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This guide represents a selection of resources available through Northwestern University's Transportation Library. It is not intended to be all-inclusive, but a starting point in helping to guide your research. Please contact a librarian for additional assistance or inquiries about collections, items, or subjects.
Northwestern University Transportation Center (NUTC) is a leading interdisciplinary education and research institution serving industry, government, and the public with substantive and enduring contributions to the movement of materials, people, energy, and information.
Explore artifacts and stories about Transportation, Agriculture and the Environment, Design and Making, Power and Energy, Communications and Information Technology, Mobility and Society and Social Transformation.
The John W. Barriger III National Railroad Library is one of North America’s largest and finest railroad history collections. The library is a major resource for the history of railroad business and technology as well as for the study of railroading’s multidimensional influence on the American economy, society and culture.
London Transport Museum explores the story of London and its transport system over the last 200 years, highlighting the powerful link between transport and the growth of modern London, culture and society since 1800.
The National Cycle Archive sees its primary aim as the preservation of records relating to cycles and cycling. The National Cycle Archive houses its archive collections at the Modern Records Centre, University of Warwick Library.
The Revs Institute has an extensive Special Collections library and archive of automotive history materials. The Revs Institute® library consists of over one million images (over 600,000 of which are online), research books, ephemera, and specialized documents including items from the Collier Collection™. All items are searchable via WorldCat, and the Institute has produced several online exhibits.
Search the Smithsonian Institution Archives’ collections, which contain the official records of the Smithsonian, as well as personal papers, special collections, records of professional societies, and oral/video histories relating to the history of the Smithsonian.
Explore Chicago Collections lets researchers, teachers and students search many locations at once. A unified search lets you locate thousands of archival collections and digital images at member institutions all over the Chicago area including the Chicago Public Library, University of Illinois at Chicago, and the University of Chicago.
CHM’s mission—to share Chicago’s stories, serving as a hub of scholarship and learning, inspiration, and civic engagement—is the foundation of the Museum’s programs and events, exhibitions, educational initiatives, publications, and collecting activities that touch the lives of all Chicagoans and help them make meaningful and personal connections to history.
A world-renowned independent research library in Chicago, the Newberry offers readers an extensive noncirculating collection of rare books, maps, music, manuscripts, and other printed material spanning six centuries. Its staff provides award-winning service and supports a rich array of programmatic opportunities.
The Ryerson & Burnham Libraries constitute a major art and architecture research collection serving The Art Institute of Chicago and scholars in the fields of art and architectural history with more than 500,000 print titles, 100,000 auction catalogs, 1,200 current serial subscriptions, and extensive digital collections.
The David Toms Collection consists of 1,059 transportation-related items from 123 airlines and cruise lines. The collection primarily consists of airline menus and safety cards, with a strong secondary component of airline-related ephemera and cruise ship menus. Items in the collection are in 27 languages; most items are in two or more languages. Materials in the collection range from the 1950s to the early 2000s.
The David V. Woolf Bus and Train Collection consists of 154 transportation-related postcards primarily related to buses and bus lines. The collection ranges in publication date from the 1950s to the early 200s. Text on the postcards is primarily in English; Dutch, French, and German are also representated. The collection measures .5 linear feet in one box.
The Gary Gelzer Transportation Collection consists of 454 postcards, timetables, menus, and other materials related to 20th-century railroads, ships, ocean liners, and other modes of transportation. The bulk of the collection (312 items) consists of offset lithographic printed postcards.
The George M. Foster Timetable Collection is a companion to the Transportation Library Menu Collection. It provides contextual depth for that collection, as many of the timetables include Foster's notes as to flight date and time, and can be matched to his annotated menus. The collection consists of 1766 timetables issued between 1929 and 1991. There are 1695 airline, 56 railroad, and 15 ship and ferry timetables. The collection is international in scope, reflecting the scope of Foster's many years of travel.
