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Smithsonian Contact Info Question

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Smithsonian Contact Info Question

Postby Curtis_F » Tue Apr 13, 2010 12:03 pm

By chance do one of you gentlemen happen to have contact information for William Withuhn, Curator of Transportation History, of the Smithsonian Institute?

I was in contact with Bill some twenty years ago, back in the dying days of written correspondence, about getting copies of the blueprints for the Camden and Amboy Ry #1 aka "John Bull" locomotive made by the PRR back in 1939 when they built the replica. At that time there were some major renovations going on in the transportation dept. and the drawings were effectively locked away. He said I should wait a couple of years then get back with him...I'd say it's been long enough.

I've been rereading John White's "The American Locomotive" and it reminded me how much I have always admired that old engine.


Thank you for your time in reading this,

Curtis F.
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Re: Smithsonian Contact Info Question

Postby Brian Norden » Tue Apr 13, 2010 10:41 pm

Bill has retired -- I think it was effective this past January 1st.
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Re: Smithsonian Contact Info Question

Postby Curtis_F » Wed Apr 14, 2010 7:12 am

Brian Norden wrote:Bill has retired -- I think it was effective this past January 1st.

Brian,

Thank you for the information. I'll just send a generic letter to the Smithsonian and see who responds.

Though I'd still like to get in touch with Bill again.


Thanks again,

Curtis F.
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Re: Smithsonian Contact Info Question

Postby Brian Norden » Wed Apr 14, 2010 7:16 pm

Trains Magazine had a piece about Bill Withuhm in one of the last issues of 2009. It implied that Bill and his wife were moving to California.

I saw a posting on the Railway Preservation News discussion board about the recent weekend of meetings at Strasburg, PA. Bill Withuhm was named as participating in a discussion about the updating of the boiler regulations. Withuhm is an engineer by training and was involved in the same group as Lynn Moedinger, J. David Conrad, and others in developing the revisions of a decade or so ago of the old ICC boiler regs.
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Re: Smithsonian Contact Info Question

Postby Loco112 » Wed Apr 16, 2014 8:54 pm

Curtis_F wrote:
Brian Norden wrote:Bill has retired -- I think it was effective this past January 1st.

Brian,

Thank you for the information. I'll just send a generic letter to the Smithsonian and see who responds.

Though I'd still like to get in touch with Bill again.


Thanks again,

Curtis F.


Curtis did you get a response from the Smiths?

I'm wondering who at the Smithsonian is the person to talk to, these days.
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Re: Smithsonian Contact Info Question

Postby Randy Hees » Fri Apr 18, 2014 3:12 pm

There is currently no curator of transportation at the Smithsonian...

What are you looking for?

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Re: Smithsonian Contact Info Question

Postby Loco112 » Sun Apr 20, 2014 10:23 pm

I'd like to find out what they have in the way of blueprints over ther now.

I heard from one person that they might have some info on the 8-18C (drawing 4) locos, other than what we have all talked about previously, that we would find useful.
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Re: Smithsonian Contact Info Question

Postby Randy Hees » Mon Apr 21, 2014 4:54 pm

The Smithsonian History ( http://americanhistory.si.edu/) libraries are not a unified group, and they are not designed to be publicly usable (they exist to support the Smithsonian staff and their missions) but do welcome independent researchers. I have spend something over 45 days over the last 15 years at various Smithsonian Libraries… but I like libraries and get to visit Washington DC regularly…

There are 4 libraries/archives within the Museum of American History; 1) Archives Center… they have Baldwin, Pullman and Jackson & Sharp records… they have photographs… they have drawings… they are the most formal of the sites. 2) the Dibner Library… for fine arts… but they also hold much of the early original paint material. In theory they should be the most formal, but I have found them very friendly and informal. 3) The Smithsonian History Library… located on the 5th floor, away from visitors… they hold the trade literature collection. They are very helpful, but seem truly surprised when non-staff find out they exist. Finally, 4) the remote storage facility, near Andrews AFB in Maryland… they are increasingly the repository of the lesser used material from the library, including most of the 19th century periodicals and the Master Car Builder’s proceedings. The “repository of record” can pull the items and hold them at the Museum of American History if you give them sufficient time, or you can use them at the remote site… The remote site has limited support facilities… it is located in an industrial park at the end of a metro line near the beltway… The day I used the collections there I was the only researcher… and it seemed that I was a bit of a novelty…

There is also a 5th, under identified secret collection, materials related to the physical collection and exhibit development… It resides on staff member’s desks… in files in private offices… there is stuff there but getting at it requires personal contacts… and luck…

As far as I can tell anything on Baldwin locomotives (like 8-18c drawings) would be found in the Archives Center if it can be found. If there are any secret collections (the 5th group) they are likely the known stuff from CSRM from the Sonoma restoration… (likely from Eric Thompson's collection) They are unlikely to hold a special secret hoard of drawings… (but likely know where Malaysian Ft 370 is, but won’t tell you)

Their search engine (siris) can be found at http://siris-libraries.si.edu/ipac20/ipac.jsp?profile=

There is also likely railroad stuff in the Postal Museum library…

Collectively the Smithsonian Museum of American History libraries are one of the best sources of information on early American railroads.

Randy
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