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Mss:724 1834-1977 P412

Penn Central Transportation Corporation records

Baker Library Special Collections, Harvard Business School, Harvard University

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Harvard Business School, Boston MA 02163.

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: Mss:724 1834-1977 P412
Repository: Baker Library Special Collections, Harvard Business School, Harvard University
Title: Penn Central Transportation Corporation records
Date(s): 1834-1983
Quantity: 56.75 linear feet (42 cartons, 3 boxes, 68 volumes)
Language of materials: English
Abstract: The records of the Penn Central Transportation Corporation consist of the corporate records of a number of predecessor and subsidiary railroads leased or operated by the larger corporation. These records include stockholders' and directors' minutes, account books, and stock records. The largest body of records exist for the Norwich & Worcester Railroad and the Boston & Albany Railroad.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

The records were donated by the Penn Central Corporation in 1987, following a survey and appraisal conducted by the staff of the Hagley Museum and Library as part of a project funded by the NHPRC. A small addenda was donated by the Hagley Museum and Library in September 2002.

Processing Information:

Processed: July 2003 By: Barbara Austen

Processing Information:

The collection was received in 55 records cartons and bankers boxes, with 56 loose oversize volumes. The materials were consolidated into 38 cartons and one box. Original folder titles were transferred to new acid-free folders. Loose volumes that could fit into boxes were boxed. Correspondence stored in wooden letter files were transferred to acid-free folders. Soft leather book covers on the oversize volumes were removed due to their poor condition.

Conditions Governing Access:

This collection is open for research. Materials stored offsite. Please contact specialcollectionsref@hbs.edu for more information.

Preferred Citation:

Penn Central Transportation Corporation Records. Baker Library, Harvard Business School.

Related Materials

Researchers should note that the following rail lines have individual collections at Baker Library: New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad Company records, Boston & Albany Railroad Co. records and Ware River Railroad Company records which are part of the Boston & Albany Railroad Co. records.

Biographical / Historical

The Penn Central Transportation Corporation (commonly abbreviated to Penn Central) was formed by the merger in 1968 of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company (1846-1968) and the New York Central Railroad Company (1853-1968).
The Pennsylvania Railroad consisted of 11,000 miles of track from Long Island to Louisville, Chicago, and Detroit. The system encompassed over 800 separate corporations, including rail lines, canals, turnpikes, express companies, trollies, ferries, bridge companies, real estate, office buildings, coal companies, and, in the 1920s, truck and bus lines.
The New York Central Railroad system was similar to Pennsylvania's. The major differences were that its lines only extended as far south as Pennsylvania but provided service as far north as Montreal and Ottawa, Canada.
When the two railroads merged, also absorbing the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad in the process, they created the Penn Central Transportation Company. The new corporation was short lived, declaring bankruptcy on June 21, 1970. The Federal government was actively involved in the reorganization of the railroad, creating on April 1, 1976, the Consolidated Rail Corp. (Conrail) to manage the viable portions of the Penn Central and five smaller northeastern rail lines. Penn Central was reorganized as the general holding company Penn Central Corporation in 1978.

Scope and Contents

The records of the Penn Central Transportation Corporation consist of the corporate records of a number of predecessor and subsidiary railroads leased or operated by the larger corporation. These records include stockholders' and directors' minutes, account books, and stock records. The largest body of records exist for the Norwich & Worcester Railroad and the Boston & Albany Railroad. Significant among the former railroad's records are an extensive run of correspondence, 1847-1947, maintained by the president, the secretary/treasurer, and the superintendent related to the day-to-day operation of the rail line as well as stockholders' concerns. Also of interest are reports to the Interstate Commerce Commission, 1889-1960. Norwich & Worcester was operated by the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad. Other lines under the NY, NH & H railroad were the Holyoke & Worcester, Providence Terminal Co., South Manchester, New England Transportation Co., the New England Car Co., and Union Freight Railroad. The records of the Boston & Albany Railroad include stockholders' records, 1867-1961, directors' records, 1867-1960, and reports to the Interstate Commerce Commission, 1888-1959. Among the rail lines operated by the Boston & Albany railroad whose records are included in this collection are the Hudson & Boston, Athol & Enfield, Chester & Becket, Pittsfield & North Adams, Spencer, Springfield & Northeastern, Albany & West Stockbridge, Grand Junction, and Ware River.
More current materials, including correspondence and financial records, which document the sale of property and lines prior to the merger and during the reorganization of Penn Central can be found in the records of the New England Transportation Co., 1955-1969 and of the Penn Central Transportation Corporation, 1971-1977.

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