Perkins, Wayne Collection A collection in Special Collections.

A Guide to the Wayne Perkins Collection, 1835-1986 Ms.2010.078

A collection in Special Collections.


Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech

Special Collections and University Archives, University Libraries (0434)
560 Drillfield Drive
Newman Library, Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, Virginia 24061

John M. Jackson

Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech
Wayne Perkins Collection,1835-1996
2.6 Cubic Feet, 8 boxes; 1 oversize folder
Physical Characteristics
2.6 cu. ft. 8 boxes, 1 oversize folder
English .
Collection of records, memorabilia, and photographs relating to a number of North American railroads but concentrating mostly the Norfolk & Western Railway. Also includes papers of various Southwest Virginia families and a small set of personal papers.

Administrative Information

Use Restrictions

Permission to publish material from Wayne Perkins Collection must be obtained from Special Collections, Virginia Tech. Photographs in Series IV which are attributed to a specific photographer may not be published without permission of the holder of rights to the image.

Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research.

Preferred Citation

Researchers wishing to cite this collection should include the following information: Wayne Perkins Collection, Ms2010-078, Special Collections, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Va.

Acquisition Information

The Wayne Perkins Collection was purchased by Special Collections in 2009.

Processing Information

The processing, arrangement, and description of the Wayne Perkins Collection commenced in October 2010 and was completed in December 2010.

The materials in this collection were part of a larger collection, which had been purchased in two accruals. The first accrual, purchased in 2008, was ultimately divided among several collections. Materials that were determined to relate specifically to the Norfolk & Western Railway, its predecessors and affiliates were processed as the Norfolk & Western Railway and Associated Companies Collection (Ms2009-037). The personal and working papers of Chapman J. French, a civil engineer employed by the company, were easily distinguishable and were processed as the Chapman J. French Papers (Ms2009-034). Materials that did not relate in any way to the N&W were separated into the following individual collections:

Mine Hill & Schuylkill Haven Railroad Stock Certificates (Ms2009-035) New River Mineral Company Stock Certificate (Ms2009-036) Philadelphia & Reading Railroad Receipts (Ms2009-038) Raleigh Coal & Coke Company Rail Spur Drawing (Ms2009-039) Reed Island Iron Company Receipts (Ms2009-040) Rock Island Lines Insurance Booklet (Ms2009-041) Sullivan Railroad Company Stock Certificate (Ms2009-042) Tennessee, Alabama & Georgia Railroad Annual Report (Ms2009-043) Tennessee, Alabama & Georgia Railway Annual Report (Ms2009-044) Thomas Wood and Company Freight Records (Ms2009-045) Virginia Iron, Coal and Coke Company Receipts (Ms2009-046)

Much of the 2009 accrual was likewise divided between the Norfolk & Western Railway and Associated Companies Collection and the Chapman J. French Papers. In examining the second accrual, however, it became clear that the materials had been accumulated by a single collector, and so materials that were unrelated to the N&W (together with materials that related to the N&W but were not company records) were processed as the Wayne Perkins Collection.

Biographical Note

Merrill Wayne Perkins, the son of Eli W. and Ethel Fielder Perkins, was born in Wythe County, Virginia in 1947. He married Elizabeth Williams and graduated with a degree in pharmacy from Virginia Commmonwealth University in 1971. He returned to Wythe County, working as a pharmacist in Wytheville. Among his personal activities, Perkins maintained memberships in the Wythe County Historical Society and the Train Collectors Association. Wayne Perkins died in Winston-Salem, North Carolina in 2004.

Scope and Content

This collection contains materials--mostly railroad-related--compiled by Wayne Perkins, a Wytheville, Virginia pharmacist and railroad enthusiast. The collection contains a wide array of materials--including business records, memorabilia and photographs--relating to a number of North American railroads. Significant among the materials are several items relating to early 19th-century railroads. The collection concentrates largely on the Norfolk & Western Railway, including ephemera produced by the company and materials produced by others about the company. The collection also includes assorted papers relating to various individuals and families (most from southwestern Virginia), apparently accumulated by Perkins in the course of collecting railroad materials. Also included are files relating to Perkins' involvement with various railroad enthusiast organizations, his model train hobby, and assorted personal papers.


