Guide to the Research Collections



Responsibility for the subject of transportation--which is collected comprehensively--is shared primarily by the Science and Technology Research Center and the Economic and Public Affairs Division. There is a particularly strong collection of periodicals and related government publications from most countries; the total book resources number approximately 115,600 items. These are supplemented by index entries in the catalogs for periodical articles; this practice is at present limited to those periodicals not included in the standard commercial indexes. A collection of pictorial material on transportation is mounted in scrapbooks in the Science and Technology Research Center; reference should also be made to the resources of prints, photographs, drawings, and other pictorial materials in various locations in the Research Libraries. Under the broad heading of transportation, railways are perhaps the category most fully covered.


Bicycles are adequately covered as a subject, with emphasis on periodicals. There is also material on motorcycles and motorcycle racing. An extensive collection on bicycling made by Luther H. Porter was given to the library by the Newark Public Library in 1924.


The resources on the automobile include an extensive collection of manufacturers' catalogs and price lists numbering in excess of 8,000 pieces, and covering the first three decades of this century. Most American and many foreign makes are represented. This archive is in the Science and Technology Research Center; a listing of available materials is held at the center's inquiry desk. The tremendous proliferation of these catalogs after the 1930s precluded further acquisition by the center, which now relies upon commercial publications and manuals to furnish required information. Resources for the study of the technological aspects of the automobile are further discussed in the mechanical engineering section of chapter 57 of this Guide.


Numbering over 50,000 volumes, this subject is one of the rich resources of the library with good world coverage and considerable depth. Particular emphasis has been placed upon the great age of the railroads in the United States from their beginnings to the end of World War I.1 The preponderance of material is in the general collections, with some technical works in the Science and Technology Research Center.

Railroads are a subject long of interest to the library. Some materials came to the library with the Tilden collection; in 1906 Dr. Billings reported that the library was strong in official statistical reports in this field. Gifts of materials from the various railroad companies and from private individuals have enriched the holdings. The Parsons collection in the Science and Technology Research Center contains railroad materials including a set of early Bradshaws.2 The William John Wilgus collection is made up of books, scrapbooks, and other material on engineering subjects including transportation; it is housed in the Science and Technology Research Center.3 The papers of Bion J. Arnold, William Barclay Parsons, Frank Julian Sprague, Timothy Shaler Williams, and others in the Manuscripts and Archives Division include documentation on the AEF Transportation Corps in World War I, the New York Central Railroad, the Rapid Transit Commission in New York City, the electric trolley, the electrification of railroads, and other related subjects. The papers of Robert Brewster Stanton consist in part of his survey of the Grand Canyon made for the Denver, Colorado Ca&macron; and Pacific Railroad from 1889 to 1890.4

Serial publications on railroads are strong, with substantial if not complete files of important journals from many countries, and good historical coverage. There are such titles as Zeitschrift für Eisenbahnen und Dampfschiffahrt der österreichisch-ungarischen Monarchie (1888-97), the French Journal des chemins des fers (1842-1940)

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and Chemins de fer (1951-); the German Organ für die Fortschritte des Eisenbahnwesens (1846-1944) and ETR; Eisenbahntechnische Rundschau (1952-); the British Railway Times (1838-1914) and Railway Gazette (1906-); and the American Railway Review (1859-62) and Railway Age Gazette (1870-); as well as others which commenced in the 1870s and 1880s. Other short files of periodicals that appeared in earlier decades beginning with the 1840s are also present. Another type of administrative and technical serial publications, the proceedings of unions, associations, congresses, etc., is very well represented, as are railway employees' magazines. The official publications of federal, state, and municipal governments also constitute a strong feature. The file of the Official Guide of the Railways and Steam Navigation Lines of the United States, Porto Rico and Mexico and Cuba is virtually complete. Annual reports of railroad companies, especially those in the United States, are noteworthy if not always complete. Since 1956 the Economic and Public Affairs Division has made available on opaque microforms the annual reports of those railroad companies whose stocks are listed on the major American and Canadian exchanges.

All aspects of the railroad, including the financial and technical, are covered in the library's holdings. Headings in the Public Catalog range from "Railways--Abandonment--U.S." to "Railways--Yearbooks." The resources for electric railways include contract specifications for construction for the New York City Transportation Board. A splendid exhibition mounted by the Science and Technology Research Center in 1967, entitled "The Rise and Fall of the Elevated Railroad 1867-1967," displayed the library's wealth of printed and pictorial resources. In 1968 the donation of the Walter Weichsel transfer collection added an extensive array of bus and streetcar transfers, ferry and toll tickets, passes, etc., for the United States and the larger nations of the world.

One of the most significant aspects of this collection is the vast amount of pamphlet material, much of which might be considered ephemeral. This includes reports of legal cases involving railroads, indentures, mortgages, manuals of operation, promotional and tourist materials, and labor contracts, among other items. The greater part of this material is American, issued prior to World War II.

