Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division
The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters Collection includes printed matter, correspondence, legal documents, addresses by A. Philip Randolph and other material reflecting the activities of this union. The correspondence files include outgoing letters relating to labor and union rights. There is substantial legal correspondence with the Delson, Levin and Gordon law firm (1950's-1960's), which represented the BSCP. There are also letters to and from Randolph, the international president; Benjamin F. McLaurin, international field organizer (1950's) and Eastern Zone supervisor (1960's); Thomas Patterson, who was BSCP Eastern Zone supervisor from 1951-1956; and BSCP International President C. L. Dellums (1968-1970). The correspondence often concerns thecases of individual workers, and pension and contract rights. Included are addresses and resolutions submitted by Randolph at various conventions of the BSCP. The papersalso contain two union contracts between the BSCP and the Pullman Company (1953), and the BSCP and the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad Company (1969); clippings (1960-1977);programs from events honoring the BSCP; and financial records including ledgers and financial journals.
There are also constitutions and agreements, executive memoranda, resolutions, annual and financial reports, and contract settlements. Legal documents include the proceedings of the litigation for Fred Thompson vs BSCP (1961), a seniority case in which Thompson claimed that the BSCP discriminated against him because he was not constant in his union membership. A substantial part of the collection are the reports of proceedings and minutes for biennial and triennial conventions and anniversary celebrations, which contain addresses and resolutions submitted by Randolph and others, 1940-1975 (scattered).
Additionally, there are files containing the by-laws of the Women's Auxiliary of the BSCP and which describe the accomplishments of Rosina C. Tucker, its first secretary-treasurer (1954-1984). A scrapbook of clippings and miscellaneous flyers documents the role of the BSCP and blacks in the labor movement. Most of the documents relateto the proposed 1942 March on Washington, Executive Order 8802, A. Philip Randolph, the Fair Employment Practice Committee, and African-American women and national defense. The clippings are from 1941-1975, with the bulk from 1941-1942.
There is also a small collection of items (1944-1952) related to Berry J. Slater, a porter with the Pullman Company, which contains a BSCP membership book, membershipworking cards and a Pullman Company handbook, "Instructions to Porters, Attendants and Bus Boys" (1952).
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. PhilipRandolph 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.
Controlled Access Terms
- Randolph, A. Philip (Asa Philip), 1887-
- McLaurin, Benjamin F., 1905-
- Tucker, Rosina Corrothers.
- United States. Fair Employment Practices Committee.
- Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. Ladies Auxiliary.
- Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters.
- March on Washington Movement (1943 : Washington, D.C.)
- Pullman Company.
- Trade-unions -- Porters -- United States.
- Railroads -- Employees -- Labor unions -- United States.
- Porters -- United States.
- Railroads -- Employees.
- African Americans -- Employment.
- African American women.
Additional Creator Names
- Dellums, C. L. (Cottrell Laurence)
- Patterson, Thomas.
- Delson, Levin and Gordon.
- Schomburg NEH Automated Access to Special Collections Project.