The collection is arranged in four series:

Series I. Railroads and Associated Companies, 1835-1986. This series contains materials acquired by Perkins through his general interest in railroad history. The materials have no clear focus, though Norfolk & Western Railway materials comprise a large portion of the series. Included are a wide array of materials, including train passes, timetables, printed materials, business forms, legislative acts, train orders, company histories, ephemera and memorabilia. Of particular interest, perhaps, are an 1835 invitation to the opening of the Norwich and Worcester Railroad and an 1840 letter from the Bank Stock Railroad asking an unidentified minister to promote the railroad in his sermons. Also included in this series is a collection of dinner menus from several railroads, printed materials relating to the rail industry, and a set of souvenir buttons bearing railroad logos. This series is arranged alphabetically by business name, then by document type.

Series II. Individuals, Families and Businesses, 1881-1953. This series contains the papers of various people and companies apparently not directly connected to railroads but accumulated by Perkins in the course of pursuing his hobby. Included among the many disparate materials in the series are expense account records of F. W. Hawks, a cartographer working in Ohio. Also within the series are several pieces of correspondence between Robert L. Humphrey of Galax, Virginia and his sisters Mamie and Belle, together with some other Humphrey family-related papers. Also prevalent within the series are a number of bills of lading issued to G. W. Plumer, a Massachusetts merchant, and a set of telegrams between members of the Snidow-Dixon family in West Virginia and Southwest Virginia. A few freight bills issued to General G. C. Wharton may also be found in this series. Arranged alphabetically by surname.

Series III. Personal Papers, 1957-1996. Included in this small series are materials that relate to Perkins' personal life, though most of them are also connected to his hobbies. The series contains a folder relating to various railroad enthusiast organizations of which Perkins was a member and a folder relating to model railroading, including instructions, advertising matter, and other printed material. A very small selection of personal materials completes the collection and includes letters and ephemera, with some items relating to a George Wythe High School class of 1966 reunion. Arranged by subject matter.

Series IV. Photographs and Postcards, 1887-1987. This series contains images collected and created by Perkins and is devoted almost entirely to railroad-related subjects, including locomotives and other rolling stock; structures; and scenery. The series is divided into two subseries:

Subseries A. Photographs, 1887-1976. While a few of the images in this subseries seem to have been created by Perkins, and the creator of others is unknown, most of the photos are attributed to others. Included among these are significant collections from photographers C. W. Jernstrom and Harold K. Vollrath. As with the materials in Series I, the photos span subjects throughout North America, though there is a focus on the Norfolk & Western Railway. Included at the end of the photographs is a set of promotional photos for the Bendix-Feragen automobile frame-straightening system and a machine-pen autographed photo of Charles A. Lindbergh with his mother and the "Spirit of St. Louis." The railroad images are arranged by name of photographer, then by subject. Non-railroad images are grouped at the end of the subseries.

Subseries B. Postcards, [1906?]-1987. This subseries contains postcards collected by Perkins. While some have never been used, several of the older postcards include names and messages. Included at the end of the subseries are postcards depicting World War II-era combat aircraft and scenes from the southwestern United States. Railroad images are arranged alphabetically by company name, with non-railroad items grouped at the end of the subseries.

Separated Material

The following books were removed from the collection to be cataloged for the Rare Book Collection:

Burns, Robert E. and Stuart T. Saunders. The Inseparable Partnership: Education and Industry. New York: Newcomen Society, 1966.

Pettengill, Samuel Barrett. What Henry Ford Taught America. New York: America's Future, 1947.

The following map was removed from the collection and added to the Historical Maps Collection:

"Map of Roanoke County, Virginia, Compiled from Actual Surveys, Land Maps, and Data furnished by the Appalachian Electric Power Co., Virginia State Highway Dept., Norfolk & Western R.R., Virginian Railway" [C. B. Malcolm?], 1942.

Subjects and Indexing Terms

Container List

Series I. Railroads and Associated Companies,
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Series II. Individuals, Families and Businesses,
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Series III. Personal Papers,
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Series IV. Photographs and Postcards,
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Oversize Materials,
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