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Fairbanks Feature: Pullman Porters and a “Red Cap” Family Story from a PHLF Member

James D. Van Trump Library | Frank B. Fairbanks Transportation Archive | Fairbanks Features

Showcasing a variety of materials located in the Frank B. Fairbanks Rail Transportation Archive

No. 9  Presentation

Fairbanks Feature: Pullman Porters and a “Red Cap” Family Story from a PHLF Member

Judith Esposito, a PHLF member and the daughter of Lewis and Ruth Anderson, has added to the Fairbanks Archive Biographical Railroad Sketches.

She has written a story about her father, Lewis Anderson, who worked for the railroad all of his life. He worked for the New York Central System, mostly in the Buffalo-New York area. In the 1950s and 60s, he was Train Master in Buffalo. At that time, he noticed a most able black man working as a “redcap.” He learned that this young man wanted to be a switchman. Using his influence and in spite of other workers’ displeasure, Lewis was able to get the man a switchman’s job.

You can read the complete Red Cap Story at the Fairbanks Archive, where you also can see the red cap (see photo 5) and the following:

  • Two articles from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (February 20, 2011).
  • Photographs from two of the many Pullman source books: Night Trains, by Peter T. Maiken, and 20th Century, by Lucius Beebe.
  • An original sign used by the Pullman Company.
  • Examples of two of the pamphlets used to promote services on the trains.
  • An original red cap hat from the New York Central System, on permanent display at the Fairbanks Archive. Although this cap was worn daily, it is still in wonderful condition.

The Frank B. Fairbanks Rail Transportation Archive is open by appointment on Mondays, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Use of the archive is free to PHLF members (one of the benefits!); non-members are assessed a $10 use fee.

The Archive is located on the fourth floor of The Landmarks Building at Station Square, in the offices of the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation.

To schedule an appointment, email the Librarian James Halttunen:

Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation

100 West Station Square Drive, Suite 450

Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Phone: 412-471-5808  |  Fax: 412-471-1633