The Society of Automotive Historians

James J. Bradley Distinguished Service Award

The James J. Bradley Distinguished Service Award is presented by The Society of Automotive Historians to deserving museums, archives, and libraries for exemplary efforts in preserving motor vehicle resource materials.  The Award is presented at the Society’s Awards Banquet held yearly at the Hershey County Club, Hershey, PA, during the Fall Meet of the Eastern Region of the Antique Automobile Club of America.

Each year, the Society recognizes significant contributions to the publishing, documentation, and preservation of the worldwide history of the motor vehicle.  Awards are given for publishing in print (books, articles and magazines) and non-print media (film, video, audio, websites, etc.).In addition, awards are made for papers authored by undergraduate and graduate-level students at educational institutions.  

Mr. Bradley, for whom the award is named, spent more than 25 years with the Detroit Public Library. In 1953, he joined the library and in 1955 the library’s Automotive History Collection. By 1958, he became the head of the Automotive History Collection. Auto history was his life and that positive relationship and great knowledge for automobiles was introduced to the people and auto historians he met throughout his life time.

Mr. Bradley graduated from St. Norbert’s College in Wisconsin and received his M.S. in Library Science degree from the prestigious Carnegie Library School in Pittsburgh. During World War II he served on General Eisenhower’s staff in London, Paris, Berlin and Algiers. Mr. Bradley was also a member of the Board of Directors of the Society of Automotive Historians, a former president of Car Care Council, and a member of the Special Libraries Association, the Antique Auto Club of America and the Friends of the Detroit Public Library. He had been an honorary member of the Ferrari Club of American and the Rolls Royce Owners Club.

Mr. Bradley admired automobile designs within the years leading up to 1910 because he felt that was the time when Detroit was just getting started and when so much was happening within the automotive world. He was a very soft-spoken man with a gentle disposition and a charming personality. As curator of the largest collection of automotive history in the world, he spent most of his life steeped in auto history as curator. He saw the auto archives grow from a small corner of the library to a large location on the second floor. He also helped collect a large part of the millions of items and photographs in the archives including songs about cars, personal papers corporate files books and advertising pieces.

James J. Bradley died November 27, 1980.  Mr. Bradley once said, “When you’ve been in it as long as I have, (25 years), some of it is bound to rub off.”

Mercedes-Benz Classic Archives & Collection, Stuttgart, Germany


AACA Library and Research Center, Hershey, Pennsylvania. (Repeat Award)


The Canada Museum of Science and Technology at Ottawa, Ontario 


The Digital Scholarship Program, Indiana University Purdue University at Indianapolis, Indiana


The National Automobile Museum (The Harrah Collection), Reno, Nevada

The Hagley Musem and Library, Wilmington, Delaware

The Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan, Michigan

International Motor Racing Research Center at Watkins Glen, New York

Revs Institute for Automotive Research, Naples, Florida.
Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust, Coventry, UK
The Automotive Research Library of the Horseless Carriage Foundation in La Mesa, California.
Gilmore Car Museum, Hickory Corners, Michigan.
Benson Ford Research Center at The Henry Ford, Dearborn, Michigan
National Auto History Collection of the Detroit Public Library
SAE International, Warrendale, Pennsylvania
Stanley Museum, Inc. Kingfield, Maine, and Estes Park, Colorado
Citizens Motorcar Company – America’s Packard Museum, Dayton, Ohio
Nash Heritage Preservation Project, Nash Car Club of America
Museum of Transportation, St. Louis, Missouri.
American Truck Historical Society, Kansas City, Missouri.
The Nethercutt Collection, Sylmar, California.
Reynolds-Alberta Museum, Wetaskiwin, Alberta, Canada.
Frederick C. Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum, Cleveland, Ohio.
National Motor Museum of Australia, Birdwood, South Australia.
Automotive Hall of Fame, Inc., Dearborn, Michigan.
Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum, Auburn, Indiana.
Heritage Motor Centre, Gaydon, Warwickshire, England.
Studebaker National Museum, South Bend, Indiana.
National Automotive History Collection, Detroit Public Library, Detroit, Michigan.
AACA Library and Research Center, Hershey, Pennsylvania.
Museo dell’Automobile Carlo Biscaretti di Ruffia, Turin, Italy.
GMI Alumni Foundation Industrial History Collection, Flint, Michigan.
Fondation de L’Automobile Marius Berliet, Lyons, France.
Henry Ford Museum, Dearborn, Michigan.
Daimler-Benz Archiv-Geschichte-Museum, Stuttgart, Germany.
National Motor Museum, Beaulieu, Hampshire, England.
Free Library of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Helen Jones Earley, Archivist and Executive Secretary for Public Relations, Oldsmobile Division of General Motors, Lansing, Michigan.
Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Association of the United States