Brotherhood of sleeping car porters

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The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (BSCP) organized railway porters (traditionally an occupation for African-Americans) to bargain with the Pullman Company which held a virtual monopoly on the nation's sleeping car facilities. The BSCP was founded in 1925 in New York City to counteract the poor wages, long hours, and other injustices practiced by the Pullman Car Company. A. Philip Randolph became president of the Brotherhood in 1928. In the mid-1930's the American Federation of Labor (AFL) and the New Deal's National Mediation Board recognized the BSCP.

In 1942 Randolph organized the March on Washington Movement in an attempt to force the federal government to end discrimination in war-related employment and to end segregation in the military. The march was aborted when President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 8802 which outlawed discrimination in unions and in companies doing business with the federal government and established the Fair Employment Practices Committee to oversee compliance. Although the Executive Order did not mention the military, Randolph, nonetheless, had forced the national government to admit to the existence of widespread racial discrimination in employment opportunities and to accept responsibility to provide remedies for that situation.

From the guide to the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters collection, 1939-1987, (The New York Public Library. Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division.)

The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters was founded by African American employees of the Pullman Company in 1925 in an effort to garner fair and equitable treatment from the company. Early leaders chose A. Philip Randolph to head the union, in part because he was not employed by Pullman and was therefore less vulnerable to attacks from the company. For a decade, the union struggled to organize membership, simultaneously fighting reprisals from the Pullman Company and rejection from the National Mediation Board and the American Federation of Labor. Following changes in federal legislation under the New Deal, in 1935 the NMB certified the union as the official representatives of sleeping car porters. Shortly thereafter, the union received a charter from the AFL, becoming the first African American organization to do so. In 1937, the union signed its first labor agreement with the Pullman Company. Randolph remained president of the union until his retirement in 1968. In 1978, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters merged with the Brotherhood of Railway and Airline Clerks, marking the end of the union as an independent organization.

From the description of Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters records, 1925-1980. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 698781700

Biographical Notes

Benjamin F. McLaurin

  • 1906, May 26: Born, Jacksonville, Fla.
  • 1925: Chicago, Ill. Chicago Moved to Chicago, Ill. Employed by the Pullman Co.
  • 1931: Katona, N.Y. Attended Brookwood Labor College,Katona, N.Y. Local organizer, Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters
  • 1935: International field organizer, Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters
  • 1938: Married Margaret L. Frye
  • 1945: Labor candidate, city council, New York, N.Y.
  • circa 1959: Eastern zone supervisor, Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters

A. Philip Randolph

  • 1889, Apr. 15: Born, Crescent City, Fla.
  • 1914: Married Lucille E. Campbell
  • 1917: Organized small union of elevator operators, New York, N.Y.
  • 1921: Socialist candidate, secretary of state for New York
  • 1925: Organized Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters
  • 1935: Member, Fiorello H. La Guardia's Commission on Race
  • 1941: Washington Washington Organized March on Washington Movement Washington, D.C. Washington, D. C. District of Columbia Honorary LL.D., Howard University,Washington, D.C. Member, New York City Housing Authority
  • 1957 - 1968 : Vice president, American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations
  • 1963: Participated in organization of March on Washington
  • 1964: Awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom
  • 1979, May 16: Died, New York, N.Y.

Ashley L. Totten

  • 1884, Oct. 11: Born, St. Croix, Virgin Islands
  • 1905: Immigrated to United States
  • 1911: Naturalized as United States citizen
  • 1927: Married Nellie V. Victoria
  • 1932: International secretary-treasurer, Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters President, American Virgin Islands Civic Association
  • 1937: National reporting officer, Railroad Retirement Board
  • 1963: Died, New York, N.Y.

