The Transportation Research Forum (TRF) Foundation grew in 1992 from the Distinguished Transportation Research (DTR) Library of the Washington Chapter, TRF. The most significant collections of the DTR Library, the complete series of Official Railroad Guides covering over 100 years and a complete series of the Proceedings of the TRF, had been given to the St. Louis, MO, Mercantile Library to form the TRF collection within its John Barriger III National Railroad Library.
The Foundation is a corporation organized and domiciled in Washington, DC. Its directors are members of the TRF and are elected by the membership of the TRF. The corporation has been designated as a 501C(3) not-for-profit organization under the rules of the Internal Revenue Service. Gifts to the Foundation are tax exempt and are applied to the endowment fund.
At the time of its organization, the Foundation received cash and investments from the former DTR Library of $23,257 which yielded an income of $2,597. As of the end of January 2011, the Foundation's endowment totaled $87,000 (even after losses sustained from the 2008 financial crisis), generating an annual income in interest and dividends of about $3,500 which supports scholarship grants to the top two winners of the TRF student paper award and travel expenses to the Annual Forum for the top winner of the award. The annual income has also supported maintenance of a collection of primary source transportation documents, donated by members over the years, at the Mercantile Library associated with the University of Missouri at St. Louis.