The Transportation Library's collection of H. H. Copeland and Son's maps consist of 74 maps and tables on U. S. railways dating from the early 1930s to the mid 1950s. The Copeland maps consist of traffic density maps and tables on ton miles, freight density and traffic distribution and other railway related tables and calculations.
The collection consists of 78 brochures used to advertise recreational cruises, primarily those on the Great Lakes. Companies operating out of Chicago, Illinois are substantially represented in the collection. Materials in the collection are in English. Dates range from 1890 to 1972.
The Ira Silverman Railroad Menu Collection consists of 238 items: 227 menus and eleven pamphlets. 35 United States and Canadian railroads are represented in the collection. All menus were issued by their respective railroad. Dates range from 1943-1993.
This collection consists of 919 rail and bus timetables from the United States and Canada collected by Mr. John A. Swider, of Mount Prospect, Illinois. The collection comprises timetables issued 1880 through 2006, with the majority dating from the 1930s through the 1990s. It includes timetables focused on the Chicago metropolitan area, and on travel to the San Francisco, Chicago, and New York World’s Fairs.
The Lawrence M. Nagin Airline Menu and Memorabilia Collection is a collection of transportation materials centered on the aviation industry of the late 20th century. The collection includes a large component of materials from the travels of Nagin and his wife, Sherrie Nagin.
Leigh Fisher (1922-1982) was an airport consultant and founder of Leigh Fisher Associates (LFA) who advised on the design and construction of airports throughout the second half of the 20th century. He participated in the design and construction of Chicago O'Hare International Airport from the airport lease negotiations in 1959 to participation as a member of the Chicago Airlines Top Committee, a small working group of airline companies and consultants who worked on the execution of design details of the construction of the airport, from 1959-1963. The collection consists of 22 memoranda.
The Ronald J. Sullivan Photograph Collection is an extensive collection of photographs and slides of public and commercial buses and public transit and commuter trains taken by Ronald J. Sullivan, an amateur photographer. The majority of the photographs were taken in Chicago and the surrounding area, with a few in other cities and international locations.
Stephen P. James (1893-1971) was an early pioneer in highway safety development and education. This collection covers his and his colleagues' work from 1920 to 1969, including the organization and management of essay contests, supporting research programs at universities, and the planning and construction of the Pan American Highway.
The Transportation Photograph Collection of the Northwestern University Transportation Library consists of 217 photographic prints in six bound volumes. The photographs are uncommon illustrations of automotive and maritime transportation spanning from the early to mid-20th century.
The William Luke Photograph Collection is a collection of photographs of buses from at least 60 countries. Each photograph is annotated by William Luke. The dates of publication of the photographs range from 1880 to 2010, and the majority of the photographs were published between 1980 and 1999.
The William Luke Transportation Collection consists of 6,252 local transit maps, time tables, transit tickets, postcards and other materials from 98 countries and 38 US states. The maps and timetables were produced primarily for use by tourists. The collection is in 34 languages; many have captions and other text in multiple languages. Materials in the collection range in publication date from 1935 to 2012, with the majority of the collection dating from the late 20th century. Additionally, the collection contains one file of correspondence from the donor.
The William R. Hough Timetables Collection consists of 812 timetables issued between 1907 and 2016. There are 753 railroad, 20 ship, 9 bus, and 3 airline timetables. The collection is primarily North American in scope, while also including some European and Australian content.
The Atlas of Freight Facilities, published in 1971, mapped the locations of gas pipelines, petroleum pipelines, electric transmission, motor freight, rail freight, waterborne freight, air freight and other terminals in the Chicago region based on data obtained by the Chicago Area Transportation Study.
Comprising material from 1927 through 1998, the Chicago O’Hare International Airport Digital Collection includes studies, annual reports, statistics, plans, and other information covering the operations of the airport and its transit connections to the region produced by the City of Chicago and other organizations.
The major transportation agencies of the Chicago region: Pace, RTA, and CTA are represented through annual reports, planning documents, surveys, and other studies in this collection of digitized materials, dating back to 1945.
