Guide to the Lexington Group Records

Collection Title: Lexington Group Records
Dates: 1942-1989
Identification: 55/40
Creator: Lexington Group in Transportation History
Extent: 10 Boxes
Language of Materials: English
Abstract: An informal organization dedicated to the study of American railroad history, the Lexington Group formed in 1942 when business historian Richard Cleghorn Overton of Northwestern University and eight other railroad enthusiasts gathered in a Lexington, KY coffee shop. The Lexington Group met once each year until 1947, after which time two or even three meetings took place annually in conjunction with such major conferences as the Mississippi Valley Historical Association and the American Historical Association. Dating from 1942 to 1988, the Records of the Lexington Group comprise 11 linear feet of conference materials, correspondence, membership records, research resources, publications, and typescripts. The bulk of the series consists of correspondence and membership records with emphasis on the period 1942-1969.
Acquisition Information: The Records of the Lexington Group were separated from the H. F. Bennett Papers, which the University Archives received on November 5, 1975.
Processing Information: Meg Gingrich; July 2001. Rae Sikula Bielakowski; October 2003.
Separated Materials: One folder pertaining to Business Library acquisitions was separated and transferred to the University Archives General Files. Two additional items—“Preliminary Check List of Secondary Works in Railway History,” a bibliography compiled by Richard C. Overton, and the Bureau of Railway Economics Library's “Recent Accessions of Interest,” List Nos. 1079-1434 (March 28, 1956-May 8, 1963)—were separated from this series and transferred to the Northwestern University Transportation Library.
Conditions Governing Access: None.
Repository: Northwestern University Archives
Deering Library, Room 110
1970 Campus Dr.
Evanston, IL, 60208-2300
URL: http://www.library.northwestern.edu/archives
Email: archives@northwestern.edu
Phone: 847-491-3354

Biographical/Historical Information

An informal organization dedicated to the study of American railroad history, the Lexington Group formed in 1942 when business historian Richard Cleghorn Overton of Northwestern University and eight other railroad enthusiasts gathered in a Lexington, KY coffee shop following a conference of the Mississippi Valley Historical Association (now the Organization of American Historians). Within the next ten years the small circle's membership increased to over 200 members, including historians, railroad employees, archivists, librarians, journalists, and graduate students.

Without a charter or by-laws, the Group operated with only one officer—Overton, as Secretary—until 1955, when business professor Howard Bennett assumed a large portion of Overton's secretarial duties. Membership dues were minimal, collected irregularly, and intended only to defray postage expenses.

The Lexington Group met once each year until 1947, after which time two or even three meetings took place annually in conjunction with such major conferences as the Mississippi Valley Historical Association and the American Historical Association. Between conference meetings the secretary corresponded with members to plan events and circulate bibliographies, research ideas, and a periodic though somewhat irregular newsletter. Members also worked together to ensure the preservation and accessibility of primary sources, such as the records of the Illinois Central Railroad (deposited at the Newberry Library in 1944).

In 1969 Northwestern professor Richard Barsness took over the office of Secretary after a car accident severely injured Bennett. As of 1999 the Lexington Group comprised over 400 members.

Scope and Content

Dating from 1942 to 1988, the Records of the Lexington Group comprise 11 linear feet of conference materials, correspondence, membership records, research resources, publications, and typescripts. The bulk of the series consists of correspondence and membership records with emphasis on the period 1942-1969.

The historical materials consist of historical sketches prepared by Richard C. Overton in 1945 and 1949, and Thomas C. Cochran in 1952; as well as Overton's 1989 obituary and an undated description of the Lexington Group.

Conference files include typescripts of presentations; notes; schedules of events; and reports on conference activities.

Dating from 1942 to 1969, the correspondence is divided into three categories: general, R. C. Overton, and H. F. Bennett. Chronologically arranged, the general correspondence dates from 1944 to 1969 and includes research-related letters to and between Lexington Group members The incoming and outgoing correspondence of Lexington Group Secretary R. C. Overton are filed alphabetically according to the correspondents' last names. By contrast, Lexington Group Secretary H. F. Bennett's incoming and outgoing correspondence are arranged chronologically from 1950 to 1969. Both the Overton and Bennett correspondence files pertain to scheduling events and presentations, compiling bibliographies, gathering member news, and other business related to the Lexington Group.

One folder pertaining to dues and donations dates from 1952 to 1969 and documents the Lexington Group's approach to organizational finances.

