The importance of archival sources. With each map, tourist brochure, diary or photograph, we learn more about the highway—what it looked like, who used it, what it was like to drive it.

Archival information is useful not only to scholars and students, but to tourists looking to enrich their travel experience; property owners wanting to learn more about their building or business; local communities wanting to promote their town history; and government agencies responsible for managing aspects of the highway.

When historians want to tell the story of Route 66, they not only drive the road, they visit local libraries, archives, museums and universities in search of information. There they might find maps that document the highway’s alignments, photographs of long-vanished motels and other businesses, and oral histories revealing what it was like to travel or make a living along the road.

When historian Arthur Krim researched his book, Route 66: Iconography of the American Highway (2005), he not only consulted books already written about the highway, but mined the collections of the National Archives, the Federal Highway Administration, and other institutions, for documents and images like that from Cynthia Troup to enlarge his story.

The history of Route 66 is paved with paper! — postcards, photographs, maps, menus, travel accounts, and other primary source documentation.