Railway Express Agency

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The Railway Express Agency had its origins in the overland stagecoach and pony express services that linked the eastern and western U.S. prior to the building of the transcontinental railroad. In the railroad era, express companies worked with the railroads in handling door-to-door freight shipping. By 1914 there were seven major express companies, and these were consolidated by the Federal Government during World War I into the American Railway Express Agency. In the late 1920s a group of U.S. railroads purchased the company and changed its name to the Railway Express Agency, Inc. It had a monopoly on the shipment of freight on railroads and was obliged to ship all manner of goods, including motion pictures, circus animals, and hazardous materials. In 1960 the company adopted the trade name REA Express. In 1961 it formed a trailer leasing company called REA Leasing Corporation, and in 1965 it joined with Seven Arts Associated Corp. and Travel Theaters, Inc., to form REA Express-Seven Arts Transvision Inc.

By the mid 1970s the company's profits were decreasing due, in part, to the domination of the railroad companies, high inflation, and a decline in express shipments. In 1975 it filed for Chapter XI bankruptcy.

From the guide to the Railway Express Agency records, 1881-1967, (Oregon Historical Society)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Alabama Public Service Commission. Administrative files, 1920-1964. Alabama Department of Archives and History
referencedIn Grinker, Loyal. Loyal and Sidney Grinker papers, 1922-1967, 1974-1990. Milwaukee Jewish Historical Society
referencedIn Don Ball, Jr. Railroad Photograph Collection., undated, 1895-1975. Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center.
referencedIn D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles Archives, 1929-1995 and undated David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
referencedIn Cole, David Lawrence, 1902-1977. Series 3. Emergency Boards materials, 1948-1958. Cornell University Library
creatorOf Railway Express Agency records, 1881-1967 Oregon Historical Society Research Library
referencedIn Deane, Ernie. Air Express, Little Rock, Ark., November 16, 1963 [Men with boxes in front of car] [graphic] / Ernie Deane [photographer]. Arkansas History Commission
creatorOf Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. Director's Office Records, 1955-1977. Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, The Clark
referencedIn Express Mail Collection, 1890-1966. Natural History Museum Los Angeles County Foundation, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
referencedIn Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Lines. Office of Secretary-Treasurer. Secretary's record papers, 1866-1976. Hagley Museum & Library
referencedIn Pennsylvania Railroad Company. Financial Dept. Records, 1899-1971. Hagley Museum & Library
referencedIn Brookfield Zoo Archives. [Robert Bean with Emperor penguins] [graphic] / [Brookfield Zoo archives]. Chicago Zoological Society
referencedIn Deane, Ernie. Air Express, Little Rock, Ark., November 16, 1963 [Truck at railway station] [graphic] / Ernie Deane [photographer]. Arkansas History Commission
referencedIn United States. Emergency Board no. 52. Files, 1947. Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Martin P. Catherwood Library, Cornell University.
referencedIn William B. Wisdom collection of Thomas Wolfe, 1909-1959. Houghton Library.
creatorOf Railway Express Agency. Railway Express Agency records, 1881-1967. Oregon Historical Society Research Library
referencedIn Pendergast, William Wirt, 1833-1903. William Wirt Pendergast and family papers, 1816-1986. Minnesota Historical Society, Division of Archives and Manuscripts
creatorOf Arts Club of Chicago. Arts Club records, 1892-1995. Newberry Library
creatorOf Railway Express Agency. [Pamphlets. Economic aspects.]. Yale University Library
referencedIn Pennsylvania Railroad Company. Financial Dept. Records of Vice President A. J. County, 1902-1938 (bulk 1925-1938). Hagley Museum & Library
referencedIn Lore Parker Papers, 1950-1979 and undated David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
referencedIn Deane, Ernie. Air Express, Little Rock, Ark., November 16, 1963 [Loading fragile box onto plane] [graphic] / Ernie Deane [photographer]. Arkansas History Commission
referencedIn Santa Fe Railroad Collection RG D 004., 1897-1968 Houston Metropolitan Research Center, Houston Public Library,
referencedIn Deane, Ernie. Air Express, Little Rock, Ark., November 16, 1963 [Loading boxes into truck] [graphic] / Ernie Deane [photographer]. Arkansas History Commission
referencedIn Deane, Ernie. Air Express, Little Rock, Ark., November 16, 1963 [Two men loading boxes onto plane] [graphic] / Ernie Deane [photographer]. Arkansas History Commission
referencedIn Deane, Ernie. Air Express, Little Rock, Ark., November 16, 1963 [Three men loading boxes on plane] [graphic] / Ernie Deane [photographer]. Arkansas History Commission
referencedIn Mooers, John Hooker, 1885-1970. John Hooker Mooers scrapbook, 1955. Cornell University Library
referencedIn United States. Emergency Board No. 111. Transcripts and exhibits, 1955. Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University Library
creatorOf Railway Express Agency. [Miscellaneous pamphlets about the history and services of the Railway Express Agency and its affiliate, Air Express : also discussion of parcel post vs. private express companies]. Chicago History Museum
referencedIn Papers, 1840-1961. Harvard Law School Library, Harvard University.
referencedIn Deane, Ernie. Air Express, Little Rock, Ark., November 16, 1963 [Man driving cargo cart] [graphic] / Ernie Deane [photographer]. Arkansas History Commission
referencedIn United States. Emergency Board No. 111. Transcripts and exhibits, Emergency Board no. 111, 1955. Wage-rules case. International Brotherhood of Teamsters and Brotherhood of Railway Clerks vs. Railway Express Agency. Cornell University Library
referencedIn Papers, 1853-2005 (inclusive), 1939-2003 (bulk). Houghton Library.
Role Title Holding Repository
Direct Relationships
Relation Name
associatedWith Alabama Public Service Commission. corporateBody
associatedWith Arts Club of Chicago. corporateBody
associatedWith Ball, Don, Jr. person
associatedWith Brotherhood of Railway Clerks. corporateBody
associatedWith Cole, David Lawrence, 1902-1977. person
associatedWith D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles corporateBody
associatedWith Deane, Ernie. person
associatedWith Eccles, Mary Hyde. person
associatedWith Hand, Learned, 1872-1961 person
associatedWith Mooers, John Hooker, 1885-1970. person
associatedWith Parker, Lore person
associatedWith Pendergast, William Wirt, 1833-1903. person
associatedWith Pennsylvania Railroad Company. Financial Dept. corporateBody
associatedWith Pennsylvania Railroad Company. Financial Dept. corporateBody
associatedWith Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Lines. Office of Secretary-Treasurer. corporateBody
associatedWith Santa Fe Railroad corporateBody
associatedWith Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Emergency Board No. 111. corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Post Office Dept. corporateBody
correspondedWith Wisdom, William B., 1900-1977 person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Northwest, Pacific
United States--Northwest, Pacific
Subject
Express service--History
Express service--Employees--Labor unions
Railroads--Northwest, Pacific--History
Labor unions--History
Labor unions
Express service--United States--Northwest, Pacific--History
Labor unions--Northwest, Pacific--History
Railroads--History
Delivery of goods
Railroads
Parcel post
Labor History
Occupation
Function

Corporate Body

Active 1881

Active 1967

Information

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Ark ID: w6k40g25

SNAC ID: 3651523