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William A. Swartz collection of locomotive photographs, publications, and records

 Unprocessed — Multiple Containers
Identifier: 20101007

Content Description

The bulk of this collection (about 43 cubic feet) is photographs of trains and locomotives of various railroad companies in the United States in the 19th and 20th century. Photos date from the mid-1800s to mid-1900s with the bulk between 1895 and 1930. The collection also includes railroad publications including periodicals, newsletters, newspaper clippings, railroad timetables, and the Wabash River Basin Study. In addition, included are railroad records containing construction numbers, photograph lists, and locomotive rosters. Two boxes of artifacts are also in the collection. William “Bill” Arthur Swartz was born December 26, 1925, in Peru, Indiana, to William Arthur Swartzwelder (1884 - 1954) and Elizabeth F. Hay (1896 - 1980). His father was the Chief Dispatcher of the C & O (Chesapeake & Ohio Railway) of Indiana, and later the Inspector of Transportation. Swartz enjoyed taking photos of steam engines, in particular, and traveled with a 5x7 Graphamatic Kodak camera. He also played concert organ at a military school in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. Swartz married Erma Lou (1927-1985) and eventually worked for GTE (General Telephone and Electric) in Marion, Ohio. He died on October 21, 1987, in Marion, Ohio and buried with his wife in Mt. Hope Cemetery in Peru, Indiana. Swartz’s will specified that his collection of locomotive photographs was to be donated to the Engineering Library at Purdue University, which indicated reception of these materials in its 1987-88 Annual Report. The collection was transferred by Amanda Gill of the Engineering Library to the Purdue University Archives on February 19, 2011. Notes from this transfer indicate that Purdue received the photographs in the collection while the negatives were donated to another individual or institution. The annual report indicated that Mr. Swartz was a former Purdue student, but alumnus status has not been confirmed.

Acquisition Type



Transferred from the Engineering Library via Amanda Gill.

Restrictions Apply



  • circa 1800s - 1980s
  • Majority of material found within 1930s - 1960s


53.00 Cubic Feet (Received Extent)

57.167 Cubic Feet (71 containers)


A link to a more detailed inventory can be found in the "Links" section below. Boxes 1 - 16 contain publications, including periodicals, newspaper clippings, railroad timetables, and the Wabash River Basin Study, along with limited other printed material. Boxes 17 - 23 contain records, including railroad construction numbers, photograph lists, and locomotive rosters, along with Energy Information Association (EIA) Microcomputer Products and Wabash railroad diagrams Boxes 23 and 24 contain artifact realia, such as railroad passes and share certificates. Beginning with box 25, the rest of the boxes contain images, generally in original or enlarged printed photograph format, though boxes 139 and 140 contain slides. Boxes over 100 have been minimally processed, but have been renumbered beginning with Box 100 in order to allow processing and re-boxing to continue more easily. Once processed and placed in new boxes, re-numbering pattern continues in the lower numbers, and boxes numbered over 100 will no longer be needed.