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AfriGeneas Genealogy and History Forum

Railroads in the African American Experience

Last week when I was at the Hampton Public Library, ran across a new book:

Railroads in the African American Experience - A Photographic Journey
by Theodore Kornweibel, Jr.

John Hopkins University Press.2010

" The history of American railroads..can not be separated from African American History. For over a century, railroading providied the most important industrial occupaiton for blacks. Brakemen, firemen, porters, chefs, mechanics, laborers - AA men and women have been essential to the daily operation and success of American Railroads".

I know that many of you have relatives that worked on the railroads, this is a great book to help you understand the role they played in not only helping to build the railroads during slavery to the present.

This is not a genealogical book, so don't go looking for alot of names, however the author does mention a number of items that you might find helpful in you search. The author writes:

"The social history of railroading, aside from the experiences of Pullman porters and dining car waiters and cooks, has been almost completely ignored. The reason was that scholars had neglected to make systematic use of obituaries, retirement notices, and news items about black railroaders (and often their families) in railroad employee magazines. I studied 11 magazines in detail, covering several decades, plus shorter spans of time for 9 others. The Missouri Pacific Lines Magazine and Norfolk and Western magazine actually had separate "From Our Colored Employees' news colums that were written by workers form numerous shops, roundhouses, and freight houses....nearly all of these periodcials, at least up to the end of WW II, identified blacks as "colored" or with a "c"."

In the NOTES section the author lists the magazines he used:

Louisville & Nashville Employees Magazine

Norfolk and Western Magazine

Baltimore and Ohio Magazine

Reading Railroad Magazine

Cetnral of GA Magazine

Chesapeake and Ohio Employee Magazine

Pullman News

Missouri Pacific Lines

Illionois Central Magazine

The Pennsy (Pennsylvania Railroad)

Southern Pacific Bulletin

(some titles have changed over time).


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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