From the guide to the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters Records, 1920-1968, (bulk 1950-1968), (Manuscript Division Library of Congress)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn AFL-CIO Internal Disputes Plan Decisions of the Impartial Umpire, 1964-1976. Cornell University Library
referencedIn Pullman Company. Labor Relations Dept. Union contract agreement books, 1919-1958. Newberry Library
creatorOf Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. Southeastern Division. Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters collection, 1943-1967. John Hope and Aurelia E. Franklin Library. Special Collections & Archives
referencedIn Webster, Milton P., 1887-1965. Milton P. Webster collection, 1956-1964. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters Records 1920-1968 (bulk 1950-1968) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Inter-University Labor Education Committee. Series 2, Subseries 3. Correspondence and reports of special consultants, 1951-1957. Cornell University Library
creatorOf Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters records, 1920-1968 (bulk 1950-1968). Library of Congress
referencedIn Guide to the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters Oral History Collection, circa 1970s-1990s Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
creatorOf Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters records, 1925-1980. Emory University Library, Special Collect Department
referencedIn AFL-CIO. Internal Disputes Plan. Decisions of the Impartial Umpire, 1964-1976. Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives
creatorOf Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. [Miscellaneous pamphlets, etc.]. Chicago History Museum
referencedIn American Fund for Public Service records, 1922-1941 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
creatorOf Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. [Constitutions, agreements, etc.] Wisconsin historical society
referencedIn A. Philip Randolph collection, 1940-1978 The New York Public Library. Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division.
referencedIn Dellums, C. L. (Cottrell Laurence). Cottrell Laurence Dellums papers, circa 1920-1972. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn McCulloch, Frank W., 1905-1996. Frank W. McCulloch papers, 1931-1988 (bulk 1931-1948). Chicago History Museum
referencedIn Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters collection, 1937-1991 The New York Public Library. Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division.
creatorOf Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters collection, 1939-1987 The New York Public Library. Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division.
referencedIn Randolph, A. Philip (Asa Philip), 1889-. A. Philip Randolph collection, 1940-1978. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn Joseph L. Rauh Papers, 1913-1994, (bulk 1950-1984) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
creatorOf Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters' meetings [sound recording]. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn McLaurin, Benjamin F., 1905-. Benjamin F. McLaurin papers, 1922-1975. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
creatorOf Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters papers, 1927-1934. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn McLaurin, Benjamin F., 1905-. Reminiscences of Benjamin F. McLaurin : oral history, 1960. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
referencedIn A. Philip Randolph Papers, 1909-1979, (bulk 1941-1968) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn International Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. Pullman Porters. Oral histories [sound recording], 1988. Churchill County Museum
referencedIn Dellums, C. L. (Cottrell Laurence). Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters collection, 1939-1987. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf American Fund for Public Service. American Fund for Public Service records, 1922-1941. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Randolph, A. Philip (Asa Philip), 1889-1979. A. Philip Randolph papers, 1909-1979 (bulk 1941-1968). Library of Congress
referencedIn Hayden Robert C. Transcripts of oral history interviews with Boston African American railroad workers, 1977-1991 (bulk, 1988-1991). University of Massachusetts at Boston, Healey Library
referencedIn Davis, Jessica Bell, d. 1991,. Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters collection, 1937-1991. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Tampa Union Station (Tampa, Fla.). Tampa Union Station records, 1924-1973. University of South Florida, USF Library
referencedIn Rauh, Joseph L., 1911-. Joseph L. Rauh papers, 1913-1994 (bulk 1950-1984). Library of Congress
referencedIn Graves family. Graves Family papers, 1884-2004. College of Charleston, Marlene and Nathan Addlestone Library
referencedIn Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. Chicago Division. Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters records, 1925-1969. Chicago History Museum
referencedIn Pullman Company. Miscellaneous scrapbooks, 1873-1927. Newberry Library
referencedIn Pullman Company. Labor Relations Dept. General labor files, 1900-1970 (bulk 1918-1970). Newberry Library
referencedIn Pullman Company. Labor Relations Dept. Labor union negotiation and agreement files, 1920-1969. Newberry Library
referencedIn Pullman Company. Labor Relations Dept. Federal labor mediation and court records, 1919-1969. Newberry Library
