproduction, reference copies of drawings may be ordered.
The definition of ephemera is “something short lived or transitory.” Paper ephemera, either printed or manuscript, is produced for a specific purpose and is intended for disposal. Advertising material, blotters, business cards, calendars, forms and signs, postcards, postcards, posters, stationery, tickets, and travel passes are examples of the types of ephemera the Library collects.

The Library also has ephemera relating to industry associations and labor unions, fairs and events, and railway and technology museums. An extensive set of California rail enthusiast organization by-laws, membership lists, and excursion announcements complements the information available in the Library’s holdings of club newsletters. Subject files cover topics such as movies, miniature railroads, hobos, and railroad terminology. The Library also has information about notable railroad-related personalities, including artists, writers, photographers, and collectors.

For the most part, ephemera has not been individually catalogued nor entered into searchable databases. Each document type is arranged by corporate name, and may be further subdivided by subject, date or personal name.
The California State Railroad Museum Library has several types of documents which may provide biographical information about railroad employees and officials. Biographical directories tend to document high-level management. Other railroad-issued publications, such as corporate directories or employee magazines cover a wider range of individuals.

Listed below are selected sources which may include personal information. All are available for review in the reading room. If you are unable to schedule a visit to Sacramento, please contact the Library. Library staff will search for a single specific name in the sources noted with an asterisk. Some restrictions may apply. For the remaining sources, your personal review is requested.

Published Sources
  • Published quarterly since 1895. Arranged by corporate name with a personal name index. Lists only upper-level management with job title.
  • Published: 1885, 1887, [1893], 1896, [1901], 1906, 1913, 1922. Biographical entries for upper-level management. CSRM does not have the years enclosed in brackets.
  • Published: 1930, 1940, 1946, 1949, 1954, 1959, 1964, [1968]. Biographical entries for upper-level management. CSRM does not have the years enclosed in brackets.
  • Published: 1971, 1977, 1983, 1985. Biographical entries for upper-level management.

[Corporate magazines]

Many railroads published magazines which included information about employees. The CSRM Library has extensive runs of titles issued by Western railroads and selected issues for other North American lines. CSRM Library staff can advise you of the appropriate title for your search and our holdings. Library staff cannot search magazines for individual names.

[Seniority Lists / Corporate Directories]

Railroads and railroad unions compiled lists of employees for labor or record-keeping purposes. In nearly all cases the information is limited to employee name, date of hire and job title. Occasionally there will be notations for promotions or location of employment. The Library does not have this type of document for every railroad. These documents are available for review in the reading room.
Manuscript Sources
The California State Railroad Museum Library has several archival collections which contain employee information. These documents cover specific railroads, for specific occupations, during specific time periods. The Library does not have complete employee records for any railroad. Some materials are held off-site. Please call in advance for an appointment to use manuscript sources.

Several of the large employee files are described below. Library staff will search for a single specific name in collections marked with an asterisk.

  • *ATCHISON, TOPEKA & SANTA FE RAILWAY Coast Lines employees, Arizona and California, circa 1900-1950. Single sheet personnel records arranged in alphabetical order by surname. Incomplete file for surnames beginning with the letters A, B, C, I, J, K, L, M, R, S, W, Y. These records have been microfilmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah.

  • Trainmen and yardmen, Southern California area, circa 1890s-1910s (with some annotations into the 1940s). One bound volume. Not in alphabetical order. Advance appointment required for use. These records have been microfilmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah.

  • ATCHISON, TOPEKA & SANTA FE RAILWAY Yardmen and office workers, Los Angeles Division, 1915-1925. One bound volume. This is an incomplete file and contains ONLY surnames beginning with the letters Tak – Zim. Advance appointment required for use. These records have been microfilmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah.

  • CENTRAL PACIFIC/SOUTHERN PACIFIC RAILROADS Corporate financial vouchers. Central Pacific, 1861-1889; Southern Pacific, 1879-circa 1910. Approximately 70,000 vouchers arranged by year and then by voucher number. Some vouchers contain payroll information. There is no index. Advance appointment required for review. One year of vouchers will be brought to the reading room each visit.

  • *PACIFIC FRUIT EXPRESS COMPANY Employee record cards, Roseville shops, circa 1920s-1970s. Includes laborers, carpenters, carmen.

