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The Vertical Files, 1910-2017

Identifier: 19-03-001

Scope and Content:

The Vertical Files contain a wide range of materials including official Wilkes College and Wilkes University documents, historical references, building plans, State and Federal paperwork, tourism information and guide pamphlets, photographs, correspondence, financial paperwork, personal documents, and academic and extracurricular program history. The files contain more than a century of data in this multitude of subjects, with the earliest files dating to 1910 and the latest to 2017.


  • 1910 - 2003


Open for research with some folders restricted due to sensitive or confidential information.

Historical Sketch:

The Vertical Files are a subject file collection created by Eugene S. Farley Librarians since the 1970s to around 2017. There was no criteria or discussion about what went into the subject files--if a librarian deemed the subject or item interesting/relevance/noteworthy, it went into the collection. Informal arrangement alphabetically by subject.


32 boxes

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The Vertical Files were contributed to by Farley Library reference librarians over the course of 40-50 years. If a reference librarian found something important, it would be added to the subject file. The collection was moved to the Archives in 2017 and has maintained original order.


The Wilkes University Archives received these Vertical files from the Eugene S. Farley’s Reference department in 2017.


Anyone can read or obtain copies of any of the materials for research purposes. Wilkes University retains copyright of the Wilkes content. The Lacy, Atherton, and Davis materials are in the public domain as a defunct company. Various government and state institutions retain copyright of the Pennsylvania and national documents.


Several files within the Vertical Files have some level of water damage, mostly dating to 1972 or earlier. The ones with this issue are marked as such, with a system to establish the damage done to each individual file. Furthermore, certain files suffer from the effects of advanced age and are deteriorating. These should be handled with care, and are without exception the oldest files in the collection.
All United Traction Paperwork pertains to the offices of the General Manager, Mr. C.F. Hewitt, the Vice President, Mr. H. B. Weatherwax, or the company president. All UT paperwork is also a minimum of 90 years old, very delicate, and should be handled with care. Water Damage: Minor water damage, documents in relatively good condition Moderate Water Damage: Documents in good condition, but mostly cannot be split apart, includes rusted paper clips and staples Heavy Water Damage: Documents in fair to poor condition, pages stuck together, partially damaged, may be in need of further preservation efforts Severe Water Damage: Documents in need of further preservation. Cannot be gotten apart, in poor condition, often stuck to old folders.

Processed by:

Trystan Griffiths, Fall 2020-Spring 2021 and Thomas Morgan, Summer 2021. Edited and supervised by Suzanna Calev, Archivist, Fall 2020.

Series Descriptions:

The Vertical Files are arranged into four series: Wilkes University Files, 1933-2017, Pennsylvania Vertical Subject Files, 1921-2002, Lacy Atherton and Davis Vertical Subject Files, 1940-1989, and National US Vertical Subject Files, 1910-2003.

Series I: Wilkes University Vertical Subject Files, 1933-2017

Series I: Wilkes University Vertical Subject Files, 1933-2017, is arranged alphabetically and contains blueprints, photographs, documents, memos, pamphlets, personal mail and documents, tests, and some books. All of these pertain to the history or prior operations of Wilkes University, however some files are marked as restricted due to the presence of personal information, such as resumes, staff payroll records, and student records.

Series II: Pennsylvania Vertical Subject Files, 1921 - 2002

Series II: Pennsylvania Vertical Subject Files, 1921-2002, is arranged alphabetically and contains documents, photographs, pamphlets, and relating to state history and data. A majority of these are related to the city of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, although a number of materials do contain information about other locales around the state, including statistics about Pennsylvania itself.

Series III: Lacy Atherton and Davis (LAD) Vertical Subject Files, 1940 - 1989

Series III: Lacy, Atherton, and Davis (LAD) Vertical Subject Files, 1940-1989, is arranged alphabetically and contains a variety of photographs of buildings and the construction thereof, as well as architectural blueprints and some of the financial information for the company. Lacy, Atherton, and Davis (LAD) was an architectural design company founded by John W. Davis, 1910-1968, James Oscar Lacy, 1918-2005, and Thomas Henry Atherton, 1884-1978, in 1945 in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Originally established as Lacy and Atherton in 1943, the company expanded to become Lacy, Atherton, and Davis in 1945 when John W. Davis joined the firm. Several local institutions in Northeastern Pennsylvania hired the architectural firm which included, but were not limited to, academic institutions such as universities and school districts, cities and towns, banking companies, churches, hospitals, and even a prison. The company operated through the 1980s, although it is unclear when it actually shut down.

Born in 1884, Thomas H. Atherton was a graduate of both Princeton University (1906) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1909). Initially a draftsman in New York, his architectural claims to fame emerged with his post-World War One work on the Pennsylvania Battle Monuments with Paul P. Cret and his 1929 Wilkes-Barre design for the Kirby Health Center. Atherton founded his own firm in 1941, being joined by James O. Lacy in 1943 and John W. Davis in 1945. Atherton retired from his firm and moved South in 1970, dying in 1978.

Born in 1910, John W. Davis graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1932 with a Bachelor’s of Science. He established his own firm in 1934, however it had shut down by 1941, leaving him to join Lacy and Atherton in 1945, forming Lacy, Atherton, and Davis. He became the head pf the Harrisburg branch of the company sometime around its establishment in 1956, and died in 1968.

Born in 1918, James Oscar Lacy graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1941. Much of his earliest career was spent designing runways during the War, until he joined up with Thomas Atherton’s company in 1943. He directed much of the company’s workings from the 1950s until his retirement in the early 1980s. Lacy led a quiet retirement in the Wyoming Valley until his death in 2005.

Series IV: National/U.S. Vertical Subject Files, 1910 - 2003

Series IV: National/U.S. Vertical Subject Files, 1910-2003, is arranged alphabetically and contains perhaps the greatest variety of subjects. This series contains files that pertain to states other than Pennsylvania or the national government, such as company records from New York, national-level programs, out-of-state geography, and old election results, as well as any files which cannot be categorized elsewhere. Some of these files are restricted due to the presence of federal paperwork.
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Repository Details

Part of the Wilkes University Archives Repository

84 W South St.
Wilkes-Barre PA 18701 US
570-408-7823 (Fax)