Open House on Trains and Railroads on May 10th, 2019

Image of railroad workers on the Tanzania Zambia railroad, circa 1971-1972

Friday, May 10th, marks the sesquicentennial of the Golden Spike, the ceremonial completion of the first transcontinental railroad. In honor of the occasion, curators Eitan Kensky, Kathleen Smith, and Ben Stone are organizing an Open House in Green Library from 11:00am to 3:00pm. In addition to material documenting the American transcontinental railroad and railroads in the United States, this event highlights stories of other significant trains and transportation networks around the world.

In choosing items for this Open House, curators and library staff at Stanford Libraries used the themes “trains” and “railroads” as organizing centers and jump-off points. We engaged with the following questions: What are (or were) important railroads from these geographic areas? How do these materials illustrate broader stories, such as migration, border crossings, and the flows of culture and capital?

Among other items, curators selected photos documenting railway construction in French Equatorial Africa; audio recordings of construction workers building the rails from the 1960s; a stamp booklet of Korean railway history; a 1897 Mexican railroad atlas and photos of railway workers; photos of the Imperial railways in China and, later, the South Manchurian railroad in China; maps and travel books of the Trans-Siberian railway; plans for a never-built monorail system in Tel Aviv; late-nineteenth-century designs for an expansion of the railroad station in Bologna; and much, much more.

Other items, of course, celebrate American railroads and the original transcontinental railroad, such as a souvenir journal for the fifteenth anniversary of the Brotherhood of Pullman Sleeping Car porters and an official replica of the Golden Spike held in the Stanford University archives.

In addition to the Open House on May 10th, a selection of circulating books is already on display near the Circulation Desk in the East Wing of Green Library that can be checked out and read at leisure, and don't miss the display of posters and movie titles at Media & Microtext.

Special thanks to everyone who contributed to this Open House, including Karen Fung, Adan Griego, Daniel Hartwig, Josh Capitano, Rebecca Wingfield, Julie Sweetkind-Singer, Kyungmi Chun, Regan Murphy Kao, Zhaohui Xue, Margarita Nafpaktitis, Henry Lowood, Sarah Sussman, Nathan Coy, Ray Heigemeir, the Stanford Libraries Department of Conservation and Preservation, and the Department of Special Collections.