  • *SOUTHERN PACIFIC RAILROAD Employee record cards, Sacramento General Shops, circa 1900-1930. Approximately 50,000 cards arranged in alphabetical order by surname. Information may include birth date, occupation, address, previous SP employment and wages. The file is incomplete for surnames beginning with the letters H through K, and T through Z. These records have been microfilmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah.
  • Researchers may also wish to contact the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board at: U.S. Railroad Board Genealogy Research.
Manuscript collections are unpublished materials created by corporate bodies or individuals during the course of daily activities. The Library’s manuscript collections are extensive and diverse, ranging in size from a single item to hundreds of cartons. The archives contain corporate, operating, financial, personnel, and engineering records, personal papers, research notes of writers and historians, as well as a wide variety of railroad-related documents accumulated by private collectors.

The administrative and financial records of several California and Western railroads form the core of the Library’s archival holdings. These documents relate to the major Western railroad companies such as the Southern Pacific Railroad and its numerous predecessor and subsidiary companies, as well as to the Western Pacific, the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe, and the Union Pacific Railroads. The Library also collects the records of smaller lines such as the Sierra Railway, the Virginia & Truckee, Nevada Central, and the Northwestern Pacific Railroads.

The Southern Pacific Company files are extensive. Although much of the material is unprocessed, finding aids are available for a sizeable amount. For the Central Pacific Railroad, the Library has manuscripts which document the early years, including payment vouchers, payrolls and engineering records pertaining to the building of the transcontinental railroad. For both the CP and the SP, equipment records document the railroads’ roster of locomotive and rolling stock.

The Library received the Western Pacific Railroad Presidents’ files in 1987. There is much information about the day-to-day operation of the company, its policies, financial and technical information for the period 1905-1983. Information about subsidiary companies such as the Tidewater Southern and the Sacramento Northern may also be found in the WP archives.

The records of companies which supplied materials to the industry are also part the Library’s holdings. In 1991, the Baldwin-Hamilton Company donated a collection relating to the Whitcomb Locomotive Company and the Sterling Engine Company which includes records of the sales department, specifications, and vendors files, as well as drawings. The Pacific Fruit Express collection contains material relating to the construction and operation of freight cars.

The Library has microfilm copies of significant railroad collections held by other institutions. These include records relating to the Baldwin Locomotive Works from the DeGolyer Library, Stanford University and the Smithsonian Institution, and the Collis P. Huntington Papers from the George Arents Research Library at Syracuse University.

The Library has manuscript collections of railroad writers and historians. These authors are Jeff Asay, Lucius Morris Beebe, Gerald Martin Best, Arthur Detmers Dubin, Philip Ross Hastings, M.D., Gilbert Harold Kneiss, Louis L. Stein, Jr. and Jack Russell Wagner. Many of these collections contain research notes and rough drafts relating to their publications. The lives of the men and women who worked for the railroad are documented in several collections ranging in size from a single certificate of apprenticeship to more substantial coverage of an individual’s career. Employee record cards from Southern Pacific’s Sacramento Shops between 1900 and 1930 document over 55,000 local railroad workers. For more information regarding the Library’s holdings relating to railroad employees, see Genealogy Resources.

Several collections reflect the role which labor unions have played in the railroad industry. These include the records of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen, the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen, and other Western branches of major railroad-related unions.

In 1996 the Museum, funded by a grant from the Sacramento Trust for Historic Preservation and the California State Railroad Museum Foundation, undertook the Southern Pacific Railroad Sacramento Shops Oral History Project. Men and women who worked in the Sacramento Shops as laborers, craftsmen, clerks and managers were interviewed, their sessions taped and transcribed, and in some cases videotaped. These intriguing stories are available for review in the Library reading room.

The Library also preserves documents relating to the history and development of Old Sacramento State Historic Park and the California State Railroad Museum.

Finding aids provide detailed descriptions of processed collections, their intellectual organization, and at varying levels of analysis, of individual items in the collections. Finding aids for processed collections have been entered into a database and can be searched by corporate or personal name, keyword or date. Preliminary box lists are available for unprocessed collections.

Search the Archives and Manuscripts online catalog.

Selected CSRM finding aids have been converted to electronic format and are available on the Online Archive of California website. The Online Archive of California, a component of the California Digital Library, is a single searchable database of the finding aids to primary sources held by nearly fifty California libraries, archives, museums, and historical societies.
The Library’s cartographic materials cover the period from the 1850s to date. Many are ink-on-linen maps, which encompass the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway in the Southwest, the Southern Pacific Railroad in California and Nevada, as well as numerous short lines and industrial railroads.

Railroad maps illustrate track locations, station plans, profiles and right of way. Engineers and surveyor’s notebooks from the Atchison, Topeka & Sante Fe’s Coast Lines record plans and sketches of depots, structures, right of way, location of crossings, bridges and topographical features compiled during the railroad’s building of the route across the Southwest and California from the late nineteenth century through the 1920s.

