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From the Cataloger’s Desk: Dreams of Traveling

September 10, 2018

The IHS library holds an impressive collection of materials relating to railroads and trains. In last month’s blog post, I confessed to knowing very little about cooking. Turns out, I know even less about railroads and trains. I am, however, slowly learning bits and pieces as I carry out my cataloging duties.

I have never traveled long distance by train, but I have always found the idea exciting, and in some ways, romantic. Although train travel is still common, it isn’t quite the luxurious experience it was years ago. I suppose the same can be said about most methods of transportation today. I recently cataloged a booklet that had me daydreaming about cross country travels in top of the line accommodations from days gone by.

New Type Room Accommodations in Sleeping Cars on the Pennsylvania Railroad, published in the 1940s, was “… prepared as a guide for ticket agents, reservation clerks, information clerks, passenger representatives and others concerned with the sale or reservation of sleeping car space in order that they may acquaint themselves with and answer questions regarding new room accommodations in latest type sleeping cars.” Roomettes, duplex rooms, double bedrooms, compartments, drawing rooms and master rooms are all included, as well as descriptions of their daytime and night-time features. Floor plans show where room types and other amenities are located within each car. It’s amazing how much could fit into such little space. The designers of these rooms certainly valued efficiency and practicality and managed to combine them with comfort and style.

After reading this booklet and studying the images, I can imagine my dream trip perfectly. I’m heading west in my private compartment with “apartment-like comfort,” and I’m conveniently situated near the buffet and lounge. I have excellent views of beautiful scenery along the way, and the whole experience leaves me feeling relaxed and pampered. Now, it’s your turn! Visit the IHS library, learn about various travel accommodations from the past, and daydream about your own journey.

The catalog record for this item can be found here.

Lindsay Borman is the cataloger of Printed Collections at the Indiana Historical Society. Her claim to fame: She can name all of the U.S. presidents ... in order!

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