Collections Policy

April 5, 2012

Iowa railroad history is being lost almost daily as people discard or destroy accumulated possessions. What is thrown away may be of value to future researchers studying the impact of railroads in Iowa. The James H. Andrew Railroad Museum and History Center (MUSEUM) encourages people to contact the museum to determine if material has historical significance for our collections.

The Iowa Railroad Museum and History Center is an independent 501 (c) 3 organization that is closely affiliated with the Iowa Railroad Historical Society (IRHS). The IRHS is a 501 (c) 3 organization that operates the Boone and Scenic Valley Railroad. Each organization has a separate board of directors that provides guidance and direction for its individual activities. The MUSEUM is governed by the MUSEUM Foundation Board. All employees of the MUSEUM report to the General Manager of the Boone and Scenic Valley RR.

The mission of the MUSEUM is to identify, record, collect, preserve, and provide access to evidence of the railroad history of Iowa from the construction of the first railroad in Iowa in 1855 to the present. To further this mission the MUSEUM collects and preserves artifacts and archival records related to railroad history in Iowa. Equally important, we initiate and promote research, publications, exhibits and programs, and collaborate with other organizations and institutions.

The MUSEUM does not provide monetary appraisals or authentication of historical materials. Assistance in these areas may be obtained by contacting local antique and other specialty appraisers or visiting the Web sites of appraisers who specialize in railroad history. Material is processed, cataloged, preserved and stored according to current best practices. Artifacts and archival materials are available on a limited basis, subject to staff or qualified volunteer availability, for research and interpretive needs. The Acquisitions Policy below provides guidance for making donations to our collections.

Museum Historical Collections

The MUSEUM Historical Collections represent the MUSEUM’s main collecting effort and consists of materials documenting the history of railroads in Iowa. The collections are housed in the MUSEUM’s Museum located at 225 10th St. in Boone, IA. Additional storage space is located in other buildings and equipment owned by the Iowa Railroad Historical Society. The museum facility offers a secure, year-round, controlled environment for preserving items.

Acquisition Policy

The MUSEUM solicits artifacts, archival records and other materials of historical railroad significance that contribute to a clearer understanding of past activities and customs, or are associated with important events, periods, or personalities.

The primary focus will be on artifacts, archival material, stories, and people associated with railroads and railroad operations in Iowa. A secondary focus will be on items associated with items from other states where railroads with an Iowa presence operated.

Historical items come to the MUSEUM mainly as donations or bequests from individuals and organizations, but occasionally by loan or formal agreement. Acquisition by direct purchase is also possible. All offers are given careful consideration.

A Deed of Gift form is completed for material accepted. This document establishes the donor’s clear title to the material and transfers it to the MUSEUM. Donations to the MUSEUM are tax deductible under relevant state and federal laws.

Items that are accepted will be catalogued into a specific collection. When an item is included in a collection, it will be catalogued, numbered, and photographed. The donor will be acknowledged in the record of the transaction. It will be preserved using current museum best practices within the resources of the MUSEUM. Items may be displayed in periodic displays and will be stored in a secure environment, but not all items will be displayed at all times. Items in a collection may not be sold, but may be lent to other museums for a period of up to one year.

Relevance to Iowa

In all instances preference will be given to items in good condition with a well-documented Iowa connection, i.e. created by or significant to Iowa residents, organizations, businesses, and government. The MUSEUM seeks to build a special focus of items that illustrate how railroads developed and evolved; the communities served; the people and freight transported on railroads; the crafts and skills needed to finance, operate, and maintain railroads; and the people who worked for railroads or were significantly affected by railroad construction and operation. Types of potential donations solicited:

  • Archival material (non-current records of enduring value created by railroads, unions, organizations and individuals in the conduct of their affairs)

Examples: passenger fare media; passenger timetables, newsletters, magazines, newspaper articles, maps

  • Artifacts (objects made or modified by human beings) with a strong Iowa railroad connection (created or used by employees, passengers, or freight customers in a significant manner).
  • Historical periods (before 1980)

Examples: railcar equipment; track equipment; kerosene lanterns; railroad logos; switch keys; office supplies

  • Contemporary period (1980 to present)

While historians usually concentrate on periods older than 50 years, museums must collect material, particularly ephemera, of contemporary life while it is still easily available.

