Antique Automobile – From Bulletin to Digital
Written by Mike Reilly
Antique Automobile was first printed in 1937, about 2 years following the formation of the Antique Automobile Club of America in 1935. The AACA put out its 400th issue of Antique Automobile with the November/December issue from 2011* and I know this because I have recently finished scanning just about every issue of the publication. It was a long process spread out over the course of about a year. While that may sound like a really long time, the time spent working on the project was broken up by arrivals of new materials, new projects, and the simple desire for some variety other than scanning documents all day. Despite some of the monotony, it was really fun project that allowed me to discover not only how the magazine has changed over the years, but how the club has evolved as well.
Over the course of Antique Automobile’s run, there have been many different formats, layouts, and columns that have come and gone over the years. Despite these changes there are some sections and items that still remain today. The “Classifieds” area has been one such section that has survived the test of time. In the very first bulletin published in 1937, members were trying to sling cars like a 1912 Ford Runabout (sold by its original owner) and a 1910 Chalmers Roadster. That same first bulletin even had a “Cars Wanted” section with a member asking for any two-cylinder car, although he preferred a 1908 Reo Touring Car.
Antique Automobile has had many facelifts over the years, especially during its adolescence as it was still going through the growing pains of establishing a format. Early issues of the bulletin consisted of loose paper made on a mimeograph machine that was provided by Charles Duryea himself. Fun Fact: This original mimeograph machine can be seen on display when visiting the library here in Hershey. The 10th anniversary issue (1945, Vol. 9, No. 3) has a firsthand account of the history of the AACA and of Antique Automobile up to that point in time that is pretty fascinating to read.
In those early bulletins you can witness the club take its shape. Early on, members were frequently called upon to participate as editors asked for their help designing and choosing slogan ideas as well as the development of the AACA emblem that is still in use today. You can see the emblem change a bit during the 1939-1940 bulletins as it was edited to incorporate different specifics. The emblem was designed by Mr. Herbert van Haagen of Upper Darby, Pennsylvania. In the July, 1939 Bulletin (Vol. 3, No. 3) it is noted that the emblem was created “By using a three foot drawing of an emblem, designed by himself, together with a special set-up of apparatus for reducing to correct size…” The early bulletins state that it took many months to create the first brass emblem that the club would eventually sell as merchandise. In the AACA headquarters building, there is a plaster cast of what seems to have been used for these early brass emblems. Unfortunately, there is no documentation on this, nor is there an original brass emblem here to cross examine. If any members have one of these early emblems we would be interested in seeing a picture or view it in person.
Over the course of its life, Antique Automobile has covered many topics with and the publication even had several special issues. Some of the more notable issues are the 10th (1945, Vol. 9, No.3), 25th (1960, Vol. 24, No. 6), and 50th anniversary (1985, Vol. 49, No. 6) of the club along with other special events over the years. This includes the recaps of the Hershey Fall Meet and the AACA Annual meeting every year in the magazine. The 1959 Oct/Nov issue (Vol. 23, No. 5) was dedicated to the Glidden Tour providing history of the tour and information on the 1959 AACA Revival Glidden Tour. Other special features include the History of Pennsylvania Cars issue (1962, Vol. 26, No. 1), the Hupmobile issue (1968, Vol. 32, No. 4), and the Henry Ford Centennial issue of 1963 (Vol. 27, No. 5).
Being librarians, the history of our workplace peaked some interest. It was interesting to read through the library articles from those early days and see how the library has grown over the years. The idea of starting an AACA library was in discussion way back in 1940. In the April issue of the 1940 bulletin (Vol. 4, No. 1), there was an announcement “to form a club library of Automotive Literature with items pertaining to the automotive field both past and present.” It went on to ask members to send in materials to the club, which to this day is still the main source for filling our shelves. Although the idea to start a library came about so early on in the club’s formation, it wasn’t until 1977 that the library became a tangible reality as it procured the collection of Dr. Alfred S. Lewerenz from his Library of Transportation in Los Angeles, California. After obtaining the Lewerenz materials the library was given a space in the AACA Headquarters building as well as a full time librarian, Barbara Schneiter, to catalog and take care of the materials.
In 1979 the Library would hire its next full-time librarian, Kim Miller, who would helm the ship for almost 30 years. In the 1981 May/June issue of Antique Automobile (Vol. 45, No. 3) there is an article depicting how far the library had come in the short amount of time since its full time inception. The article gives a great look into the status of the library and its holdings at the time. Going forward from that article, the library grew exponentially and a new wing to the Headquarters broke ground in 1985 to house the expanding library as depicted in the 1985 July/August issue (Vol. 49, No. 4). There were many achievements along the way that you can track reading along with these old issues of Antique Automobile including the introduction article of current head librarian, Chris Ritter, in the January/February issue of 2009 (Vol. 73, No. 1).
I picked up a lot of random factoids and history of the AACA while digitizing this project. Much more than would fit on these pages. With everything digitized you can now view and own these old issues of Antique Automobile as well. Whether you’d just like to take a trip down memory lane or start a new journey to the past you never witnessed, you can now purchase the complete digitized collection of Antique Automobile from the library. All issues will be text searchable and compact enough to view on just about any computer. We will also include indexes that have been prepared over the years to help you search for specific topics. The text searchable feature allows you to type in a phrase or term in individual issues and the document will find those terms and highlight them on the page for you.
When you purchase your own USB drive you will receive the collection of Antique Automobile on an 8GB souvenir USB Flash Drive laser etched with the AACA Library & Research Center’s logo on it for you to show off to all your friends. The USB drives cost $99.95 and can purchased Right Here on our Website, in person, or by giving us a call at 717-534-2082.