Robert W. Eichelberg Papers, [circa 1890]-1983,  (bulk 1950-1960)

Scope and Content Note

The collection is divided into several series, based on format: Photo Albums, Negatives, Photographs, and Printed Material. The majority of the collection consists of photographs and negatives, taken predominately in the 1950's, presumably by Eichelberg. The original order of the material was maintained whenever possible, and some of the descriptions offered below reflect the original label text, which may or not be accurate. Images were taken largely in Wisconsin, but Illinois and Iowa are also well represented. Many of the photographs are stamped with Eichelberg's identifier, but other stamps indicative of other photographers are found in the collection, including Edwin Wilson, Alvin Lea, and Kaufmann & Fabry and Co., a commercial photography firm located in Chicago. Many of the photographs capture the declining years of the electric interurban and streetcar systems. (The last electric streetcar in Milwaukee was discontinued on March 2, 1958). Eichelberg photographed retired and abandoned streetcars, and in one case, the dismantling of a streetcar. A few reprints of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century photographs (denoted as reprints in the list below by the use of brackets) offer interesting views of downtown Milwaukee. Other images show mid-century Milwaukee-area street scenes.

Eichelberg identified his negatives variably using the following terms: engines or electric railways, railroad and railway companies, dates and locations where the photographs were taken, route numbers, individual car numbers and types of views. A few interior streetcar views are included in this series. The negatives retain Eichelberg's own descriptive system, and their organization at the time of donation to the Archives is intact.

The printed material contains rail-related documents dating largely from the 1940's and 1950's, including Chicago & North Western Railroad Operating Department Rule Books and employee time tables, train schedules from various companies, and A Street Railway Guide of Milwaukee including Motor Bus Routes published by the Milwaukee Electric Railway and Light Company circa 1924. Newspaper clippings, largely from the Milwaukee Journal and the Milwaukee Sentinel, relate to train wrecks, tower fires, anniversary runs, last rides of streetcars and interurbans, dedications and advertisements of new trains, and the 1949 Railroad Fair in Chicago, Illinois.