Example: Maps, timetables, digital photos

  • Special Collections
    • Railroad history outside of Iowa, with Iowa connection

Duplicate Items

Items that are received and are duplicates of existing items will be evaluated for their condition and retained or disposed of through sales in the Boone & Scenic Railroad gift shop or through an auction process that maximizes net revenue to the MUSEUM.

Some items with minimal or no relevance to Iowa railroads will be accepted with the intention of disposition to enhance the collections. Items that are railroad in nature, but not specific to Iowa or its railroads, will be accepted and used to maximize benefit to the MUSEUM.

Items may be traded with other museums that have a focus on the non-Iowa railroad item that was donated. The trade items will be similar in value and will be acquired in order to enhance the Iowa nature of our collection. Duplicate items may also be donated to local Iowa non-railroad history museums to enhance their collection of railroad material.

Deaccession Policy

Reappraisal of objects in the collections is an ongoing part of responsible collection management. Circumstances triggering re-evaluation may include an evolving acquisition policy, changing collecting focus, space or environmental constraints, disasters, etc. The process begins when the museum administrator or staff identifies an object or objects in the collections that seem questionable given current guidelines. The Collections Committee, an advisory group to the Administrator, meets monthly, or as needed, when the Administrator or Committee members perceive a need to discuss and resolve non-routine acquisition or deaccessioning issues.

After discussion and agreement among the Committee, a listing is made briefly describing the object, means of acquisition, reason(s) and preferred method for disposal. This list is submitted to the Board of Directors for final approval, and the Accessions Register is updated accordingly.

In the event that the Committee does not reach agreement, the Museum Director will prepare a report to the Board of Directors providing the rationale for and against removing the object. Final decision will be made by the Board of Directors.

Criteria for Deaccession

A decision to withdraw an object from the collection is most frequently based on the following criteria:

  • object is no longer appropriate to the collections
  • object has been inadvertently duplicated by another accession
  • object lacks physical integrity (damaged or deteriorated beyond repair)
  • the MUSEUM is unable to preserve the object properly
  • object is not extant due to theft, fire, flood, etc.
  • an identical object in better condition or provenance has been acquired
  • an exceptional and reasonable request for return has been made by the donor/family

The disposition of objects may be achieved by the following means in order of preference:

  • donate to another historical society, museum or archive
  • trade
  • sell
  • discard

Sale Revenue

Any funds resulting from the sale of de-accessioned objects may only be used for collections purposes (acquisition or preservation), not general operating expenses. These funds will be in a restricted account and a quarterly report will be presented to the Board of Directors stating the sales proceeds, items awaiting disposition, and items purchased with this revenue source.

Prohibited Activities

The Society does not permit the sale or gift of de-accessioned objects directly to its employees, officers, board of directors or members. De-accessioned objects cannot be lent to employees, officers, board of directors or members while disposition is pending.

Current Collections

The MUSEUM has several collections that document the impact of railroads on Iowa’s cities, rural areas, manufacturing, and the people who were involved in the design, operation, and maintenance of the rail network. The collections consist of artifacts, archives, and specific material for the individual collections. Items from various collections will be mixed to illustrate specific museum programs or displays and returned to their collection at the end of the display.

James H. Andrew Collection

The James H. Andrew collection was developed by James H. Andrew of Jefferson, Iowa. It consists of more than 4,000 items created and used by railroads in Iowa. A 1/3 scale depot based on the CNW Jefferson Depot houses a large portion of the collection.

Lloyd Nelson Track Maintenance Collection

Lloyd Nelson was a track foreman for the Fort Dodge, Des Moines, and Southern Railroad. He worked for the Fort Dodge Line for his entire career. Lloyd was instrumental in guiding the Boone and Scenic Valley track department from inception in 1984 to his death. The collection includes a variety of track maintenance equipment used by Lloyd during his career with the Fort Dodge Line.

