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Vis 27

Chick, A. Harry, 1877-1946. Harry Chick Collection of Railroad Photographs and Ephemera, circa 1870-1993 (inclusive), circa 1870-1940 (bulk): A Finding Aid

Baker Library Special Collections, Harvard Business School, Harvard University


Harvard Business School, Boston MA 02163.

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: Vis 27
Repository: Baker Library Special Collections, Harvard Business School, Harvard University
Creator: Alonzo Harry Chick
Title: Harry Chick collection of railroad photographs and ephemera
Date(s): 1870-1993 (inclusive)
Date(s): 1870-1940 (bulk)
Quantity: 22 linear feet (32 volumes, 25 boxes)
Language of materials: English
Abstract: The Harry Chick collection of railroad photographs and ephemera contains postcards, photographs, stereographs and ephemera pertaining to locomotives and railroads. The materials were collected by railroad enthusiast Harry Chick.


Gift of Nancy A. Chick and Richard Wells Chick, 2011.

Processing Information:

Processed: March 2014
By: Kurt F. Vossler

Processing Information:

This collection of railroad materials arrived semi organized by the creator, Alonzo Harry Chick. The bulk of the material was left in its original arrangement. Where materials did not have an obvious arrangement, the processor created one and described his intentions.

Conditions Governing Access:

Some material may be stored offsite. Please contact histcollref@hbs.edu for more information.

Preferred Citation:

Cite as: Harry Chick Collection of Railroad Photographs and Ephemera. Baker Library Historical Collections. Harvard Business School.

Biographical Note:

Alonzo Harry Chick was an avid railroad enthusiast who amassed an extremely large collection of locomotive photographs, postcards and ephemera relating to the Boston & Maine Railroad. Son of a freight handler, John Wells Chick (1849-1907), and Bell L. Frye of Wells and Kennebunk, Maine, Harry Chick was born Alonzo Harry Chick on Jan 16, 1877. He was known has Harry for his entire life. Harry's early career was spent in vaudeville, as an actor and as a manager. It was through vaudeville that he met Sadie Fearen, and together they managed a traveling theater company. Harry and Sadie had two sons, Richard Wells (1907-1966) and Francis Magnus (1912-2011). Harry left vaudeville at the age of twenty four and turned to railroading for a living. Though he had an interest in locomotives since childhood, he did not start accumulating this collection of photographs and postcards until his gained the position of freight house clerical worker for the Boston and Maine Railroad. However, the collection had already grown to approximately one hundred thousand photographs of approximately thirty thousand unique locomotive engines. Harry retired from the Boston & Maine Railroad in May of 1946, and died in November of that year.
Harry Chick corresponded with many other collectors all over the United States and the world, and was a member of both the Harvard Railroad Historical Society and the Railroad Enthusiast Society. In 1946, an article about his collection was published in the November issue of the Boston & Maine Railroad Employee's Magazine.

Series Outline

The collection is arranged in the following series:

Scope and Content Note:

The Harry Chick Collection of railroad photographs and ephemera contains 4700 photographs, 7300 postcards and 582 stereographs views of locomotives, railroad scenery, stations and depots. Even the non-railroad images within the collection reflect an interest in travel and tourism, with an emphasis on ships and vehicles of all kinds, as well as historic and landmark buildings. The majority of images, however, reinforce his close relationship with railroads, reflecting his employment with the Boston and Maine Railroad, as well as his collecting habits, which included buying and trading for images of locomotives and railroads, as well as collecting magazines and other publications related to railroading. While the majority of images are of American and Canadian railroads, particularly railroads in New England, the collection also includes materials and images from all over the world, including time tables and souvenir photographs from India and Japan.
While the forefront of the collection are the images, the supporting material in the collection also reflects Harry Chick's relationships with railroading, including his employment with Boston and Maine, communication with other enthusiasts, his magazine collection, and membership with the Railroad Enthusiasts and the Railway and Locomotive Historical Society. His own notes and ledgers often describe trains and locomotives in detail, and include meticulous records of his collections, as well as hasty notes on the back of Boston and Maine shipping receipts, which record the details of locomotives later entered alongside photographs in one of the 22 albums within the collection. Chick also kept materials on railroad tours and excursions, particularly those sponsored by the Railroad Enthusiasts society, as well as the 1939 and 1940 World's Fair, particularly their railroad exhibits.

Container List

Additional Index Terms

Black-and-white photographs
Albums (books)
Account books
Railroads--United States
Railroads--United States--Photographs
Railroad Stations--Photographs
Railroad Locomotives--Photographs
Railroad Travel--Photographs
New England--Photographs
Chick, A. Harry (Alonzo Harry), 1877-1946
Boston and Maine Railroad
Boston and Lowell Railroad
Boston and Providence Railroad
Fitchburg Railroad
Maine Central Railroad
New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad
Hoosac Tunnel and Wilmington Railroad
Boston and Albany Railroad