Pullman Company Records

Institution: Newberry Library
60 W. Walton St.
Chicago, IL 60610
Phone: 312-255-3506
Date: 1867-1981
Extent: 1250 Linear Feet
Finding Aid

Biographical/Historical Note:
In its century of operation the Pullman’s Palace Car Company and later Pullman Company rose quickly, employing thousands in the manufacture and operation of sleeping cars on railroads throughout North America. But the firm fell victim just as suddenly in the decades after World War II to the convenience, comfort, and speed of road and air travel. During its hey-day, Pullman systematized railroad car construction, building the largest car plant in the world at Pullman; attempted to improve the living conditions of its workers by applying business principles to the construction and operation of a model company town; revolutionized rail travel, operating the largest hotel in the world, at its peak accommodating 26,000,000 passengers a year; and dramatically increased employment opportunities for African-Americans, who served as porters on its cars. Beyond that, Pullman had a significant effect on the American labor movement and on the economies of the many cities where it operated shops and yards.

Scope and Content Note:
Comprising the business archives of the Pullman’s Palace Car Company and the Pullman Company, records at the Newberry Library date from 1867 and include records of the entire firm up to the 1924 split into operating (sleeping car operation, service and repair) and manufacturing companies. From 1924-1981, the records chronicle the activities of the operating company only. The Archives are arranged within an hierarchical organizational framework or record group structure based upon the Pullman Company corporate organization. Files are placed in fifteen record groups representing the company’s larger divisions or departments, and special formats such as artifacts, scrapbooks, and audiovisual materials. Within the record groups are subgroups representing smaller departments or offices, and categories of materials (e.g., photographs are a subgroup of the audiovisual record group). Record series within each subgroup (or record group if no subgroup has been assigned) bring together related records in a logical arrangement. There are a total of 148 record series in the Archives, comprising 2,069 cubic feet.

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