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train-themed greeting card detail

Photographic greeting card (detail) with reproduction of a train station platform, possibly painted by Anthony Gross (1905-1984).

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International Railroad Ephemera from the Collection of Jeremiah J. O'Connor

Stephen Richard Kerbs Exhibit Area
October 25, 2020
February 19, 2021

This exhibition is a companion exhibit to The Train Takes You II: Posters and Pairings for the Virtual Traveler (Fairchild and Special Collections Galleries, Lauinger 5th Floor). The items for both exhibitions were collected by Georgetown alumnus Jeremiah J. O’Connor (C ’34, L ’37) and are part of the Manuscripts unit of the Booth Family Center for Special Collections. O’Connor served in World War II and had a distinguished career in the foreign service. He served as first secretary of the American consulate in Vienna and as consul general in the State Department. When he died at age 50 in 1964, O'Connor was working in the Department's inspector corps. His hobby was collecting railroad memorabilia. Throughout his international career he was able to acquire all manner of printed ephemera through established contacts in the railroad and travel industry and the world of diplomacy. He also gave lectures on the subject.

The O'Connor Railroad Collection (GTM-150430) spans the years 1840 to 1964 and contains 62 boxes of materials. Included are train schedules and time tables, printed promotional material, published manufacturer's brochures and catalogues, stock certificates, maps, photographs, and other types of ephemera. The items in this display are from boxes 51 and 52 of the repository.

Chalk Farm Bridge

Chalk Farm Bridge, Birmingham Railway

J. Fussell
steel engraving with later hand coloring
circa 1840

The London and Birmingham Railway (LBR) was London’s first main rail line, and operated from 1838 to 1846 when it was amalgamated with the London and North Western Railway (L&NWR). Its pioneering technological developments engineered by Robert Stephenson inaugurated the railway boom of Britain’s Industrial Revolution. The rail line started in Euston and ended in Birmingham, about 117 miles northwest. The stop after Euston was Camden Town. Due to an unsuitable access road at Camden Town, a passenger station was built at Chalk Farm Bridge in the early years. This view depicts the train emerging from the bridge with the city of London in the background. At right are the engine houses with tall chimneys.

Jubilee ball souvenir favor

Jubiläums Eisenbahn Ball 1848-1898

Souvenir favor of the Jubilee Railway Ball, February 3, 1898, Published by August Klein, Vienna.

This elegant ball souvenir celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Austrian state railway. It consists of an elaborate miniature card case bound in embossed leather with gilded metal appliqués framing a cameo style profile of Austrian Emperor Franz Josef. A relief of an engine that debuted in 1874 is suspended from a silk cord, and a thin pencil is inserted into leather closures along the edge. The interior contains 24 cards. These include a list of dances at the event, followed by scenic collotype views along different railway lines in Austria and surrounding countries.

Souvenir favor cards

Souvenir image

Train souvenir image

Train souvenir image

Souvenir train image

Collotype views included in the Jubiläums Eisenbahn Ball Favor

Johann Strauss portrait

back of Johann Strauss portrait

Carte de Visite style portrait of Johann Strauss the Elder printed by Ludwig Schrank, Vienna after an 1835 watercolor by Josef Nikolaus Kriehuber

Johann Strauss was a romantic composer whose music was played at balls and dances such as these railroad-affiliated events held in Vienna and New York. Strauss’s son Johann II was the author of the famous Blue Danube waltz (1866). This lithographic carte de visite was based on an original watercolor in the collection of the Wien Museum (Vienna).

Ball Invitation

Ball Program Cover

Ball Program of Dances

Ball Menu

Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen

The Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen was a fraternal benefit society and trade union established in 1873 in support of essential laborers on steam powered locomotives. The firemen were responsible for maintaining adequate levels of fuel to the engine by shoveling coal into the firebox at regular intervals. This was a dirty, physically demanding and dangerous occupation.

  • Invitation to the Third Annual Ball and Supper, November 25, 1885
  • Fourteenth Annual Ball (ca. 1896), Program of Dances and Menu


Sunset Limited Brochure cover

Sunset Limited brochure, inside pages

Brochure for the Sunset Limited, ca. 1895

Established in 1894, the Sunset Limited was the first southern rail service uniting the American coasts between New Orleans and San Francisco, after stopping in Los Angeles. Operated by the Southern Pacific Company, the train offered luxurious accommodations, as described and illustrated in this brochure. In 1895-96 the train service was increased from one train per week to two, due to popular demand.

The brochure provides a timetable of the stops along the route. It also describes in detail the various named cars of the train, which include a combined ladies’ parlor and drawing room, a dining car, and a smoking room for gentlemen.

