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COLLECTION Identifier: Vis 27

Harry Chick collection of railroad photographs and ephemera

The Harry Chick collection of railroad photographs and ephemera contains postcards, photographs, stereographs and ephemera pertaining to locomotives and railroads. The materials were collected by railroad enthusiast Harry Chick.

Dates

  • 1870-1993 (inclusive)
  • Majority of material found within 1870-1940

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Materials stored onsite. Please contact specialcollectionsref@hbs.edu for more information.

Extent

22 linear feet (32 volumes, 25 boxes)

The Harry Chick Collection of railroad photographs and ephemera contains 4700 photographs, 7300 postcards and 582 stereographs views of locomotives, railroad scenery, stations and depots. Even the non-railroad images within the collection reflect an interest in travel and tourism, with an emphasis on ships and vehicles of all kinds, as well as historic and landmark buildings. The majority of images, however, reinforce his close relationship with railroads, reflecting his employment with the Boston and Maine Railroad, as well as his collecting habits, which included buying and trading for images of locomotives and railroads, as well as collecting magazines and other publications related to railroading. While the majority of images are of American and Canadian railroads, particularly railroads in New England, the collection also includes materials and images from all over the world, including time tables and souvenir photographs from India and Japan.

While the forefront of the collection are the images, the supporting material in the collection also reflects Harry Chick's relationships with railroading, including his employment with Boston and Maine, communication with other enthusiasts, his magazine collection, and membership with the Railroad Enthusiasts and the Railway and Locomotive Historical Society. His own notes and ledgers often describe trains and locomotives in detail, and include meticulous records of his collections, as well as hasty notes on the back of Boston and Maine shipping receipts, which record the details of locomotives later entered alongside photographs in one of the 22 albums within the collection. Chick also kept materials on railroad tours and excursions, particularly those sponsored by the Railroad Enthusiasts society, as well as the 1939 and 1940 World's Fair, particularly their railroad exhibits.

Biographical Note:

Alonzo Harry Chick was an avid railroad enthusiast who amassed an extremely large collection of locomotive photographs, postcards and ephemera relating to the Boston & Maine Railroad. Son of a freight handler, John Wells Chick (1849-1907), and Bell L. Frye of Wells and Kennebunk, Maine, Harry Chick was born Alonzo Harry Chick on Jan 16, 1877. He was known has Harry for his entire life. Harry's early career was spent in vaudeville, as an actor and as a manager. It was through vaudeville that he met Sadie Fearen, and together they managed a traveling theater company. Harry and Sadie had two sons, Richard Wells (1907-1966) and Francis Magnus (1912-2011). Harry left vaudeville at the age of twenty four and turned to railroading for a living. Though he had an interest in locomotives since childhood, he did not start accumulating this collection of photographs and postcards until his gained the position of freight house clerical worker for the Boston and Maine Railroad. However, the collection had already grown to approximately one hundred thousand photographs of approximately thirty thousand unique locomotive engines. Harry retired from the Boston & Maine Railroad in May of 1946, and died in November of that year.

Harry Chick corresponded with many other collectors all over the United States and the world, and was a member of both the Harvard Railroad Historical Society and the Railroad Enthusiast Society. In 1946, an article about his collection was published in the November issue of the Boston & Maine Railroad Employee's Magazine.

Series Outline

The collection is arranged in the following series:
  1. Series I. Photographs, circa 1865-1940
  2. ___Subseries A. Glass negatives, circa 1865-1890
  3. ___Subseries B. Stereographs, circa 1870-1900
  4. ___Subseries C. Photographs, circa 1920-1940
  5. ___Subseries D. Negatives
  6. Series II. Albums, circa 1900-1940
  7. ___Subseries A. Photograph Albums, 1911-1933
  8. ___Subseries B. Postcard Albums, circa 1900-1940
  9. Series III. Postcards, circa 1900-1993
  10. ___Subseries A. Railroads, circa 1900-1940
  11. ___Subseries B. Other subjects, circa 1900-1993
  12. Series IV. Ephemera, circa 1880-1982
  13. Series V. Manuscripts and Correspondence, 1916-1936
  14. Series VI. Scrapbooks, 1890-1927
  15. Series VII. Newspaper Clippings

Provenance:

Gift of Nancy A. Chick and Richard Wells Chick, 2011.

Processing Information

Processed: March 2014

By: Kurt F. Vossler
Processing Information: This collection of railroad materials arrived semi organized by the creator, Alonzo Harry Chick. The bulk of the material was left in its original arrangement. Where materials did not have an obvious arrangement, the processor created one and described his intentions.
Link to catalog
Title
Chick, A. Harry, 1877-1946. Harry Chick Collection of Railroad Photographs and Ephemera, circa 1870-1993 (inclusive), circa 1870-1940 (bulk): A Finding Aid
Author
Baker Library
EAD ID
bak00240

Repository Details

Part of the Baker Library Special Collections, Harvard Business School, Harvard University Repository

Baker Library Special Collections holds unique resources that focus on the evolution of business and industry, as well as the records of the Harvard Business School, documenting the institution's development over the last century. These rich and varied collections support research in a diverse range of fields such as business, economic, social and cultural history as well as the history of science and technology.

Contact:
Baker Library | Bloomberg Center
Soldiers Field Road
Boston MA 01263 USA
(617) 495-6411