The Transportation History Collection of the Special Collections Library counts amongst it holdings the archive of the original Lincoln Highway Association (1910-1927). The Association was made up of representatives from the automobile, tire, and cement industries, with the goal of planning, funding, constructing, and promoting the first transcontinental highway in North America. The route, consisting of both existing and newly-built roads following the most direct route possible, ran from New York to San Francisco, covering approximately 3,400 miles.
The Lincoln Highway Association archive was donated to the University of Michigan's Transportation Library in 1937. The archive, transferred to the Special Collections Library in 1992, consists of materials from the central office in Detroit dating from 1912 up through the late 1930s. There are letters, manuscript trip logs, minutes of meetings of the Board of Directors, reports, contracts, financial statements, drawings, press releases, maps, brochures and guides, including the 1928 logbook of Lincoln Highway markers made by local Boy Scouts, and photographs. The photographic portion of the archive consists of approximately 3,000 images, including views of construction underway, towns and cities, markers, bridges, cars, camp sites, scenic views, and snapshots of Association directors and field secretaries traveling the route.
A generous grant from the University of Michigan's Friends of the Library, in 1999, funded the first phase of a project to digitize the photographs of the Lincoln Highway Association. An additional monetary gift, presented in 2006 by the reconstituted Lincoln Highway Association, allowed the digitization project to be completed in 2007. Through the collaboration of staff in the Special Collections Library and Digital Library Production Service, over 3,000 photographs have been scanned, digitized, provided with descriptive captions (many based on the original text provided by the Association), and mounted on the web. The original alphanumeric identifiers have been retained and are searchable, as are the state or section names. City, county, and town names, personal names, and other descriptive elements, may be included in the caption and will also be searchable. The following states and sections are available for viewing: California, Yosemite, Nevada, Victory Highway, Midland Trail, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois, Ideal Section, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey (includes New York), H.C. Ostermann, Portraits, Miscellaneous, and General.