Merchant Marine

This is a generally strong section. The collection of books and pamphlets is extensive and particularly interesting for its early material. Important features include long files of serial publications, both journals and shipping registers, and a strong representation of government reports on shipping from all parts of the world. The current years of such important registers as Lloyd's Register of Shipping (1842/43-), Bureau veritas (1905-), and Record of the American Bureau of Shipping (1870-) are kept in the Main Reading Room; back issues form part of the general collections. Most of the material is entered in the Public Catalog under the subject heading "Shipping" and its subdivisions.

The Science and Technology Research Center holds technical material on shipbuilding and can provide information on the sources of illustrations of ships and portraits of ships' captains through its Ships Index card file. Related materials appear in various other subject classes in the library, the most important, perhaps, being the rich collection of coast pilots and sailing directions described in chapter 44 of this Guide. Laws and official reports and regulations are supplemented by the strong collections classed with law materials and public documents. Materials classed with nautical art and science are also valuable.

The Manuscripts and Archives Division's Robert Fulton collection contains much material relating to the development of shipping in the United States, as do the papers of American merchants engaged in foreign trade with China and other countries.

Canals and Inland Navigation

The collection is strong and includes a large representation of books and pamphlets of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. An important feature consists of the publications of waterway associations and companies, as well as journals. National and state government reports are held in strength.

The library attempts to cover adequately canals of all countries with emphasis on American canals, particularly the Panama Canal. The more technical aspects of the subject are covered by materials in the Parsons collection in the Science and Technology Research Center, among them eighteenth-and early nineteenth-century works on specific canals in the United States and England,5 and in the Schuyler papers in the Manuscripts and Archives Division which relate to the construction and operation of canals in New York State from 1792 to 1803. The John Bigelow papers in the division deal with the selection of the route for and construction of the Panama Canal. Pictorial material on canals is also available in the I.N. Phelps Stokes collection of American historical prints in the Prints Division.

Various other subject classes supplement the materials specifically devoted to canals, such as the works classed with coast pilots and sailing directions, which include inland waterways; specific public documents; and items dealing with the legal aspects of canal building and operation, classed with materials on law.


Aviation is considered here in both its economic and technical aspects, including the various activities on which flying depends (e.g., maintenance and operation of aircraft and airports), and the field of astronautics. The acquisition policy for this subject, as for other sciences, stresses the development of holdings of basic scholarly texts, serials, and government documents rather than publications of a popular nature. Not actively collected are the near-print publications which characterize certain phases of the literature. The resources are, in general, strong for research in both historical and current topics, with the technical aspects receiving more attention than the economic at the present time. Although it is not possible to estimate the present extent of holdings in all aspects of the field, as early as 1936 the library enumerated 5,574 references

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to books and journal articles in its collections on the history of aeronautics alone.6 In 1967 it was estimated that there were 6,565 volumes on aviation, exclusive of serial items, which in the Science and Technology Research Center are not shelved by subject.

Holdings of bibliographical and other reference tools are strong, including a good group of bilingual and polyglot dictionaries. There is a large collection of serials, both general titles and those specializing in one or more phases of the field; about 700 different files are present, of which the most important are either complete or lack only a few early issues. Included are publications as diverse as Air revue (Brussels), Aviation Week and Space Technology, Canadian Aeronautics and Space Journal, Esso Air World, Journal of the Royal Aeronautical Society, New Zealand Aviation, and Western Aviation, Missiles and Space. The library currently receives about 150 periodicals in the field from many countries.

The library has assembled a strong collection of the publications, both serial and monographic, of federal agencies concerned with aviation, notably the Federal Aviation Agency (and its predecessors), the Civil Aeronautics Board, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. While not all series of technical reports are complete, holdings in most cases encompass a high proportion of the numbers issued. Reports of state aeronautics commissions are available only for some states, chiefly those of the North-east and Middlewest.

Very good holdings on the history of aeronautics include items on balloons and dirigibles as well as heavier-than-air craft, military aviation, individual flights, and jurisprudence. Included are such works as John Wise's A System of Aeronautics (1850), John Jeffries's A Narrative of the Two Aerial Voyages (1786), Barthélemy Faujas de Saint-Fond's Description des expériences de la machine aérostatique de MM. de Montgolfier (1783) and Kratzenstein's L'art de naviguer dans l'air (1784). Of more than 550 publications dealing with the general subject of aeronautics in specific countries, histories tracing national developments form a sizeable group; holdings are substantial for France, Germany, and Great Britain.

