Pullman Porter's Blanket

Description:

Part of a Pullman porter's job was to make up the sleeping berths in his assigned sleeping car, and to provide extra blankets to passengers requesting them. The standard Pullman blanket in the 20th century was dyed a salmon color, which became almost a trademark of the company. When a blanket became worn or damaged in service, it was assigned to those blankets reserved for porters' use.

This wool blanket, made in 1910, was used by African American railroad porters. According to Pullman service rules, a porter's blanket was never to be given to a passenger. Ostensibly to avoid mixing these with the passengers' blankets, the porters' blankets were dyed blue. This was to comply with statutes in the South that dealt with the segregation of blacks and whites. The Pullman service rules were applied nationwide throughout the Pullman system, not just in the South. Dyeing the blanket blue made it easy to tell which blankets were used by passengers and which blankets were used by the African American porters and attendants. A dyed-blue Pullman blanket is today extremely rare, given its negative racial symbolism.

Date Made: 1910

User: Pullman Palace Car Company

Location: Currently not on view

See more items in: Work and Industry: Transportation, Railroad, Work, America on the Move, Transportation, Textiles

Exhibition:

Exhibition Location:

Credit Line: Gift of Arthur D. Dubin

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: 1986.0133.01Accession Number: 1986.0133Catalog Number: 1986.0133.0186.0133.01

Object Name: blanketOther Terms: blanket; Rail

Physical Description: blue (overall color)wool (overall material)

Guid: http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ng49ca746a6-9730-704b-e053-15f76fa0b4fa

Record Id: nmah_844563

Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.