Archives and Special Collections
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Collection Overview
Name of Creator: Boston Elevated Railway Company. Library.
Title: Boston Elevated Railway Company. Library records
Date: 1884-1967 (bulk 1921-1950)
Reference Code: M150
Location Code: 69/4, 71/2, FF5/D5
Extent: 0.75 cubic ft. (3 boxes, 1 flat file)
Scope and Content Abstract: All materials in this collection were part of the Boston Elevated Railway Library. This collection documents the different public transportation systems in the United States, particularly Boston, and in Europe, Africa, and Canada. The collection contains articles, manuals, brochures, schedules, and maps relating to different forms of transportation of the day, and materials relating to specific transportation systems. The collection includes a large number of newspaper articles on aviator Amelia Earhart. The collection also includes a scrapbook and loose pamphlet on the Charles A. Coffin Foundation's award for electric railway company service. The scrapbook consists primarily of presentations from companies competing for the Coffin Award and American Electric Railway Association reports on the winning presentations. The presentations include descriptions of the railway company and its services, reproductions of photographic materials and artwork, graphs, publicity materials, and miscellaneous other materials the company felt would support its claim to the award. Also included in the scrapbook is a brief pamphlet history of the Foundation, correspondence and photographic prints of prize checks, medals, and certificates.
Historical Abstract: On July 2, 1894 the Massachusetts Legislature authorized the incorporation of the Boston Elevated Railway Company, a private company formed to build elevated railway lines to the suburbs of Greater Boston. In November 1896, after a proxy battle with the West End Railway Company, which had previously held a monopoly on streetcar routes for the Boston area, all surface and rapid transit were unified under the Boston Elevated Railway Company. The elevated lines were combined with the subway (which had provided its first ride earlier that year) under one coordinated management. The Boston Elevated Railway Company created new subway and elevated railway lines, and started the first motorbus routes in Boston. In 1916, the Boston Elevated Railway Company established the Boston Elevated Railway Library at its general offices. The library housed material relating to the company, new technology, safety, and materials about other transportation systems around New England, the United States, and the world. The Boston Elevated Railway Company, consumed by financial problems, was subsumed by the Metropolitan Transit Authority to become a government entity on August 29, 1947.
Language and Scripts: Collection is predominately in English; some material is in German.
System of Arrangement: Arranged in one alphabetical sequence by subject.
Subjects and Contributors:
  • Coffin, Charles A. (Charles Albert), 1844-1926
  • Earhart, Amelia, 1897-1937

  • Boston Elevated Railway Company
  • Massachusetts Bay Transportation Association

  • Airplanes
  • Cable Cars (Streetcars)
  • Elevated Railway
  • Railroad Trains
  • Transportation, 1890-1967
  • Trolley buses

Conditions Governing Access: This collection is unrestricted.
Custodial History: These materials were collected by the Boston Elevated Railway Company Library.
Appraisal, Destruction, and Scheduling Information: Several books in this collection are located in the rare books section of the Archives.
Processor: Finding aid prepared by Eliana Wachs Cashman, March 2008; updated by Hanna Clutterbuck, April 2009.