Catalogued maps can be searched by location, corporate name, drawing number, date, or keyword.

The California State Railroad Museum photograph collection numbers over one million images in print (black and white, and color) and negative (film and glass plate) formats. Black and white images predominate. Over 4,000 corporate entities are represented. Both amateur and professional photographers as well as railroad and manufacturing companies have contributed photographic images to the Library. Every conceivable aspect of railroading has been captured on film. Although images of locomotives and rolling stock are the most common subject, users will also find views of trains, stations, shops and yards, bridges and buildings, as well as scenes of construction, railroad employees and documentation of significant events. Images which contain identified individuals have been catalogued separately in a portrait file.

Selections from the Southern Pacific public relations file (the surviving file is now housed at the Union Pacific Collection in Omaha) are available for study. The Southern Pacific Engineering Department print file contains rare views of construction in Oregon, California and Arizona in the early twentieth century. Early Western Pacific construction is also well documented. A donation from Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway provides in-depth coverage of early to mid-twentieth century rolling stock production, with an emphasis on freight cars. Researchers can study Pacific Fruit Express Company photographs which feature refrigerator cars and icing facilities. The Library has copies of the color specification sheets compiled by the Baldwin Locomotive Works (the original documents are held by Stanford University).

Photograph collections assembled by San Francisco Bay Area railroad enthusiasts Paul Darrell, Gilbert H. Kneiss, Roger Levenson, Warren Marcus, Stanley F. Merritt, and Louis L. Stein, Jr. have been added to the collection. There are also reference prints of railroad-related images by early Western photographers Alfred A. Hart, Lawrence and Houseworth, and Isaiah West Taber.

The photographic collections are housed in closed stacks. Library staff page files for patron use. Loose prints are filed in acid-free folders which are arranged in alphabetical order by corporate name, and if quantity warrants, further divided alphabetically by subject. Subject headings may be further subdivided by geographical or numerical order. Prints which lack any corporate identification are filed by subject. The donor’s name and the negative number (if available) are marked on the back of the print. Unless condition or other restrictions apply, reference prints may be ordered.*

Prints from various collections have been interfiled into a single and extensive alphabetical sequence – the California State Railroad Museum collection. The following photographic files are maintained separately from the Museum collection.

The Railway & Locomotive Historical Society deposited its research collection at the Museum in 1982. Over 300,000 photographs are arranged by corporate name and then by subject. The R&LHS collection is especially strong in its coverage of eastern and mid-western lines, but California and Nevada railroads are also well represented.

The photograph and negative collection of Lucius Beebe (1902-1966) and Charles Clegg (1916-1979) was acquired in 2000 through a combination of purchase and donation. The pair are perhaps the best-known and certainly among the most prolific authors and photographers to have graced the North American railroad scene. Secured from Charles Clegg’s sister, Ann Clegg Holloway and her husband John E. Holloway, of Washington, D.C., the collection includes more than 11,000 photographs and over 4,000 original black and white negatives. Also included in the collection are prints from the collections of other well known railroad photographers such as Gerald Martin Best, Philip Ross Hastings, M.D., Fred Jukes, Stan Kistler, and Richard Steinheimer. Beebe was among the first popular authors to gain access to the Pullman Company archives and the collection includes many enlargements and contact prints of opulent cars built by Pullman. Contact the Library for more information regarding access to this collection.

The Gerald Martin Best Collection was donated to the Museum Library in 1986. Mr. Best (1895-1985) was a railroad photographer, modeler, and the author of numerous histories such as Iron Horses to Promontory and Nevada County Narrow Gauge. The photograph collection includes over 70,000 prints and 55,000 negatives, documenting more than 2,500 North American railroads. Prints are arranged by corporate name. Nearly all of the images are roster shots of steam locomotives. These have been further arranged in road number order. There are also train shots, and some coverage of diesel power and rolling stock. Not all prints have negatives, nor do all negatives have prints. A photocopy of the cards Mr. Best used to record date and location identification is available; however, it is not always possible to precisely link this data with a specific print.

California author Robert M. Hanft presented his negative collection to the Museum in 1995. Dr. Hanft is the author of several railroad histories including San Diego & Arizona: The Impossible Railroad and Pine Across the Mountain: California’s McCloud River Railroad. Steam locomotives from the 1930s as well as electric traction equipment and first generation diesel-electrics are the focus of Dr. Hanft’s work. The 17,000-plus piece collection was largely photographed by the donor but includes select examples of work from other notable railroad photographers. Although there are no reference prints at this time, Dr. Hanft prepared a detailed inventory of the collection. The negatives are arranged by corporate name and then by road number.

