and an Employment Application for a Prospective Pullman Maid, 1928
March is Women's History Month and we decided to write a blog about the overlooked story of Pullman Maids, the African American women who (for about 50 years) worked alongside their male brethren (Pullman Porters) and saw to the needs of female passengers as maids and female attendants on certain Pullman Sleeper cars.
During the early 1900s, the peak of luxury travel by rail in the U.S., Pullman Maids offered extra Pullman services on trains noted for their luxury. Some of these trains included the '20th-Century Limited' of the New York Central RR, the 'Broadway Limited' of the Pennsylvania RR, the 'Crescent Limited' (pictured) of the Southern Railway, or the 'Chief' of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe. Pullman Maids helped white female passengers with a variety of tasks, including bathing, manicures, hair dressing, stenographic / secretarial services and, of course, childcare. The decrease in sleeper car service (due to railroad line bankruptcies because of competition from airlines) led to a sharp decline in both Pullman Porters as well as Pullman Maids by the 1960s.