Membership records consist of statistics, membership lists, bibliography questionnaires, and membership questionnaires. The chronologically arranged occupational statistics (1952-1959) and membership lists (1942-1970) reflect the Lexington Group's size and professional diversity. One folder of alphabetically arranged bibliography questionnaires document members' transportation-related publications as of 1952. While membership questionnaire files are arranged chronologically, within each file the questionnaires are in alphabetical order according to members' names. The questionnaires, which date from 1947 to 1965, provide information on members' identities and individual research interests.

Dating from 1947 to 1968, the research resources list and occasionally describe primary and secondary sources that Lexington Group members hoped would benefit their research. Chronologically arranged, the two folders of general bibliographical materials include source-related correspondence with librarians, archivists, and scholars; lists of archival holdings; lists of secondary sources; and book lists or announcements provided by publishers. The Baker Library and McCormick Collection files (1958) contain listings of railroads documented in their primary source collections.

Publications include announcements of members' forthcoming books (1958-1968) and Lexington Group newsletters dating from 1953 to 1970.

Arranged alphabetically by title, the unidentified typescripts comprise three railway-related research papers or presentations of uncertain context. Two date from 1945 and 1947 respectively; while another is undated.

Arrangement of Materials

Each series is arranged chronologically, or alphabetically by folder title.

Subjects

Corporate Name

Lexington Group in Transportation History

Personal Name

Bennett, Howard F. (Howard Franklin), 1911-1974--Correspondence

Overton, Richard C. (Richard Cleghorn), 1907-1988--Correspondence

Subjects

Railroads--United States--Congresses

Railroads--United States--History--Societies, etc.


