Research Links: Related Research Sites

This list of research sites offering railroads related information is not meant to be comprehensive, but to feature additional resources connected to the content of the exhibition Railroads and the Transformation of Capitalism and to provide more avenues of investigation.

Shaping the West, part of The Spatial History Project (Stanford University) Conducted by The Spatial History Lab at Stanford, the Shaping the West project was “established to explore the growth and influence of the railroads on the Western United States. While the eventual goal is to reconstruct a network that includes every historic rail line in the American West before 1900, the project puts particular emphasis on the railroads of California and those around San Francisco. The project connects data gathered from more traditional historic sources (letters, freight tables, books, newspapers, accident reports, ledgers) to its specific geographic location using historic maps and surveys … This spatial history…examines how historic perceptions of space in the newly settled West were influenced by more than Cartesian geography: specifically by patterns of land holding, commerce, and communication.”

Railroads and the Making of Modern America (University of Nebraska, Lincoln) This project seeks to document and represent the rapid and far-reaching social effects of railroads and to explore the transformation the United States underwent as it embraced modern ideas, institutions, and practices in the nineteenth century. Continuously refined and updated, the site includes voluminous and diverse documents (annual reports, books, broadsides, contracts, diaries, government reports, letters, laws, legal decisions, newspapers, pamphlets, payrolls, rate tables, speeches, timetables) and visual materials (maps, illustrations, photographs) presented with case studies, data downloads and visualizations, teaching materials, and graduate student projects. Topics currently include: Slavery and the southern railroads, railroad work and workers, the Civil War and strategy, the 1877 railroad strike, land sales, immigration, and emigration, the origins of segregation, William Jennings Bryan’s 1896 presidential campaign, tourism and mobility, and representing the railroad. For each subject area the research mission is to create interpretive visualizations and to explore and represent the ways railroads changed understandings of space and time. As a whole, this project aims to collect and make available a wide array of materials to shed light on the ways Americans experienced the railroads in the nineteenth century.

Railroad Maps, 1828-1900 (Library of Congress, American Memory) This site provides digital access to 623 maps from Railroad Maps of the United States: A Selective Annotated Bibliography of Original 19th-century Maps in the Geography and Map Division of the Library of Congress, compiled by Andrew M. Modelski (Washington: Library of Congress, 1975). The maps were chosen from railroad maps, regional, state, and county maps, as well as other maps from the Library of Congress Map Division that depict “internal improvements” of the past century. The 623 maps show the development of cartographic style and technique and illustrate the important achievements of early railroaders in reaching their ultimate goal: to establish a transportation network spanning the country and linking the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

U.S. Railroad Growth Animation, 1830 - 1921 (The Center for Geographic Analysis at Harvard University and Schofield Brothers of New England) This site, using geographic information software, presents digitized railroad line locations in the United States from 1830-1921. Using animated historic railroad maps to help visualize the growth of the United States railroad system, the project was the result of calculating the mileage of railroads per county.