Scope and Contents
An extensive and detailed guide to this collection was created by the Division of Transportation, National Museum of American History in 1991 and published by the Smithsonian Institution which is available upon request in the Archives Center. The guide provides a name or number of the locomotive or railroad scene, builder, type, date built, negative number and a brief description or caption for each negative. The collection was also scanned to video disc.
The collection contains approximately 20,000 negatives of railroad-related subjects, with the vast majority of the images being various views of locomotives. Some of the photographs were taken by Mr. Chaney, although a large number are copy negatives made from existing photographs. Many are copies of builders' photographs. The emphasis is on the eastern lines, especially the Pennsylvania Railroad and the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. Besides locomotives, other subjects include freight trains, passenger cars, bridges and tracks, stations, yards, tunnels, shops and engine houses, and train wrecks. The collection is arranged into three series.
Series 1: Negatives, circa 1850-1947, undated, consists primarily of film negatives which are copies from old prints dating from 1850-1900, and the remaining are those taken by Mr. Chaney between 1910-1947. The negatives vary greatly as to composition and quality. There are also one hundred glass plate negatives found among these materials. The negatives are arranged by number and are contained in sixty-eight boxes currently stored in an offsite facility.
Series 2: Microfilm, 1972, consists of thirty two reels of microfilm housed in six boxes. The microfilm reels were created by the Museum in May 1972 and contain approximately 16,156 images from series one. They are arranged in alphabetical order by the name of the railroad line. An index was created for these materials by the Museum.
Series 3: Nitrate Negatives 1850-1947, undated, consists of 11,185 images similar to those in series one. These negatives are contained in eighteen boxes and are stored at an offsite facility. The negatives are arranged by number.