The black and white negative and color slide collection of Philip R. Hastings, M.D. was donated by his family in 1997. Dr. Hastings (1925-1987) was well known for the many illustrated articles which appeared in Trains during the 1950s and 1960s as well as his contributions to and authorship of numerous railroad books. His images often centered on the surroundings and people of the railroading rather than a traditional view of a locomotive or train. In the collection are 46,000-plus black and white negatives, about 4,000 prints, and over 32,000 35 mm color transparencies. Dr. Hastings arranged his negatives by railroad name and then grouped them together by date photographed or topic. Coverage is nationwide with an emphasis on mid-west and eastern lines. Please contact the Library for more information regarding access to the collection.

The Pullman Company builder’s photograph collection numbers over 4,100 glass plate and film negatives. The collection was assembled through purchase and the gift of Arthur D. Dubin and the late George Krambles. The majority of the images are exterior and interior views of passenger cars and date from the late 1880s to the early 1940s. There are also views of freight cars, trucks, windows and chairs, as well as a series documenting shop activities. A database provides access to images by railroad name, car name or number, lot or plan number, Pullman negative number, and date. The Library is assembling a master file of Pullman prints for review. This set includes images for which the Library does not have an original negative. Both the negative and print files are arranged in Pullman negative number order.

Search the Pullman Company Negatives online catalog.

The California State Railroad Museum equipment collection photograph file documents the motive power, rolling stock and miscellaneous track vehicles owned by the Museum. Prints and slides taken prior to arrival at the Museum are arranged in albums by railroad and then in chronological order. Prints and slides of CSRM equipment taken during the restoration process as well as images documenting display and use subsequent to acquisition are also available.

*Unless condition, copyright or other restrictions apply, reference prints from the Museum’s photographic collections may be ordered.
Timetables, both public and employee, record train schedules, fares, equipment consists, station stops, and other useful operating information. Employee timetables contain additional information regarding operating rules, station services, and personnel. The Railway & Locomotive Historical Society timetable collection supplements the Library’s resources with extensive coverage of eastern and mid-western lines.

Employee timetables issued by over 400 railroads have been individually catalogued.

  • Search the Employee Timetables online catalog.
  • Public timetables are arranged by railroad and then by date. They have not yet been individually catalogued. There is a list of the over 400 railroads for which the Library has selected issues.
The trade catalog collection contains product information for close to 1,000 manufacturers and suppliers to the industry. Every conceivable item relating to the construction, operation and maintenance of railroads can be found in trade catalogs. Typical documents include specifications, parts and operating manuals, advertising literature, and sales catalogs.

Trade catalogs are arranged in alphabetical order by the corporate name of the manufacturer or supplier. To date publications for only a few corporate entities have been entered into a database.

Donate Your Collection

The California State Railroad Museum welcomes donations. The Museum’s Collections are primarily the result of the gifts of many individual and corporate donors. The Museum makes additions to the collections primarily by donation more than 95 percent of the present collection is the result of gifts from more than 2,000 donors since the Museum’s inception in 1976.

Each year families, collectors, and companies select the California State Railroad Museum as the permanent repository for their railroad photographs, books, manuscripts, and artifacts. The Museum Library has a distinguished record for acquiring, organizing, preserving and making available collections of photographic and documentary materials.

As a unit of California State Parks, the Museum’s Collections are governed and managed in accordance with the California Department of Parks and Recreation’s Department Operating Manual (DOM) Chapter 2000 and the practices, procedures, and forms contained in DPR’s Museum Collections Management Handbooks, Volumes One and Two.

The Museum’s Curatorial Staff has the day-to-day responsibility for the care and use of the collections. Museum Staff manage the collections in full compliance with professional standards governing the ownership and responsibility for maintaining and documenting cultural property.
It is the Museum’s preference to own and have full, clear title to all permanent collections held by the institution. The Museum also places a high value on owning all associated copyright, literary and intellectual property rights associated with objects and materials which it holds.

The Museum places a high priority and value on owning original, authentic and well-documented original collections as opposed to reproductions, replicas or fakes.
Additions to the Museum’s permanent collections are made very consciously and cautiously. Decisions on additions to the Museum’s Collections are carefully made by the Museum’s Curatorial Staff.

At the present time, the Museum accepts less than half of the artifacts and documentary materials offered for donation. If materials are declined, Museum Staff attempt to suggest other appropriate beneficiary institutions.
Incoming loans are entered into only when there is a very specific need or program, where outright gift is not an immediate option, or in instances where temporary loan or custody will likely lead to eventual Museum ownership.
Interested donors are encouraged to contact appropriate Museum Staff to discuss their items proposed for donation to the Museum’s permanent collections.

