Research and Access:
Hays T. Watkins Research Library
The Hays T. Watkins Research Library was established in 1991 as part of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum, Inc. It is named for former Chessie System and CSX Chairman, Hays T. Watkins. Mr. Watkins, Chairman Emeritus of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum, oversaw the museum's transition to a nonprofit institution.
The Hays T. Watkins Research Library is dedicated to the history and preservation of American railroading, emphasizing the legacy of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad and other significant railroads located in Maryland such as the Western Maryland Railway, the Chessie System, and CSX Transportation.
The bulk of the research library holdings document the history of the B&O Railroad from its beginnings in 1827 to the 1970s and place the history of the B&O in the broad context of the social, cultural, political, and economic trends in America.
The archives holdings include: B&O Railroad corporate records such as the Directors Minute Books, 1827-1927; corporate documents; manuscript collections; maps; mechanical and engineering drawings; ephemera; B&O payroll files dating 1905-1971; and motion picture films.
The library contains over 5,000 books, periodicals and trade publications relating to all aspects of railroading and significant documents include the papers of early presidents, Philip Thomas and John Work Garrett, which provide substantial information concerning the early years of the railroad.
The library's image collection includes over 100,000 still images and photographic prints, slides, transparencies, and glass plate and film negatives, as well as lithographs, paintings and other fine art.
Conducting Research: Getting Started
Prior to conducting primary source research at an archive, researchers should conduct as much secondary source research as possible. This allows the researcher to better understand their topic and what has already been written or published. Many simple questions relating to the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad may be answered by consulting published books on the history of the railroad and/or American railroading.
The following books are available at many bookstores and the museum’s online store. In addition, researchers may make an appointment to use these books at the Hays T. Watkins Research Library.
General Histories of the B&O
The History of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad by John Stover
Impossible Challenge by Herbert Harwood
Early History of the B&O
The B&O in the Civil War by Festus Summers
The Great Road by James Dilts
A Journey from Roads to Rails by David Shackelford
History and information on the B&O Railroad Museum:
The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum: The Birthplace of American Railroading by Courtney Wilson
Mt. Clare: The Birthplace of American Railroading by Courtney Wilson
In addition to published sources, the Internet can provide an excellent place to perform preliminary research before consulting an archive. Try using search engines like www.google.com to find basic information about a railroad topic before consulting primary sources in an archive. After you have performed preliminary research using secondary sources and the Internet, you will be better equipped to research in an archive.
Getting Started at the Hays T. Watkins Research Library
The Hays T. Watkins Research Library contains a variety of materials of interest to railroad history researchers. To begin your research, ask yourself the following questions:
What information or answers do I want to find?
What are my research questions?
What do I already know about this topic?
What type of materials could I possibly find the answers to my questions?
ex. Annual reports, photographs, published books, nineteenth-century periodicals, employee job records, etc. (a description of available resources are listed at the bottom of this page).
Procedures for Conducting Research & Making Appointments
Individuals may conduct research at the HTWRL in two ways.
- Researchers may make an appointment to perform the research themselves onsite OR
- Researchers may submit a research request via mail, email, or fax for archival staff to perform and return the results.
There are fees for both research methods and for the use of the HTWRL and reproduction of its items – see the Fee Schedule. All researchers must also complete the Research Registration Form.
Instructions to Make an Appointment
- Review the HTWRL Fee Schedule and Hours of Operation
- Complete the Research Registration Form
- Contact and send the completed Research Registration Form to the HTWRL with a request to schedule an appointment. Appointments must be made at least one (1) week in advance. The HTWRL is located on the second floor of the museum. Please notify us if you need any special accommodations.
Instructions to Submit a Research Request
- Review the HTWRL Fee Schedule
- Complete the Research Registration Form
- Submit your completed form to the HTWRL with payment. Due to the volume of requests and staffing, please allow 4-6 weeks for the request to be completed.
