Every historian understands how much information is hidden away in the periodical literature. Annual indexes such as Historical Abstracts abound and are often consulted in the course of research, but there is tedium and inefficiency in working through such guides, one volume at a time. Time is precious and even the most diligent researcher is a bit lazy, human nature being what it is; what historians long for is that ultimate key to human knowledge, the cumulative index. If well done, the cumulative index is much more than a superficial listing of titles and authors. Rather, it burrows into the text of each article and mines the hidden gold in the nooks and crannies. A biography of M.N. Forney, for example, is appended to an article on Illinois Central suburban service, something hardly obvious from the article's title. Or, we find that a special issue on Florida's railroads is followed several issues later by an addendum.
If cumulative indexes were easy to do, there would be more of them. Anyone who scans the run of a well-established journal such as Railroad History is likely to decide that the job be left to someone else. It takes dedication to carry out such a laborious assignment, all the more so when it is done as a volunteer effort. We of the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society have been fortunate indeed to find so able and determined a volunteer in the person of Thomas T. Taber III of Muncy, Pennsylvania. Tom's skills as a historian are manifest in his publications, particularly his award-winning study of the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western. Some readers will also know of his previous indexing projects, one for the series on logging railroads in Pennsylvania for which he wrote so much, another for Baldwin Locomotives. To his mastery of things historical, Tom also brings the precision of an engineer. The result is a remarkable accomplishment, the key to the 64-year treasure-trove contained in nearly 160 volumes of the premier periodical devoted to railroad history. It is impossible to overstate our gratitude to Tom Taber, so on behalf of the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society I simply offer a heartfelt expression of thanks.
Fred A. Stindt, President, 1981-1988.
Railway & Locomotive Historical Society