In making a preliminary decision to accept an item, staff considers such issues as relevance, provenance, title, location, intrinsic value, and condition. Upon initial assessment, Museum Staff will indicate whether there is an interest to receive the items offered for donation.

It is the Museum’s preference to receive donations at the Museum during normal office hours. In some instances, Museum Staff will give instructions for shipping items or possibly arrange for transport or pick-up of large or valuable donations. Upon physical examination, Museum Staff always reserve the right to decline a proposed donation. Once the item(s) have been received, Museum Staff prepare an inventory of the donation and forward this together with the Department’s standard Deed of Gift forms to the donor for review and signature. Many donors help expedite the collection inventory, gift documents, and the cataloging process by preparing their own advance itemized listing of their donated items.

The donor is asked to sign and return three copies of the final Deed of Gift. An agent may sign for a corporation. In some instances, both husband and wife sign the Deed of Gift forms. Upon return of the signed forms, the donated item(s) move from pending acquisition status to that of donated objects or materials.

Gifts may be made in memory of an individual. The Museum recognizes that some donors prefer to remain anonymous or to receive only a brief acknowledgement letter regarding receipt of their gift. Once donated, items become part of the Museum’s permanent collections. The Museum carefully holds in public trust all items which it has received by donation. Disposal or exchange of any artifact is called a “deaccession” and is made in full conformity with the Department’s guidelines for management of interpretive collections. Deaccessions of items in the permanent collection are rarely made.
The Museum cannot agree to permanently exhibit any donated item as a condition of donation. Exhibition space constraints limit the number of artifacts which can be exhibited at any one time. Donated locomotives and cars are periodically rotated on display. The new Railroad Technology Museum will afford more opportunities for public access to the Museum’s Collection of locomotives and rolling stock.

Currently only about five percent of the Museum’s small Three-Dimensional Artifact Collection can be displayed at any one time. Museum Staff draw from the artifact collections for rotating and changing exhibits within the Museum. Documentary, manuscript, books, printed, and pictorial materials reside in the Museum’s public research library where, once cataloged, they are available during the public hours of the Library Reading Room. The Exhibit Staff also draws from the Library Collection for rotating and changing exhibits within the Museum as well as for use in publications.

In general, the Museum houses like material with similar types of materials. Upon advance discussions with Museum Staff, large collections may be retained together and specifically identified by the name of the maker, the donor, or the donor’s family.

Donated items are marked by Museum Staff with the unique accession number assigned to each donor. Accompanying cash contributions are encouraged to help process, conserve, properly store, and make readily available large and significant donations.
Donors to the Museum receive the satisfaction of knowing their donated items become a permanent part of the collections of the California State Railroad Museum at Sacramento and/or at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park at Jamestown. In addition, donors with individual or cumulative gifts of cash or in-kind contributions of collections totaling $5,000 or more are acknowledged by name on the Museum’s donor acknowledgement wall in the Museum of Railroad History.

Donors are acknowledged by name and in categories by the estimated total value of their gift(s). The donor wall is generally updated every two years.
If desired, a formal appraisal of a gift is the responsibility of the donor. It is very helpful to the Museum Staff to know early in the donation process if the donor anticipates engaging the services of an appraiser to provide a detailed appraisal for tax purposes. After a review of donated materials, Museum Staff will attempt to provide the names of competent appraisers who can assess the value of a donation for tax purposes, if desired.

Appraisals are generally made on Museum property after the materials have been received, inventoried, and the Deed of Gift forms have been completed by the donor(s). The IRS does not permit the benefiting institution to appraise donated objects. In some instances, Museum Staff may be able to suggest price guides and/or dealer’s sales lists for comparable non-unique items such as published books, a railroad lantern, or piece of railroad china.

Donations to the Museum are tax deductible, to the full extent allowed by law, for both federal and State of California income tax purposes.

The California State Railroad Museum welcomes donations. The Museum’s Collections are primarily the result of the gifts of many individual and corporate donors. The Museum makes additions to the collections primarily by donation more than 95 percent of the present collection is the result of gifts from more than 2,000 donors since the Museum’s inception in 1976.

Each year families, collectors, and companies select the California State Railroad Museum as the permanent repository for their railroad photographs, books, manuscripts, and artifacts. The Museum Library has a distinguished record for acquiring, organizing, preserving and making available collections of photographic and documentary materials.

Lima Locomotive Works

The Lima Locomotive Works Collection contains over 60,000 ink-on-linen drawings as well as drawing indexes for specific locomotives. Although the original drawings may be examined (on a delayed basis), in most cases patrons order reproductions of the drawings without prior review.

