Ours is a special organization. Its membership includes talented and accomplished individuals from transportation and logistics firms, finance, the public sector, and the academic community. What brings us together is our mutual interest in the history of the great transportation enterprises that have built our nation and continue to shape the world around us. One of the most important things that our organization can do is to preserve the legacy of what past generations have accomplished. As the statesman Edmund Burke observed in 1790, “People will not look forward to posterity, who never look backward to their ancestors,” and his words are as true today as they were more than two centuries ago.
Like any worthwhile endeavor, the study of railroad history requires a substantial investment in time and money. This is where the Lexington Group – and you – can provide that vital assistance. At our 2018 Chicago meeting, many of you heard Don Hofsommer’s moving tribute to Richard C. Overton, one of the greatest of the transportation historians. In 2006 the Lexington Group honored Dick Overton’s legacy by establishing the Richard C. Overton Research Fellowship. Under the direction of Carlos Schwantes, Gregg Ames, and Ron Goldfeder, the Overton Committee awards fellowships of up to $2,500 to support research and publication in the field of transportation history.
Over the past year, the members of the Overton Committee have encountered a happy situation. There has been a bumper crop of proposals, five of which merit funding. They cover topics as diverse as the Good Roads Movement, South American railways, the commemoration of the sesquicentennial of the transcontinental railroad, St. Louis Union Station, and Trans World Airlines. The number and variety of outstanding proposals shows that transportation history is alive and well, and is destined for a bright future.
The downside? To fully fund each of these outstanding projects will require more money than the Lexington Group has traditionally budgeted for the Overton awards. Many of you pledged your support for the Overton Award, when you paid your annual dues, and we thank you for your contribution. The entire Board of Directors has contributed to this worthy cause, yet we are still short of the amount that we need.
Fortunately, one of our board members has made an extraordinarily generous offer. If we can raise $2,500 by March 31, 2019, the donor will match our contributions, dollar for dollar. We have already raised more than $1,000 toward the matching grant, leaving us less than $1,500 to go.
Please help us reach that target, and enable the Lexington Group to fully fund the Overton awards. Any contribution to the Overton Fellowship will produce a substantial return on your investment. Many recipients have observed that merely listing their status as an Overton honoree on their c.v. or resume has helped them to secure additional funding, or has increased their visibility on the job market. In a world where both universities and academic presses are experiencing budget cuts, Overton awards provide funds that can pay for research trips, photo-reproduction rights, and other expenses associated with the publication process. A number of superb scholarly works – including Tony Reevy’s book on the photography of Jack Delano and John Gruber’s profile of Lucius Beebe and Charles Clegg – have benefitted from Overton funding. Not only are such works informative and a pleasure to read, they also help to educate the public about the extraordinary economic, political, and social legacies of transportation enterprises.
Will you please help us to support the future of the Overton Award? With your additional pledges of support, we can certainly reach our target by March 31. If just thirty of our members – that’s less than ten percent of total membership – were to pledge $50 each, then we can reach our goal. But any amount is welcome, no matter how large or how small. And, because the Lexington Group is a 501(c)3 organization, all contributions are tax deductible. Because all of the Overton monies are kept separate from the day-to-day operating budget of the Lexington Group, all checks should be made payable to “The Lexington Group” with “Overton Fund” indicated in the memo line, and mailed to:
Carlos Schwantes, Chair
620 Spring Meadows Drive
Ballwin, MO 63011
Thank you for your kind attention to this matter, and we hope that we can count on your support!