referencedIn Lawrence Graham Brooks papers, 1897-1981 Harvard Law School Library Langdell Hall Cambridge, MA 02138
referencedIn Randolph, A. Philip (Asa Philip), 1889-1979. Papers of A. Philip Randolph, 1909-1979. Cornell University Library
referencedIn Tucker, Rosina Corrothers. Rosina C. Tucker Papers, 1981-1984. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen. Series 5, Subseries 2. Mediation and dispute files, 1891-1967. Cornell University Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith AFL-CIO. corporateBody
associatedWith AFL-CIO. person
associatedWith American Federation of Labor. corporateBody
associatedWith American Fund for Public Service. corporateBody
correspondedWith Blanchette, A. R. 1910- person
correspondedWith Blanchette, A. R. (Arthur Robinson), 1910- person
correspondedWith Bond, Julian, 1940- person
associatedWith Brooks, Lawrence Graham, 1881-1981 person
associatedWith Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen. corporateBody
associatedWith Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen. corporateBody
associatedWith Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. Chicago Division. corporateBody
associatedWith Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. Ladies Auxiliary. corporateBody
associatedWith Congress of Industrial Organizations. corporateBody
associatedWith Davis, Jessica Bell, d. 1991, person
associatedWith Dellums, C. L. person
correspondedWith Dellums, C. L. (Cotrell Lawrence) person
associatedWith Dellums, C. L. (Cottrell Laurence) person
correspondedWith Dubinsky, David, 1892-1982 person
correspondedWith Farmer, James, 1920-1999 person
associatedWith Graves family. family
correspondedWith Green, William, 1872-1952 person
associatedWith Hayden Robert C. person
associatedWith International Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. Pullman Porters. corporateBody
associatedWith Inter-University Labor Education Committee. corporateBody
correspondedWith King, Martin Luther, Jr., 1929-1968 person
correspondedWith Marshall, Thurgood, 1908-1993 person
correspondedWith Mboya, Tom person
correspondedWith Mboya, Tom person
associatedWith McCulloch, Frank W., 1905-1996. person
correspondedWith McKissick, Floyd B. 1922-1991 person
associatedWith McLaurin, Benjamin F., 1905- person
associatedWith McNeal, T. D. person
correspondedWith Meany, George, 1894-1980 person
correspondedWith Murray, Philip, 1886-1952 person
associatedWith National Advisory Committee on Farm Labor (U.S.) corporateBody
associatedWith National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. corporateBody
associatedWith National Committee for Rural Schools. corporateBody
associatedWith National Sharecroppers' Fund (U.S.) corporateBody
associatedWith National Trade Union Committee for Racial Justice. corporateBody
associatedWith Negro Labor Committee. corporateBody
associatedWith New York (N.Y.). City Council. corporateBody
associatedWith Patterson, Thomas. person
correspondedWith Powell, Adam Clayton, 1908-1972 person
associatedWith Pullman Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Pullman Company. Labor Relations Dept. corporateBody
associatedWith Pullman Company. Labor Relations Dept. corporateBody
associatedWith Pullman Company. Labor Relations Dept. corporateBody
associatedWith Pullman Company. Labor Relations Dept. corporateBody
correspondedWith Quill, Mike person
correspondedWith Quill, Mike person
associatedWith Randolph, A. Philip 1889- person
associatedWith Randolph, A. Philip 1889-1979. person
associatedWith Randolph, A. Philip (Asa Philip), 1889- person
correspondedWith Randolph, Woodruff, 1892-1966 person
associatedWith Rauh, Joseph L., 1911- person
correspondedWith Reuther, Roy, 1909-1968 person
correspondedWith Reuther, Victor G. 1912- person
correspondedWith Reuther, Victor G. (Victor George), 1912- person
correspondedWith Reuther, Walter, 1907-1970 person
correspondedWith Rustin, Bayard, 1912-1987 person
correspondedWith Smith, Bennie, b. 1884 person
correspondedWith Spingarn, Arthur B. 1878-1971 person
correspondedWith Stone, Chuck person
correspondedWith Stone, Chuck person
associatedWith Tampa Union Station (Tampa, Fla.) corporateBody
associatedWith Totten, Ashley, 1884-1963. person
associatedWith Tucker, Rosina C. person
associatedWith Webster, Milton P., 1887-1965. person
associatedWith Webster, M. P. person
correspondedWith White, Walter Francis, 1893-1955 person
associatedWith Whitney, Anita, 1867-1955. person
correspondedWith Wilkins, Roy, 1901-1981 person
associatedWith Wilson, Helena. person
correspondedWith Young, Whitney M. person
correspondedWith Young, Whitney M. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Africa
California
United States
United States
New York (State)--New York
Pacific Coast (U.S.)
Canada
Kenya
United States
Subject
Labor laws and legislation
Labor movement
Labor movement
Labor movement
Labor movement
Labor movement
Labor movement
Labor union meetings
Labor unions
Labor unions
Labor unions
Labor unions
Labor unions, Black
Local election
Local elections
Porters
Pullman porters
Pullman porters
Pullman porters
Railroad companies
Railroad law
Railroads
Railroads
Railroads
Strikes and lockouts
Women in the labor movement
Women in the labor movement
African American labor leaders
African Americans
African Americans
African Americans
African Americans
African Americans
Civil rights
Civil rights movements
Occupation
Activity

Person

Active 1925

Active 1980

Americans

English

Information

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