Library staff will assist patrons who search the online Lima drawing catalog in the Reading room.

To learn what drawings Lima used to build a specific locomotive, you must first consult the drawing index for that locomotive. These oversize booklets range in length from a single sheet to over 100 pages. The contents of these pre-printed indexes are arranged by component with the drawing number (also known as card number) noted alongside.

The Library has two lists of the drawing indexes in its collection: one for Shay locomotives, and one for rod locomotives. The lists are arranged in construction (or shop) number order. Under each construction number is noted which drawing index the Library owns.

The California State Railroad Museum collection of Lima Locomotive Works drawings and drawing indexes, although extensive, is not complete. The Allen County Museum has Lima Locomotive Works documents.
  • Determine the construction number for the engine you are researching. Sources such as Eric Hirsimaki, Lima: The History (Edmonds, Washington: Hundman Publishing, 1986) or Michael Koch, The Shay Locomotive: Titan of the Timber (Denver: World Press, 1971) contain rosters. Library staff members can offer limited assistance in determining construction numbers.
  • Prepare a separate Lima Index Reproduction Request form for each construction number. Library staff will return this form to you with our holdings marked.
If you then wish to place an order for a photocopy of a drawing index, mark an X in the “Place Order” column, sign and date the form, and mail it to the Library together with the appropriate fees.

Please allow several weeks for the completion of your Lima drawing index reproduction request.

  • Mark your selections with an X in the “Place Order” column, sign and date the form.
  • Enclose $25 processing fee and mail to the Library.
  • The Library will process orders for 10 drawings at one time.
  • You will be invoiced for the drawing reproduction fees and the postage and handling fees.
  • Please allow several weeks for the completion of your Lima drawing reproduction order.
  • See Reproduction Orders and Permissions for more information on the Library’s reproduction services.
  • $25.00 processing fee* (limited to 10 drawings per request)
  • $2.00 per sheet (11" x 17")
  • $6.25 per sheet (up to 36” wide)
  • $12.50 per sheet (37” to 72” wide)
  • $18.75 per sheet ( > 72” wide)
  • $12.50 minimum postage and handling.
*Paper copies of Lima drawings are shipped rolled in a tube and sent via UPS. As the final shipping fee is based on weight and destination, there may be additional fees.

  • Digital files to CD* (no paper copies)
  • $6.25 per drawing
  • $30.00 delivery on a CD or $12.50 electronic delivery
Please contact Library staff for a quote.

*These fees are payable in advance. Oversize drawing reproduction fees are determined from the vendor’s invoice and cannot be precisely determined in advance. All fees are payable in U.S. funds. Please make check payable to “CSRM Foundation.” All Lima orders to addresses outside of the United States will be processed as digital files.


Unless the condition of the document, or other restrictions apply, the Library may provide reference copies of material from printed, manuscript and photograph collections, and from the Museum’s collection of maps and technical drawings. There may be restrictions as to the number of items which can be reproduced at one time.

Further reproduction of any material from the California State Railroad Museum collections requires the advance written permission of the Museum’s Director of Collections.

Below is a list of the most frequently used California State Railroad Museum Library reproduction request forms and order instructions. Follow the link to the instructions or the form. Each form was designed to be printed from your local system. Complete the appropriate form and return it to the Library.

If you have questions about placing an order or requesting permission to reproduce materials, please contact the Library.

The California State Railroad Museum Library reserves the right to restrict reproduction of rare, fragile, copyright, valuable or proprietary items.

Please complete the appropriate Library reproduction request form. Web forms may be printed from your system, completed and mailed to the Library.

There are limits to the number of items which can be reproduced from a single order. These are:

  • Small document reproduction order: 25 sheets per order
  • Large document reproduction order: 10 documents per order
  • Photographic reproduction order: 25 images per order.
Requests for extensive reproduction will be arranged on a case-by-case basis. The Library does not reproduce complete collections or “entire” books. Copyright restrictions apply in all cases. See copyright warning notice below.

Most oversize documents copy as black-line on white paper. Documents in excess of 36 inches wide or fragile originals may have to be copied photographically. Fees for those services will be determined on an item-by-item basis.

Prepayment is required. Please make checks payable to “CSRM Foundation.” Should restrictions apply or corrections to your payment be necessary, the Library staff will notify you prior to processing your order.

Please allow at least three weeks for the completion and shipment of your order. The Library cannot fill “rush” orders.
Photocopies are made available solely for the reference use of the applicant. Duplication of such copies is not permitted. Photocopies of manuscript materials remain the property of the California State Railroad Museum Library. They are not to be deposited in other institutions and are to be returned to the Library when no longer needed by the applicant.

