Center for Railroad Photography & Art acquires Jim Shaughnessy collection

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Double-headed Canadian Pacific 2-8-2s power a freight at Cookshire, Quebec, in 1956.
Jim Shaughnessy
MADISON, Wis. – Nearly 100,000 significant images of railroading will be preserved for future generations thanks to the Madison-based Center for Railroad Photography & Art. The nonprofit has acquired the collection of New York-based photographer Jim Shaughnessy.

The collection includes about 60,000 black-and-white negatives, 30,000 color slides, and some glass plate negatives.

“This is why we’re working so hard to institutionalize the Center,” President and Executive Director Scott Lothes says, referencing the group’s efforts to build a foundation for such acquisitions. “We couldn’t be more excited to take on the Shaughnessy collection and make it available.”

Lothes made the announcement at the group’s annual Conversations conference held at Lake Forest College in suburban Chicago April 13-15.

The acquisition started more than a decade ago, Lothes says, and comes from the work of several of the Center’s board members, including Jeff Brouws, Bon French, and Kevin Keefe, who worked with Jim and his wife Carol to secure the collection for the Center. The Center’s holdings include images from Wallace W. Abbey, John F. Bjorklund, J. Parker Lamb, Ted Rose, and other photographers.
Jim Shaughnessy at the 2016 Conversations Northeast conference in Storrs, Conn.
Scott Lothes
Shaughnessy is known for his coverage of the Northeast U.S., living near Albany, N.Y., for much of his life, giving him considerable coverage of the Delaware & Hudson. He made several trips out West, including to Sherman Hill to document the last of the mighty Union Pacific Big Boys in the 1950s and, and to New England and Canada to see the end of Canadian Pacific steam operations in the early 1960s.

The organization will receive the collection in batches; the first is expected to arrive later this spring. Center staff will start with an inventory of the collection as they begin to process the images. Lothes expects that the staff will prioritize the oldest works first and notes that the Center will keep the collection intact.

Shaughnessy’s work has appeared many times in Trains and Classic Trains magazines. In Fall 2007, Classic Trains launched a recurring series called “The Shaughnessy Files” that ran until 2017. “He really has a fire for publication that burned bright all his life,” Lothes says.

For more information about the Center and its collections, go to
A Boston & Maine passenger train with E7 No. 3818 rolls under a covered bridge at Bath, N.H., in 1953.
Jim Shaughnessy

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