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Research and Preservation Support

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R&LHS is compiling information about funding sources for railroad history writing, research, and restoration projects. This is a work in progress. Your suggestions are welcome.

Individual Researchers

R&LHS. To encourage the study of railroad history, the R&LHS awards two research fellowships of $2,500 each. The fellowships, named for well-known railroad scholars William D. Middleton and John H. White, Jr., are available for new and established scholars to support the research and publication of railroad history. Applicants need not be members of the R&LHS. The deadline for applications is June 30 each year. Lexington Group. In 2006 the Lexington Group in Transportation History established the Richard C. Overton Research Fellowship to honor one of the organization's founders and a leading scholar of America's railroads. To promote the study of transportation history, the Overton Fellowships provide grants from $500 to $3,000 to underwrite travel expenses to conduct research at archives and libraries. Deadline is May 31 each year. For information and applications, contact Prof. Carlos A. Schwantes or by mail at 620 Spring Meadows Drive, Ballwin, Missouri 63011.

Nonprofit Organizations

Tom E. Dailey Foundation Inc., Chicago, was established in 2013 through an endowment by Tom Dailey, a senior executive in the payment processing industry for more than 30 years. “The Foundation was created as a way to to support specific causes which are close to his heart and to share the blessings he has received. Grants are available in eligible categories to qualified organizations in amounts up to $15,000,” according to its website. Its railroad heritage category promotes the history of railroads, restoration of historic equipment, or other historic rail-related projects. Applicationa are accepted from not-for-profit organizations.

North American Railway Foundation, formed on October 22, 1996, is a nonprofit organization (a private operating foundation), with support from the the Brotherhood’s Relief & Compensation Fund. Its purpose is to explore, nurture and support railway safety, efficiency and technology and to educate about and preserve the history of railroads in the United States and Canada. The foundation provides direct and active financial support to non-profit institutions and projects which exemplify the foundation's purpose. NARF works very closely with each of its project coordinators and provides an extra resource to the end beneficiary of its support. Its website has more information and examples of railroad history projects it has funded. NARF must physically receive applications by June 9, 2017, for consideration for funding in its 2017-18 fiscal year budget.

John H. Emery Rail Heritage Trust was created by John Emery, a native of Chicago and a lover of the classic passenger trains of America. The trust was founded as a way to support Emery’s interests in the passenger trains of the 1920s though the 1950s. The trust operates as a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) foundation under the Internal Revenue Code. Applications for grants can be made up to October 1 of each year for awards in the spring of the following year. The decisions are made by a three-person advisory committee based on criteria established by Emery. Details are on its website.

National Historical Publications and Records Commission funds projects that deal with historical source material:

  • Records of state, county, municipal, tribal, or other non-federal units of government
  • Manuscripts, personal and family papers, or organizational and business archives
  • Collections of photographs, motion pictures, sound recordings, electronic records, and/or such visual materials as unpublished architectural, cartographic, and engineering drawings.

Details are on its website. An example is a grant for Cornell University Library's Kheel Center.

National Railway Historical Society has, since 1991, been giving annual matching grants for projects which preserve, research, educate, or publish railway history. Details are on its website. The NRHS’s primary concern is the quality and historical significance of the rail preservation project and the ability of the organization to carry it out, including ability to secure matching funds and volunteer labor.