The Wilton carpets, like the silk hangings at the windows and berths, harmonize with the general interior finish. The train is Pintsch-lighted, vestibuled throughout, and in every respect compares with the most palatial hotel, while it has all the conveniences and comforts of a luxurious home.

Southern Pacific Sunset Route Brochure cover

Southern Pacific Sunset Route brochure inside spread

The Winter in New Orleans: carnival, racing, French opera

Southern Pacific Sunset Route
(Passenger Department, Houston Texas, n.d.)

This promotional guide book produced for travelers on the Southern Pacific Sunset Route describes the pageants and history of the carnival, Mardi Gras Day, the theatres, the winter racing season, and other tourist highlights of the city of New Orleans. By the time this booklet was released, the ever-popular Sunset Limited had increased service to three departures per week. This schedule has remained constant since Amtrak took over the route in 1971.

Florida East Coast Railway map

Florida East Coast Railway brochure cover

Floriday East Coast Railway brochure illustration

Florida East Coast Railway: the Over-Sea Railroad

The Matthews Northrup Works (Buffalo, Cleveland and New York, n.d.)

This fold-out map appears as the centerfold of a travel brochure for the Florida East Coast Railway. It shows the rail and steamship routes from as far north as Jacksonville, ending at the Panama Canal in Colon. The Florida East Coast Railway (F.E.C.) was built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by Henry Morrison Flagler, an American Gilded Age entrepreneur who was the Standard Oil partner of John D. Rockefeller. This booklet is quite rare and may date to the late 1920s.

Baltimore Industrial brochure

Baltimore Industrial brochure inside page

Baltimore: Its Vast Industrial Advantages

by George W. Worsham, Jr.
Published by the Baltimore Association of Commerce, 1928

In this promotional booklet about the many benefits of residing in Baltimore, the chapter on machinery, equipment and raw materials includes a photograph of the Philip E. Thomas locomotive. Built at its Mount Clare shops in 1926, the locomotive is a class T 4-8-2 mountain locomotive, designed to pull trains faster over steep inclines. It was named for the founding president of the B&O Railroad.

Train-themed card

Train themed card

Train themed card

Train Themed Greeting Cards and Postcard

mid-20th century
various printings

The Impressionist painting reproduced in the postcard of trains passing under the Batignolles Bridge, Paris is by Claude Monet. Although there is no printed attribution, the watercolor train station on the folded greeting card may have been painted by British artist Anthony Gross (1905-1984). The view of a locomotive is by an unidentified artist.

Khrushchev's U.S. Train Tour

Nikita Khrushchev became the first Soviet Premier to visit the United States, along with his wife Nina, in 1959. It came about when he hosted American governors in Moscow in July of that year, and expressed interest in seeing the U.S. in person. Shortly thereafter an official invitation was issued from President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The two-week travel itinerary included special train tours along the west coast and the east coast. It was hoped Khrushchev’s U.S. visit would help thaw Cold War relations with the Soviet Union.

Train Luncheon Menu

Train Luncheon Menu

Train luncheon menu

Printed Luncheon Menu and Beverage Menu, Southern Pacific Special Train from Los Angeles to San Francisco, September 20, 1959

Train tour booklet in Russian

Train tour booklet in Russian

Train tour booklet map

Descriptive Booklet printed in Russian describing points of interest along the Pennsylvania Railroad between Washington and New York

Train tour press note

Press Note Accompanying Descriptive Booklet
Eisenhower's Goodwill Tour

In the winter of 1959-60, President Eisenhower made a 19-day goodwill tour of Europe and Asia, visiting eleven nations. He landed in Rome and then visited the capitals of Afghanistan, France, Greece, India, Iran, Pakistan, Spain, Tunisia, Turkey and Morocco (not in that order). He traveled via the S.N.C.F. (the French national railway) from Paris to Toulon, about 430 miles south on the Mediterranean coast of France.

The menu included soup, lobster, rice, lamb, green beans, cheeses, a dessert called Orange Surprise, and assorted fruit.

The presentation letter from the company that provided catering and sleeping car accommodations aboard various luxury rail lines mentions the recent visit of Jeremiah J. O’Connor to their office in the 12th arrondissement in Paris. The Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits also operated the famous trans-continental line known as the Orient Express.

Menu on Eisenhower's Train trip in France

Menu for the Special Train from Paris to Toulon During President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Goodwill Tour, December 18, 1959

Presentation letter

Presentation Letter from Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits, December 17, 1959

Exhibition curated by LuLen Walker, Art Collection Curator
Web page by Stephanie Hughes, Communications & Projects Coordinator