W.W. Embree Collection (DeKalb), 1881-1966
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Brief Description:

Waite W. Embree and his father, Elmer E. Embree, preserved most of the historical materials generated by the family’s business and social activities. Waite, especially, collected a large volume of printed materials and photographs that relate to his main interests--the history of DeKalb and the history of railroading. It is important to note that Embree was a collector: indeed, in the absence of an active county historical society, Waite Embree filled a void in DeKalb County with his keen interest in the preservation of the county’s past for many decades.

    Researchers should note that three record series originally accessioned in the Embree collection have been separated from it.  First, a photo morgue of approximately 13,000 negatives from the DeKalb Chronicle (1940-1956) has been returned to the newspaper.  Second, Embree’s postcard collection may be found in the Center’s postcard collection (RC 199).  Third, the artifacts and war posters have been added to the Page Museum Collection (UA 11) and the Oversize Collection (RC 200) respectively.     The Embree Collection, then provides excellent source material for research in family history, the history of the DeKalb area, and the evolution of railroads during the first half of the twentieth century.  The photographs, especially, provide a unique complement to the other manuscript collections held by the Center documenting DeKalb’s past.

Held at:
Northern Illinois University
Founders Memorial Library
Northern Illinois University
DeKalb, IL 60115
Phone: 815-753-1779
Email: rhcua [at] niu.edu
Record Series Number: RHC/RC/002
Volume: 63.5 Linear Feet
Acquired: 03/00/1967.
Arrangement:

The W.W. Embree Collection (RC 2) also falls into a logical series of record groups defined by Embree’s collecting activities. The first series (boxes one through seven) contains the family’s genealogy, correspondence, diaries, and records books. The Civil War correspondence found in box 6, folder 15 has been removed. A photocopy of the original letters is available for use by researchers. Series two (boxes eight through fifteen) documents through photographs, the streets, businesses, events, and groups of DeKalb from 1900 through the 1950's. The prints and negatives in this series can be used through a comprehensive index prepared by Waite Embree (see Appendix A)

Series three (boxes twenty-six through thirty-seven) also provides photographic documentation; in this group, the photos and negatives are of the Embree family and DeKalb area citizens. Boxes twenty-eight and twenty-nine contain photos of many DeKalb individuals and families which are arranged alphabetically by surname: an index can be found in Appendix B to this inventory.

Finally, the largest--and perhaps most significant--records series in the collection, series four (boxes forty through seventy-three), gives excellent photographic documentation of rail rolling stock in the Midwest during the period 1900-1950. The photographic prints and negatives illustrate various types of engines and are arranged alphabetically by railroad name, then by type of drive wheel configuration. Three indices arranged by railway, location, and general description are available for the prints and negatives. A large volume of printed materials which complements the photos include timetables, guides, promotional brochures, rail magazines, and approximately one hundred volumes on rail history. A former University Archivist added some volumes to this book collection and contributed a great deal of the organization of this whole series.

In keeping with the agreement concerning the donation of the collection to the University the integrity of arrangement by Embree has been respected whenever possible. The original collection contained four clearly identifiable sets of historical records and the inventory at hand details the largest and most significant of these sets of records.

Access Restrictions: There are no restrictions to the collection.
Subject Index
Adams, Thomas J.
Boy Scouts
Chicago and North Western Railway Company.
Chicago Great Western Railroad Company
Civil Works Administration (U.S.)
DeKalb (Ill.)--History.
Diaries, DeKalb
Diaries-- 1910-1960
Embree Family
Hemenway Family
Illinois Central Railroad Company
Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865--Pictorial works
Railroads
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Correspondence
Wagner Family
World War I
World War II
Wurlitzer Company
Genres/Forms of Material
Glass plate negative
Lantern slides.
Photographs
Tintype
Languages of Materials
English [eng]
Rights/Use Restrictions: Property rights in the collection are held by the Regional History Center; literary rights are dedicated to the public.
Acquisition Notes: Mrs. Waite Embree and Mr. George D. Embree  Mrs. Waite Embree and Mr. George D. Embree donated the Waite W. Embree Collection to the Regional History Collections of the University Archives in March 1967. Northern Illinois University Archivist J. Joseph Bauxar and history Professor Earl Hayter brought this collection to the University, thus preserving the single most significant group of historical records documenting the heritage of the DeKalb area. In the spring of 1978 Mr. Bauxar transferred the collection to the Regional History Center.
Related Materials: Researchers should note that three record series originally accessioned in the Embree collection have been separated from it. First, a photo morgue of approximately 13,000 negatives from the DeKalb Chronicle (1940-1956) has been returned to the newspaper. Second, Embree’s postcard collection may be found in the Center’s postcard collection (RC 199). Third, the artifacts and war posters have been added to the Page Museum Collection (UA 11) and the Oversize Collection (RC 200) respectively.