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St. Louis Car Company Collection

This collection has are a wealth of information for anyone interested in the history of transportation, especially trolleys, busses, and interurban railway cars. This guide provides sugestions for locating and using this information

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the collection online?

Only a few items from the collection are available online in digital format: Series 01 — PCC sales brochure, Series 02 — Specifications for PCC construction, 1941 and 1947, Series 04 — Cardinal Aircraft Sales brochure, and a sampling of photographs from Series 05.

To locate other items of interest in the collection please review the online inventory (finding aid) linked below. and note the series number, box number, and folder/item.

How can I see the collection? Can anyone use it?

We are open to the public and no University affiliation is required.

Visit in person:  If you are in, or will be traveling through, the St. Louis area you are most welcome to visit and see the original materials.  Please contact our department before your visit, especially if you are traveling, to insure the specific items you want to see are available.  Some materials are stored off-site or require special handling due to size, and therefore require several days advance notice may be required.   For details on planning your trip, see: https://library.wustl.edu/spec/access/

Make a request by phone or email: Our department's reference staff can provide you basic information about materials in the collection related to specific St. Louis Car Company products or topics, and provide a cost estimate for obtaining digital copies of those items.  If you have many research questions (such as what economic factors went in to the implementation of single ended, over double ended cars) you will need to visit in person, or  hire a local freelance researcher to visit on your behalf.  Contact us for more information.

How do I find what I need in the archive?

Look at the online finding aid for topics and general subjects related to your area of interest.  Click "Detailed Description" to expand the full list of information. Then browse, or use a word search (Ctr+F). **See below for more tips on searching:

Looking for photographs or images of a specific product or order?  Search Series 5 of the Finding Aid for the Job Order number

Looking for a drawing, wiring, or technical schematic? These are located in Series 6, and are very large hand-drawn plans.   Drawings were often used for multiple orders, and it is rare to have a full set for any given order. Drawings for prospective customers are "Inquiry" or INQ drawings and in many cases were bids never actually manufactured. Drawing numbers were assigned by the original draftsmen, and in no way correspond to the order's job number or car number.  Often creative searching is needed to locate potentially useful drawings.

Trying to determine an original paint color? Occasional there are color images or swatches attached to images in Series 5.  Very occasionally job order notes in series 3 states what color the order was to be painted. Most commonly the order will only have a note, such as 'paint to customer specifications.'

Information about a specific contract, order, or purchase price? Check Job order books in Series 3, which were notebooks maintained by sales staff.

I am trying to find out about someone who worked at St. Louis Car Company?  There are no personnel or HR files within the archives.  There are some files related to the board of directors and top executives in Series 4. There are also candid images of employees and workspaces in Series 5, although in most cases names are not identified.

**The following information is helpful when searching through the collection's inventory (finding aid):

Customer Name (original purchaser)  and  City / State

Date (month/date/year) of purchase / order / delivery

Job Order number

Type of Car  (Double-ended / Single-ended? PCC?  Trolley?  Bus?  Interurban?)

(optional)  Number of cars purchased under Job Order  and Car numbers as assigned by customer 

If relevant, Type of Trucks and Truck number

**Much of this information can be located by consulting the index compiled by Alan R. Lind, and published in From Horsecars to Streamliners : An Illustrated history of the St. Louis Car Company.  A digitized copy of this index is available as pdf below.

NOTE: The Lind index is the most comprehensive list of orders produced by the St. Louis Car Company.  HOWEVER, not every order has information in the archive, so it is important to carefully check the finding aid to determine what is available in the collection.

Books

These books are available to researchers at Special Collections. Please note the location code, call number and title when requesting.