Pennsylvania Railroad women workers' oral historiesCreation: 1998
The Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) was chartered in 1846 to completing an all-rail road across the state. Between 1855 and 1874, the PRR underwent rapid expansion and emerged as one of the two largest railroad systems in the area east of the Mississippi and north of the Ohio. This collection consists of two interviews conducted in 1998 in West Chester, Pennsylvania with five women who worked for the Pennsylvania Railroad.
- Creation: 1998
- Pennsylvania Railroad (Organization)
General Physical Description
3 sound cassettes ; analog.
The Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) was chartered in 1846 to complete an all-railroad network across the state. In 1857 the Pennsylvania Railroad purchased the old Main Line system and eventually brought the entire line from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh under one management. Between 1855 and 1874, the PRR underwent rapid expansion and emerged as one of the two largest railroad systems in the region east of the Mississippi and north of the Ohio. Through stock purchase or lease, it reached Baltimore in 1861, Chicago and Indianapolis in 1869, St. Louis in 1870, Jersey City opposite New York in 1871, and Washington in 1872. The purchase of the Philadelphia, Wilmington & Baltimore Railroad in 1881 brought complete control of the important New York-Washington corridor. In 1910, the PRR entered Manhattan through tunnels under the Hudson and East Rivers. Most of the main lines lying east and south of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, were electrified between 1915 and 1938.
More than other railroads, the PRR was highly dependent upon the coal and steel industries and was burdened on its eastern end with a high-density passenger service. After 1958, the former began an irreversible decline, and the latter became a source of red ink. The PRR merged with its major rival, the New York Central, in 1968 to create the Penn Central Transportation Company. The merger was ill-planned, and the company declared bankruptcy in 1970. In 1971, the federal government created Amtrak to assume the most essential passenger service. In 1976, viable portions of Penn Central and other bankrupt railroads in its territory were conveyed to Conrail, which rehabilitated them with federal funds.
Scope and Content
This collection consists of two interviews conducted in 1998 in West Chester, Pennsylvania, with five women who worked for the Pennsylvania Railroad. They describe how they acquired their positions and their experiences working for the company. Topics discussed include wages, uniforms, sexism in the workplace, and the working environment during World War II.
Existence and Location of Copies
View this collection online in the Hagley Digital Archives.
This collection is open for research.
For research only, not to be reproduced without permission.
Language of Materials
Finding Aid & Administrative Information
- Pennsylvania Railroad women workers' oral histories
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- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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- 2022: Laurie Sather