Container List / Contents

  • Conference Meetings
    • Harrisburg, PA, Dec. 1944Box 1, Folder 2
    • St. Louis, MO, Apr. 1944Box 1, Folder 3
    • Columbus, OH, Apr. 1947Box 1, Folder 4
    • Cleveland, OH, Dec. 1947Box 1, Folder 5
    • Rock Island, IL, Apr. 1948Box 1, Folder 6
    • Chicago, IL, Dec. 1950Box 1, Folder 7
    • Cincinnati, OH, Apr. 1951Box 1, Folder 8
    • Chicago, IL, Apr. 1952Box 1, Folder 9
    • Washington, D.C., Dec. 1952Box 1, Folder 10
    • Lexington, KY, May 1953Box 1, Folder 11
    • Chicago, IL, Dec. 1953Box 1, Folder 12
    • Madison, WI, Apr. 1954Box 1, Folder 13
    • New York, NY, Dec. 1954Box 1, Folder 14
    • St. Louis, MO, Apr. 1955Box 1, Folder 15
    • Washington, D.C., Dec. 1955Box 1, Folder 16
    • Pittsburgh, PA, Apr. 1956Box 1, Folder 17
    • St. Louis, MO, Dec. 1956Box 1, Folder 18
    • Lincoln, NE, May 1957Box 1, Folder 19
    • New York, NY, Dec. 1957Box 1, Folder 20
    • San Francisco, CA, Jan. 1958Box 1, Folder 21
    • Minneapolis, MN, Apr. 1958Box 1, Folder 22
    • Washington, D.C., Dec. 1958Box 1, Folder 23
    • Denver, CO, Apr. 1959Box 1, Folder 24
    • Chicago, IL, Dec. 1959Box 1, Folder 25
    • Louisville, KY, Apr. 1960Box 2, Folder 1
    • New York, NY, Dec. 1960Box 2, Folder 2
    • Detroit, MI, Apr. 1961Box 2, Folder 3
    • Milwaukee, WI, Apr. 1962Box 2, Folder 4
    • Omaha, NE, May 1963Box 2, Folder 5
    • Madison, WI, Apr. 1964Box 2, Folder 6
    • Cleveland, OH, May 1964Box 2, Folder 7
    • Kansas City, MO, Apr. 1965Box 2, Folder 8
    • El Paso, TX, Oct. 1966Box 2, Folder 9
    • Cincinnati, OH, Apr. 1966Box 2, Folder 10
    • Chicago, IL, Apr. 1967Box 2, Folder 11
    • Dallas, TX, Apr. 1968Box 2, Folder 12
  • Correspondence
    • General, 1944-1969Box 2, Folder 13
    • R.C. Overton [A], 1946-1963Box 3, Folder 1
    • R.C. Overton [Ba-Bo], 1944-1955Box 3, Folder 2
    • R.C. Overton [Br-Bu], 1944-1955Box 3, Folder 3
    • R.C. Overton [Ca-Co], 1944-1953Box 3, Folder 4
    • R.C. Overton [Cr-Cu], 1944-1953Box 3, Folder 5
    • R.C. Overton [D], 1944-1954Box 3, Folder 6
    • R.C. Overton [E-F], 1944-1955Box 3, Folder 7
    • R.C. Overton [G], 1944-1957Box 3, Folder 8
    • R.C. Overton [Ha-He], 1942-1954Box 4, Folder 1
    • R.C. Overton [Hi-J], 1942-1957Box 4, Folder 2
    • R.C. Overton [K], 1943-1954Box 4, Folder 3
    • R.C. Overton [L], 1944-1957Box 4, Folder 4
    • R.C. Overton [Ma-Mc], 1942-1967Box 4, Folder 5
    • R.C. Overton [Me-O], 1942-1967Box 4, Folder 6
    • R.C. Overton [P-Ra], 1944-1952Box 4, Folder 7
    • R.C. Overton [Re-Ru], 1944-1954Box 5, Folder 1
    • R.C. Overton [Sa-So], 1944-1967Box 5, Folder 2
    • R.C. Overton [Sp-Su], 1945-1962Box 5, Folder 3
    • R.C. Overton [Ta-Th], 1944-1954Box 5, Folder 4
    • R.C. Overton [Ti-V], 1944-1967Box 5, Folder 5
    • R.C. Overton [Wa-Wo], 1944-1957Box 5, Folder 6
    • R.C. Overton [Wr-Z], 1946-1954Box 5, Folder 7
    • H.F. Bennett, 1950-1956Box 5, Folder 8
    • H.F. Bennett, 1957-1961Box 5, Folder 9
    • H.F. Bennett, 1962-1964Box 6, Folder 1
    • H.F. Bennett, 1965-1966Box 6, Folder 2
    • H.F. Bennett, 1967-1969Box 6, Folder 3
    • Dues and donations, 1952-1969Box 6, Folder 4
  • Membership Records
    • Occupational statistics, 1952-1959Box 6, Folder 5
    • Membership Lists, 1942-1952Box 6, Folder 6
    • Membership Lists, 1953-1970Box 6, Folder 7
    • Bibliography questionnaire, 1952Box 6, Folder 8
    • Membership questionnaire, 1947Box 6, Folder 9
    • Membership questionnaire, 1948Box 7, Folder 1
    • Membership questionnaire, 1949Box 7, Folder 2
    • Membership questionnaire, 1950Box 7, Folder 3
    • Membership questionnaire, 1951Box 7, Folder 4
    • Membership questionnaire, 1952Box 8, Folder 1
    • Membership questionnaire [A-K], 1953-1954Box 8, Folder 2
    • Membership questionnaire [L-Z], 1953-1954Box 8, Folder 3
    • Membership questionnaire [A-K], 1955-1956Box 8, Folder 4
    • Membership questionnaire [L-W], 1955-1956Box 8, Folder 4.10
    • Membership questionnaire [A-L], 1957-1958Box 8, Folder 5
    • Membership questionnaire [M-Z], 1957-1958Box 9, Folder 1
    • Membership questionnaire [A-J], 1958-1959Box 9, Folder 2
    • Membership questionnaire [K-Z], 1958-1959Box 9, Folder 3
    • Membership questionnaire [A-J], 1960Box 9, Folder 4
    • Membership questionnaire [K-Z], 1960Box 9, Folder 5
    • Membership questionnaire [A-H], 1965Box 9, Folder 6
    • Membership questionnaire [I-Z], 1965Box 10, Folder 1
  • Research Resources
    • Bibliographical materials, 1947-1957, n.d.Box 10, Folder 2
    • Bibliographical materials, 1963-1968, n.d.Box 10, Folder 3
    • Baker Library, 1958Box 10, Folder 4
    • McCormick Collection, 1958Box 10, Folder 5
  • Publications
    • Announcements, 1958-1968, n.d.Box 10, Folder 6
    • Newsletter, 1953-1957Box 10, Folder 7
    • Newsletter, 1958-1961Box 10, Folder 8
    • Newsletter, 1962-1970Box 10, Folder 9
  • Unidentified Typescripts
    • “A Historical Sketch of the Baltimore and Ohio Chicago Terminal Railroad Company…” [author unknown], 1947Box 10, Folder 10
    • “The Northern Pacific Railroad” [author unknown], n.d.Box 10, Folder 11
    • “A Reply to Robert S. Henry's ‘The Railroad Land Grant Legend in American History Texts’” [Dr. David M. Ellis], 1945Box 10, Folder 12
  • Historical materials, 1945-1989Box 1, Folder 1