Museum General Collection

This collection includes a variety of items used generically by many of the railroads in Iowa. It includes Federal Railroad Administration documents, Interstate Commerce Commission documents as well as supplies and materials that were common to many railroads.

Trunk Line Railroads of Iowa

This collection focuses on the primary Class I and Class II trunk lines that laced together the State of Iowa. It includes all of the Class I and Class II railroads that served Iowa including their predecessors and successors. Examples include:

  • Chicago and Northwestern
  • Milwaukee Road
  • Illinois Central
  • Rock Island
  • Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy
  • Iowa Northern
  • Iowa Interstate
  • Great Northern
    Union Pacific
  • Wabash
  • Santa Fe
  • Soo Line
  • CP Rail
  • Norfolk Southern
  • Canadian National

Electric Railroads of Iowa

This collection focuses on the Electric Railroads that operated freight and passenger service in Iowa including their predecessors and successors. Examples include:

  • Iowa Traction
  • Fort Dodge, Des Moines, and Southern
  • Waterloo, Cedar Falls, and Northern
  • Southern Iowa
  • Des Moines and Central Iowa
  • Clinton, Davenport, and Muscatine
  • Cedar Rapids and Iowa City
  • Tama and Toledo

Switching and Terminal Railroads of Iowa

This collection focuses on the switching and terminal railroads that served multiple railroads in large cities or provided independent switching functions at large manufacturing plants in Iowa. Examples include:

  • Keokuk Junction
  • Des Moines Union Terminal
  • Davenport, Rock Island, and Northwestern

Urban Passenger Railroads

This collection focuses on urban horse car, steam, cable, and electric railroads that served primarily passengers in many cities and small towns in Iowa and their predecessors and successors. Examples include:

  • Ames and College
  • Red Oak Street Railway
  • Boone Street Railway
  • Boonesboro
  • Marshalltown
  • Iowa City
  • Des Moines

Railroad Personnel Collection

The people who built, operated, financed, and maintained Iowa’s railroads are responsible for the success of the railroad industry. Their stories are critical to understanding the daily operation of railroads and how those operations have evolved. This collection consists of recorded history of railroad workers, collections of personal histories, and a focus on the individuals who devoted their working life to the railroad industry.

Ship By Rail Collection

Without products and commodities, there would be no need for railroad transportation. This collection documents the items that were shipped by rail; how they were prepared for shipment, loaded, and unloaded. Primary sources of raw materials, finished products and their origins and destinations are included in this collection.

Model Railroad Collection

The model railroad collection consists of a variety of high quality models that show typical Iowa railroad activity. The collection consists of individual locomotives, cars, buildings as well as dioramas. Space is limited for this collection and portions of a donation may be incorporated into the museum and other portions may be disposed according to policy.

Napier Depot

The Napier Depot will be developed as a complementary facility to the MUSEUM. Display and admission policies will be developed.

Financial Support

Because of the nature of historical materials, their storage, preservation, processing and cataloging incur ongoing costs. Therefore, we invite donors of large collections to also consider providing financial support to sustain the viability of their material gifts. Financial contributions can be large or small, and can be made on a one-time basis or annually. This funding is used to offset the costs of extra processing time, preservation and any necessary professional conservation. Financial support accompanying gifts of historical material assists substantially in extending the life for your legacy.

The MUSEUM is permitted to seek private endowment and organization grants as well as local, state, and federal government grants. Local funding is provided through a portion of train ticket sales and an admission charge to the museum.

Contact Information

We are enthusiastic about the preservation of Iowa Railroad History.

Please contact us at:

By phone: Mike Wendel, Administrator 515-432-4249

By e-mail: [email protected], [email protected]

By mail: James H Andrew Museum, PO Box 603, Boone, Iowa 50036

Visit us at: 225 10th Street, Boone, Iowa 50036