Saturday, October 19, 2013

Fall Reading 2013 The Pullman Porter

Vanita Oelschlager's picture book relates the history of the Pullman Porters and their part in America's history. The porters served on railway cars designed by George Pullman for wealthy travelers. After the Civil War many African-American men who were looking for jobs to support their families were hired to work on the sleeping cars built by the Pullman company. These men worked up to 240 hours a month and earned as little as $10 in that time. They relied on tips from the passengers to help make enough money. Porters carried luggage, shined shoes, served meals, turned down beds, even watched children for the rich travelers. In the 1920s the porters began working to form a union, which was finally achieved in 1937. Leaders in the union helped with the Civil Rights movement and were later involved in the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the March on Washington. Although the sleeper cars were not made by the Pullman company after 1969, the Pullman Porters have earned a lasting place in history.

The books text traces the story of Pullman Porters from beginning to end, sharing interesting facts and slipping in quotes from other sources. Beautiful mixed-media paintings illustrate the train cars, porter's uniforms, and other details. Songs mentioned in the book and other texts that are referred to are listed at the end for further investigation. This would be a wonderful addition to school library collections and very helpful for 19th and 20th century history lessons. I also found a short video about the Pullman Porters.

I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley. It will be published on May 1,2014.

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