There are over 500 entries under the heading "Aeronautics--Ascensions, Flights, etc." in the Public Catalog, many of which relate to such epochal long-distance trips as Amsterdam-Batavia, Cape-Cairo, Rome-Brazil, and round-the-world flights, or have to do with reminiscences of aviation pioneers. There are entries for works by and about the Wright brothers and Santos Dumont, and a wealth of additional biographical material about Amelia Earhart, Hugo Eckener, Charles A. Lindbergh, August Picard, and other figures, both American and foreign. Although the Manuscripts and Archives Division does not house any large collections related to aeronautics, the papers (1913-47) of Major August Post, an early flyer, and the correspondence (1923-27) of Edward P. Warner, a professor of aeronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, provide material of limited scope on the development of aviation.

The library collects comprehensively in the general area of aeronautical engineering. The Public Catalog contains about 600 entries under "Aerodynamics," with additional material appearing under such related headings as "Aerofoils," "Air Flow," "Air Resistance," "Skin Friction (Aerodynamics)," and "Wind Tunnels." There is a large collection of material on the airplane; about 2,700 cards in the Public Catalog represent not only general publications but also those on control, design, maintenance and repair, manufacture, stability, and testing of aircraft. The subdivision "Type" (approximately 200 entries) enables the reader to locate pertinent data on specific kinds of aircraft, for example, the B-29, Caravelle, Comet, DC-3, and Spitfire; the set of Jane's All the World's Aircraft is virtually complete from the first issue in 1909. There are also significant holdings of publications pertaining to instruments, motors (both piston and jet), and construction materials.

About 500 titles in the holdings deal with the construction and operation of airports. In addition to general material are studies and reports of major commercial fields, particularly those serving the New York metropolitan area.

Although the library collects in the field of medicine only on a limited scale, about 100 publications on the medical aspects of aviation have been acquired, including files of two specialized journals, Aerospace Medicine and Revue de médecine aéronautique. There is material on the medical problems of military aviation during World Wars I and II and, more recently, on space medicine. Special publications on flight safety include the reports of the Flight Safety Foundation and the accident reports of the Civil Aeronautics Board and the British Ministry of Aviation.

There is a good working collection on the air transport industry, as indicated by approximately 900 entires in the Public Catalog for "Aeronautics, Commercial." Publications on air transport in individual countries compose about half the material; the remainder centers on such topics as costs, fares, finance, routes, traffic, and operational procedures of airlines. A nearly complete set of the Official Airline Guide (various editions) since 1944 provides the historical timetable information for studies of service and competition. The publications of the Air Transport Association of American and of the International Air Transport Association are available. There is a large block of serial and monographic publications of the International Civil Aviation Organization, although files of its Bulletin, Circular, and Documents are incomplete. The collections contain complete sets of the Report, economic decisions, and various statistical series of carriers' traffic and finance issued by the Civil Aeronautics Board, but the Research Libraries have not collected the briefs and exhibits presented to the board in connection with applications for new routes. Resources on individual airline companies are good for domestic trunk lines and fair for other carriers. Domestic trunk lines and Pan American World Airways are represented by annual reports for recent years (in some cases for a longer period) either as issued or in microform, some labor contracts, and a few company histories, house organs, and miscellaneous publications.

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Relatively little is present for local services, territorial companies, or foreign airlines, with the exception of recent annual reports for Air Canada, Air France, Air India, BOAC, BEA, and KLM. The set of The Airline Pilot, issued by the Airline Pilots Association, International, is complete as is Airways International, issued by the International Federation of Airline Pilots Associations; the journals of pilots' associations in several foreign countries including France, Great Britain, Italy, and Pakistan are available for recent years. Other than publications on passenger service, the collections contain relatively few publications specifically on airmail service (chiefly histories of the service in the United States and in other countries) and on airfreight (much of it on the potential for transporting cargo by air). Most of the material about flight equipment and finances of airlines appears respectively in publications on airplanes and on air transport as an industry in the corporate finance area.

Most of the material on military and naval aviation deals with the United States and Great Britain. It includes histories of the U.S. and Royal Air Forces and publications on the role of the airplane in World Wars I and II, strategic bombing, and the U.S. Military Air Transport Service.

The library currently pursues a policy of extensive acquisition in the field of aeronautics. There is a comprehensive collection of the reports and technical publications of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Full sets of Astronautics and Aerospace Engineering, International Aerospace Abstracts, and other publications of the Institute of the Aeronautical Sciences are present. There are more than 500 entries in the catalog of the Science and Technology Research Center under "Rockets," including publications of the American Rocket Society, the British Interplanetary Society, and the Rocket Research Center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The library currently receives 27 periodicals in the field. This material, and related items under the heading "Satellites, Artificial," provide both English and foreign-language publications on rockets, missiles, and space exploration. In addition, the library collects both popular and scholarly publications on flying saucers. Holdings amount to more than 75 monographs in English and several foreign languages; in this field the library currently subscribes to 14 periodicals from Australia, the Netherlands, and Great Britain as well as from the United States.