To Contact the HTWRL Library
Mail: B&O Railroad Museum
ATTN: Hays T. Watkins Research Library & Archives
901 West Pratt Street
Baltimore, MD 21223
Phone: 410-752-2490 ext. 224
Fax: 410-752-2499 ATTN: Library & Archives
Descriptions of Available Research Materials
Rare and Published Books
The HTWRL contains over 5,000 published books pertaining to the railroad industry, many of which are rare and/or out of print. This collection is a good place to start when beginning research. Notable subjects include histories of various railroad companies across the nation and world; biographies and autobiographies of individuals who influenced the railroad industry; histories about the railroad industry’s involvement with warfare and military engagements; manuals and instructional textbooks about the business of railroading from the early twentieth century; manuals and instructional textbooks about technological aspects of railroading; locomotive and car builder cyclopedias; published locomotive rosters and books about different locomotive types; books about railroad stations; books about freight services; books about passenger services and travel; general histories of Maryland, Baltimore, and other local areas; histories about streetcars; books about locomotive technology and evolution; guides to collecting railroad memorabilia; and various other vintage railroad “coffee table” and photo books. The book collection is cataloged. Access to the book catalog is available by making an appointment or through the assistance of archival staff.
Periodicals & Magazines
The HTWRL periodical collection contains roughly 220 titles which span from the mid-nineteenth century to the present day. The information contained in these periodicals documents the various aspects of railroading including industry publications, journals, railroad employee magazines, and other publications created by railroads and historical societies. This collection is a good place to start when beginning research and indexes are available for many of the titles. Notable titles include the B&O Railroad Employees Magazine, The Book of the Royal Blue, The American Railroad Journal, The Railroad Gazette, Poor’s Manual of Railroads, and Railroad History. A finding aid for the Periodical Collection is available online on the Finding Aids webpage.
The HTWRL recently began compiling subject files for frequent or relevant topics and subjects. Items in these files range from printed materials, results of internet searches, bibliographies, or other references to helpful sources of information. These files are a good place to start when beginning research. Access to the subject file finding aid is available by making an appointment or through the assistance of archival staff.
The HTWRL’s object files are files which relate to the museum’s locomotive, rolling stock, and large equipment historic collection. These files contain information regarding the history and conservation of locomotives and rolling stock in the museum’s collection. Access to the object files is available by making an appointment or through the assistance of archival staff.
The HTWRL’s processed photograph collection is divided into two main collections: P1 General Photograph Collection and P2 Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) Photograph Collection. P1 General Photograph Collection is the largest collection. It contains mainly black and white photographs from the mid-nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth century. The bulk of the photographs in this collection were taken or collected by the Public Relations Department of the B&O Railroad. The P2 ICC Photograph Collection contains almost 5,000 valuation photographs, most of which are negatives. The photographs display detailed views of various valuation sections on B&O Railroad property from 1915-1930. Detailed finding aids for the P1 and P2 collections are available online on the Finding Aids webpage.
The HTWRL’s ephemera collection consists of printed documents created for a specific, limited purpose and generally designed to be discarded after use. Items which are considered part of the ephemera collection include tickets, timetables, stock certificates, bills of lading, menus, leaflets, waybills, employee passes, postcards, etc. The ephemera collection is partially processed and cataloged, but access to the catalog at this time is available by making an appointment or through the assistance of archival staff.
Employee Records & Genealogical Research
The HTWRL contains records that may be of interest to genealogists and researchers looking for more information about specific individuals who worked for the B&O Railroad. For more information about Employment Records visit the Employee Record Request webpage.
Maps, Drawings, Artwork
The HTWRL contains various maps, drawings, artwork, lithographs, and other graphic-type materials relating mostly to the B&O and C&O. This portion of the collection is partially processed. Access to some of these materials may be restricted depending on their processing status.