In making copies of published materials, the California State Railroad Museum does not thereby grant permission to reproduce or quote for publication. The applicant assumes full responsibility for any infringement of copyright or publication rights belonging to the author, his heirs, or assigns.

Permission to publish manuscript materials from the California State Railroad Museum collection or to reproduce their contents in any form requires advance written approval from both the owner of the copyright and the Director of Collections of the California State Railroad Museum. Credit to the California State Railroad Museum Library, and if applicable, to the separate collection from which the manuscript materials were selected, is appreciated. See Application for Permission to Reproduce Pictorial or Documentary Materials form.
The Museum retains all copy negatives. Prints are made on RC glossy paper. Standard scans are 300 dpi at 8“x10” saved as tiff files on archival CDs. The fees noted are for copies from originals of average quality, reproducible by standard photographic techniques. Work requiring additional labor because of size, fragility, or other reasons, will be considered a custom order and charged accordingly. Color prints, microfilm, and other reproduction services are available on a custom order basis. Please inquire about fees.

Permission to utilize reproductions of materials in the California State Railroad Museum’s collections for other than reference purposes requires written approval from the Director of Collections of the California State Railroad Museum, and, if applicable, the copyright owner. Permission must be secured in advance of any publication, commercial display, or other non-reference use. See Application for Permission to Reproduce Pictorial or Documentary Materials form. A per-image use fee may be charged in addition to the cost of a reference print.

The applicant assumes full responsibility for any infringement of copyright, or publication rights belonging to the author, his successors, heirs, or assigns.
Order copies from books, magazines and manuscript collections, as well as maps and drawings. For instructions and guidelines for reproduction orders, see below.

Order black and white prints, color prints, scans, videocassettes, electronic and other audio-visual formats. For instructions and guidelines for reproduction orders, see below.

The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted materials.

Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a photocopy or other reproduction. One of these specified conditions is that the photocopy or reproduction is not to used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research. If a user makes a request for, or later uses, a photocopy or reproduction for purposes in excess of fair use, that user may be liable for copyright infringement.

This institution reserves the right to refuse to accept a copying order if, in its judgment, fulfillment of the order would involve violation of copyright law.
These fees include California state sales tax (8.75%). All fees are payable in U.S. funds. Check payable to “CSRM Foundation.”

Delivery fees are in addition to the reproduction fees. These fees vary according to format.

Small Documents

Reproduction Fees
Printed materials, photographs, manuscript materials:
  • .40 per sheet (8 1/2” x 11”)
  • .65 per sheet (11” x 17”)
  • Paper and digital copies are the same price.
  • Delivery Fees
  • $2.50 minimum or 15% of the reproduction fee.

  • Digital
  • $12.50 for electronic delivery

  • Large Documents

    Documents that cannot be reproduced in-house are sent to a local vendor for reproduction.
    Reproduction Fees
  • $2.00 per sheet (<11" x 17") in-house
  • $6.25 per sheet (up to 36” wide)
  • $12.50 per sheet (37” – 72” wide)
  • $18.75 per sheet ( >72” wide)

  • Digital
  • $6.25 per sheet
  • Delivery Fees
  • $15.60 via UPS (rolled)
  • $5.00 via USPS (folded)
  • As the final shipping fee is based on weight and destination, there many be additional fees.

  • Digital
  • $30.00 delivery on a CD
  • $12.50 electronic delivery

  • Black and White Photographs

    Reproduction Fees
  • $15.00 5" x 7" print from CSRM negative
  • $22.50 8" x 10" print from CSRM negative

  • Digital
  • $18.75 standard tiff scan from CSRM negative
  • If no CSRM negative is available, add $15.00 for copy negative.
  • Delivery Fees
  • $5.00 for each $50.00 of order ($1-49 = $5.00 P&H; $50-99 = $10.00 P&H; $100-199 = $15.00 P&H, etc.
  • Federal Express or other courier services are available at the patron's expense.
  • For shipment of orders to addresses.

  • Digital
  • $15.60 digital processing fee (includes electronic delivery)
  • Optional extra $6.25 to deliver via CD
  • Other Resources

    The Library staff may refer patrons to other institutions or organizations for assistance. Some of those we most frequently refer researchers to are listed below by state and then by city. Nearly all have a web site which may include additional information about each collection, contact information, as well as links to other helpful sites. For some we have indicated a collection of particular interest. Although we attempt to keep this data current, please alert the Library to errors.