May 1, 1971 marked the beginning of Amtrak service. The intercity passenger rail market in the United States – which, at that point, was served by some two dozen privately-owned companies – was in rapid decline, with dwindling ridership numbers and deteriorating equipment and infrastructure. Amtrak was created with the Rail Passenger Service Act of 1970, consolidating and restructuring intercity passenger rail service under a quasi-public corporation in an effort to retain passenger rail as part of a balanced transportation system for the United States.
Longer than the Wright brothers’ first flight, wider than a boulevard, and with a tail height as tall as a six-story building, the 747 was a revolution in aviation technology and the passenger experience when it entered service on January 22, 1970. With the first flight from New York to London, Pan Am’s Clipper Young America ushered in the jet age’s second phase: the era of wide body aircraft.
As nations throughout Africa attained their independence in the 1960s and surrounding decades, the establishment of national airlines soon followed. These airlines served important functions in connecting regions underserved by rail and road infrastructure. Equally as important, they served as symbols of national identity, economic expansion, modernity, and technological advancement. This exhibit looks at the history of African airlines through materials from the collections of the Transportation Library and the Herskovits Library of African Studies at Northwestern University.
This exhibit draws from the special and circulating collections at Northwestern University’s Transportation Library to highlight examples of branding and graphic design in the form of passenger ephemera such as menus, timetables, and ticket envelopes, as well as through the library’s extensive collection of annual reports.
In the spring of 1915, tree travelers departed Iowa in a Model T for a journey to the Panama Pacific International Exhibition in San Francisco. Follow their journey along the Lincoln Highway, through the lens of a photo album documenting their trip, in the online exhibit Lovers of the Open Road and the Flying Wheel.
As it is today, the bicycle at the turn of the 20th century was a form of transportation, recreation, amusement, and a creator of community. The online exhibit Bicycles on Paper looks at bicycles in all of these forms through printed matter in the collection of Northwestern University’s Transportation Library.
On March 23, 1963, President John F. Kennedy officially dedicated O'Hare International Airport. Fifty years later, our beloved O'Hare is still going strong and has become a city and national transportation icon.
Follow transportationlibrary on Instagram for a daily dose of transportation history from our special collections.
The Transportation Library supports the students and faculty of the Transportation Center and the Center for Public Safety. Containing more than 500,000 items, we are one of the largest transportation information centers in the world, encompassing information on all modes of transportation including air, rail, highway, pipeline, water, urban transport, and logistics.
Reference staff are available Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Transportation Library staff is here to serve the information needs of the Northwestern University community with individual research appointments and user education for classes. Contact us to schedule an appointment.
Provides full-text PDF articles from several major U.S. newspapers, including the New York Times (1851-2013), Wall Street Journal (1889-2000), Washington Post (1877-2000), Los Angeles Times (1881-2012), Chicago Tribune (1849-2011), Chicago Defender (1909-2010), New York Amsterdam News (1922-1993), Boston Globe (1872-1985), and many others.
Digitized, full-text versions of core scholarly journals across disciplines.While coverage of these journals goes back to the first issue, for most journals the most recent issues will be for 3-5 years ago.
America: History & Life is an index of literature covering the history and culture of the United States and Canada, from prehistory to the present. The database indexes journals from 1964 to the present and also includes citations and links to book and media reviews. Strong English-language journal coverage but also included are abstracts in English of articles published in more than 40 languages.
This multidisciplinary database provides access to articles from journals, magazines, and reference sources across all subject areas. Coverage is primarily from 1980 to the present, with some older content.
Wiley Digital Archives is a continuous program of new databases comprised of unique or rare historical primary sources, digitized from leading societies, libraries, and archives around the world, and made accessible in ways that tie directly to research outcomes and educational goals. All Archives are cross-searchable, and contain tools for searching, browsing, analyzing and visualizing primary source content.
Cross searchable database of Wiley Digital Archive collections: Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland Archives; Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers) Archives; New York Academy of Sciences Archives; Royal College of Physicians Archive.