pullman porter

A 1943 photograph of a Pullman porter at the Union Station in Chicago, taken by Jack Delano.

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MANCHESTER — 2021 marks the tenth anniversary of the arrival of the Pullman Palace Car, Sunbeam, at Hildene. The 1903 meticulously restored wooden rail car came off the line during Robert Lincoln’s presidency of the Pullman Company and while he was building Hildene. The interpretive exhibit “Many Voices,” located on Sunbeam’s rail station platform, includes the important voice of the Black porters.

It seemed fitting that in Sunbeam’s anniversary year at Hildene, the education department would launch a new virtual version of its social history education program, “Pullman Porters: Unsung Heroes.” During this live program designed for grades 6 through 8, students will explore the history of the Black porters, discover the critical role they played in giving rise to America’s Black middle class, learn of their involvement in the formation of the Black labor movement, and how these men provided momentum for the civil rights movement.

Focused primarily on the slice of history that spans 100 years from 1863/Emancipation Proclamation to 1963/March on Washington, students will engage in activities touching on what it was like to travel in and work on a Pullman car and participate in discussions related to the porters’ enduring fight for social justice. This program can come into the classroom or into the home. The school program fee is $3 per student or $25 per homeschool family.

All education programs are informed by Hildene’s mission, “Values into Action.” For more information or to schedule this program, contact Diane Newton, youth education director at 802-874-4787 or newton@hildene.org.


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