The CSX Collection
The CSX Collection consists of minute books, annual reports, and other business records of the B&O Railroad, C&O Railway, Western Maryland Railway, and other subsidiary companies of CSX Transportation. A basic inventory of for the CSX Collection has been compiled and is available online on the Finding Aids webpage.
The Garrett Papers
The “Garrett Papers collection is the partial archives of the B&O for the years 1859-1880. It is the records of the President’s Office (the President during this period was John Work Garrett 1858-1884). The types of material included are letters, receipts, reports, and memoranda. A basic inventory of the Garrett Papers collection is available by making an appointment or through the assistance of archival staff.
While the Hays T. Watkins Research Library contains information useful to researchers, it is not the only place to find railroad history information. For further research on the B&O Railroad, Chesapeake & Ohio Railway, Western Maryland Railway, and other mid-Atlantic lines, you may wish to contact the following historical societies:
For research on other major railroads, you may wish to contact the following museums and historical societies:
- Altoona Railroaders Memorial Museum
1300 Ninth Ave.
Altoona, PA 16602
Phone: (814) 946-0834
- Amtrak Historical Society
1579 N. Milwaukee Ave., Ste. 350
Chicago, IL 60622
- California State Railroad Museum
111 "I" Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 445-7387
- Chicago & North Western Historical Society
P.O. Box 1270
Sheboygan, WI 53082-1230
- Colorado Railroad Museum
17155 W. 44th Ave.
Golden, CO 80402
Phone: (303) 279-4591
- Conrail Historical Society
P.O. Box 38
Walnutport, PA 18088-0038
- Erie Lackawanna Historical Society
1 La Malfa Rd.
Randolph, NJ 07869
- Illinois Central Railroad Historical Society
PO Box 288
Paxton, IL 60957
- Illinois Railway Museum
P.O. Box 427
Union, IL 60180
Phone: (815) 923-4391
- Monon Railroad Historical and Technical Society
P.O. Box 68
Ladoga, IN 47954-0068
- Museum of America's Freedom Trains
27144 Twenty Mule Team Rd.
Boron, CA 93516
- Museum of Transportation
3015 Barrett Station Rd.
St. Louis, MO 63122
Phone: (314) 965-7998
- National New York Central Railroad Museum
P.O. Box 1708
721 S. Main Street
Elkhart, IN 46515
Phone: (219) 294-3001
- National Railroad Museum
2285 S. Broadway
Green Bay, WI 54304-4832
Phone: (920) 437-7623
- National Railway Historical Society
P.O. Box 58547
Philadelphia, PA 19102-8547
- Nevada State Railroad Museum
2180 S. Carson St.
Carson City, NV 89701
Phone: (702) 687-6953
- New York Central System Historical Society
P.O. Box 81184
Cleveland, OH 44181-0184
- North Carolina Transportation Museum
P.O. Box 44
411 South Salisbury Ave.
Spencer, NC 28159
Phone: (704) 636-2889
- Pennsylvania Railroad Technical and Historical Society
P.O. Box 712
Altoona, PA 16603-0712
- Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania
P.O. Box 15
Strasburg, PA 17579
Phone: (717) 687-8629
- The Rio Grande Modeling & Historical Society
Santa Fe Ry. Historical and Modeling Society
P.O. Box 94
Derby, KS 67037
- Southern Pacific Historical and Technical Society
P.O. Box 93697
Pasadena, CA 91109-3697
- Southern Railway Historical Society
P.O. Box 204094
Augusta, GA 30917-4094
- Steamtown National Historic Site
150 S. Washington Ave.
Scranton, PA 18503
Phone: (717) 340-5200
- Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum
4119 Cromwell Rd.
Chattanooga, TN 37421
Phone: (423) 894-8028
- Union Pacific Historical Society
P.O. Box 4006
Cheyenne, WY 82003-4006
- Virginia Museum of Transportation
303 Norfolk Ave. S.W.
Roanoke, VA 24016
Phone: (540) 342-5670