- Preserving Automotive History

Preserving Automotive History (May 17, 2020)

The March 2019 issue of Hemmings Classic Car featured a profile of the Society of Automotive Historians (SAH) on its fiftieth anniversary. This article appeared in March 2020 on the digital version of Hemmings Classic Car:

Author and automotive historian Jim Volgarino (Cedar Falls, IA) commented on this article, expressing a hope that the SAH would address the technical issues involved in preserving automotive history. Bob Schmitt (Burbank CA) and Helen Hutchings (Topeka KS) later exchanged emails with Jim on this topic. All are SAH members. This is a summary of the issues discussed:

1. Establish safe, online resources where information of all types is indexed and accessible for searching and access.

2. Review, endorse or draft archival standards to preserve paper-based materials and auto history artifacts on other media.

3. Identify or create an index of U.S. and worldwide digital archives, to include museums, public and private collections and libraries.

4. Encourage digitization of all automotive resources at all levels - individuals to institutions.

◦    Examples of private/individual collections which could be digitized are those of Jay Leno and Bruce Meyer5. Review, endorse or draft standards for digital item categorization to include Nomenclature 4.0, a standard/controlled vocabulary:

6. Recognize personal histories, oral and video interviews as automotive history sources.

7. Encourage coordination of digitization efforts at all levels to avoid duplication.

8. Recognize sources of non-automotive archival expertise such as the Library of Congress, The Smithsonian Institution, the Getty Research and Conservation Institutes, the HathiTrust and the British Museum.

9. Provide a method of timely communication between automotive historians. This could a forum, with postings organized by topic, membership should be private/controlled. 

10. Identify existing digital automotive archives, such as the AACA museum:  

and the REVS Institute:

11. Encourage donations of automotive history materials to institutions which will manage and preserve books, photos, documents to archival standards. See

12. Encourage SAH membership  SAH members can access all SAH publications in digital format on the SAH website. The SAH website also has a very comprehensive "Links" webpage:  

A Guide to Auto History Resources  

The link below is to a prototype "Auto History Resources", as outlined in goals #3 and #9, below.  There are 41 auto history resources currently on this Google Sheet: 

The Google Sheet link above is to a "read-only" Sheet.  You are invited to add resources on this Google Sheet:

The initial entries were made by members of the Society of Automotive Historians and the AACA.  The data from this Sheet has been transitioned to an Access 2019 database.  

Please email me (Bob Schmitt, with other database recommendations or any comments! 

The Forums

Two forums were created to promote this project.  Both are hosted on the AACA forum: 

Preserving Automotive History 

The Society of Automotive Historians

Email me with any comments, suggestions or questions!  Bob Schmitt,

Revised February 28, 2022