    Research Institutions

    The Bancroft Library
    University of California
    Berkeley 94720-6000
    Melvyl (UC Libraries catalog), Online Archive of California, California Heritage Collection

    Harmer E. Davis
    Transportation Library Institute of Transportation Studies
    University of California
    412 McLaughlin Hall, MC 1720
    Berkeley 94720

    National Archives and Records Administration
    24000 Avila Road / P.O. Box 6719 92607-6719
    Laguna Niguel 92677-3497

    Autry Museum of Western Heritage
    Research Center
    4700 Western Heritage Way
    Los Angeles 90027-1462

    Oakland Museum of California
    History Department
    1000 Oak Street
    Oakland 94607
    Andrew Joseph Russell Photograph Collection

    California State Archives
    1020 O Street
    Sacramento, CA 95814

    California State Library
    California Section
    900 N Street, Room 200 / P.O. Box 942837 94237-0001
    Sacramento, CA 95814-0001

    Sacramento Archives and Museum Collection Center
    City of Sacramento
    551 Sequoia Pacific Blvd.
    Sacramento, CA 95814-0229

    Sacramento Public Library
    Sacramento Room
    828 I Street
    Sacramento, CA 95814

    National Archives and Records Administration
    Pacific Region (San Francisco)
    1000 Commodore Drive
    San Bruno, CA 94066-2350

    San Diego Railroad Museum
    1050 Kettner Blvd. No.5
    San Diego, CA 92101-3339

    California Historical Society Library
    678 Mission St.
    San Francisco, CA 94105

    National Maritime Museum
    J. Porter Shaw Library
    Fort Mason Center, Building E
    San Francisco, CA 94123

    San Francisco Municipal Railway Library
    949 Presidio Avenue, Room 204
    San Francisco, CA 94115

    Huntington Library
    1151 Oxford Road
    San Marino, CA 91108

    Stanford University Library
    Department of Special Collections
    Green Library
    557 Escondido Mall
    Stanford, CA 94305
    Baldwin Locomotive Works records

    Bay Area Electric Railroad Association
    Western Railway Museum
    5848 State Highway 12
    Suisun City, CA 94585-9741

    California Department of Parks and Recreation
    2517 Port Street
    West Sacramento, CA 95691
    916-324-7001 / 324-6953
    E-Mail: [email protected]
    Denver Public Library
    10 West 14th Avenue Parkway
    Denver, CO 80204

    Colorado Railroad Museum
    17155 West 44th Avenue / P.O. Box 10 80403-1621
    Golden, CO 80402
    Hagley Museum and Library
    P.O. Box 3630
    Wilmington, DE 19807-0630
    Association of American Railroads
    Information Resource Center
    50 F Street, N.W., Room 5800
    Washington, DC 20001-1564

    National Museum of American History
    Division of History of Technology
    Smithsonian Institution
    Washington, DC 20560
    U.S. Railroad Retirement Board
    Office of Public Affairs
    844 North Rush Street
    Chicago, IL 60611-2092

    Illinois Railway Museum
    P.O. Box 427
    Union, IL 60180
    Pullman Company records
    Indiana Historical Society
    William Henry Smith Memorial Library
    Midwest Railroad Research Center
    450 West Ohio Street
    Indianapolis, IN 46202-3269
    Kansas State Historical Society
    6425 SW Sixth Avenue
    Topeka, KS 66615-1099
    Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway records
    John W. Barriger III National Railroad Library, St. Louis Mercantile Library
    Association at the University of Missouri, St. Louis
    Thomas Jefferson Library Building
    8001 Natural Bridge Road
    St. Louis, MO 63121-4499
    Union Pacific Collection at the Durham Western Heritage Museum
    801 South Tenth Street
    Omaha, NE 68108
    402-271-3305 / 444-5071
    Union Pacific Railroad and Southern Pacific Railroad records
    Nevada State Railroad Museum
    2180 South Carson Street
    Carson City, NV 89701-5552
    Allen County Historical Society
    20 West Market Street
    Lima, OH 45801
    Lima Locomotive Works records
    National Railway Historical Society
    100 North 17th Street / P.O. Box 58547 19102-8547
    Philadelphia, PA 19103

    Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania
    Route 741, 300 Gap Road / P.O. Box 15
    Strasburg, PA 17579
    National Model Railroad Association
    A. C. Kalmbach Memorial Library
    4121 Cromwell Road
    Chattanooga, TN 37421-2119
    DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University
    P.O. Box 750396
    Dallas, TX 75275-0396
    Baldwin Locomotive Works records

    Railroad Historical Societies

    Central Pacific Railroad Photographic History Museum

    Northwestern Pacific Railroad Historical Society

    Santa Fe Railway Historical & Technical Society

    Southern Pacific Historical & Technical Society

    Union Pacific Historical Society

    Western Pacific Railroad Historical Society