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Historic Pullman Collection

Identifier: spe-nhrc-hpc

Scope and Contents

The collection contains annual reports, brochures, bulletins, news clippings and photographs on the Pullman Company, the Pullman Free School of Manual Training, Pullman Town, and the 1894 strike. Of note are the publications created by the Pullman Company including annual reports and newsletters, the Pullman Free School of Manual Training annuals and the photographs that depict Assembly Plant operations, the Pullman band and several Pullman athletic teams.


  • 1872 - 2008


Conditions Governing Access

Materials are open without restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Please consult staff to determine ability to reuse materials from collection.

Biographical / Historical

The town of Pullman, Illinois was founded in 1880 by George M. Pullman as a site for his car-building operations (Pullman Palace Car Company) and to house his employees. The area originally purchased by Pullman covered nearly 4,000 acres and ran from 87th Street to 130th Street. The developed area was much smaller and was bounded by South Langley Street to the east, Cottage Grove to the west, 115th Street to the south, and continuing a few blocks north of 111th Street. Pullman saw many advantages in the Calumet site, including the topography and fertility of the soil along with the site’s proximity to Chicago, the transportation center of the Midwest. He also believed the area was far enough removed from what he called the “evil influences” of the City of Chicago and this separation along with other activities would prove to make better and more content workers.

The master builder of Pullman was Solon Spencer Beman, a young architect from New York. He was commissioned by George Pullman to begin designing the town in 1879. Together with landscape architect Nathan F. Barrett, complete plans for the buildings and grounds of the town were laid out, and construction began in the spring of 1880. By the following year, the first residents began to move in and the town gradually began to take shape as residences, public buildings, paved streets and parks were built. The initial town was completed in 1884. The town was annexed to the City of Chicago in 1889 along with the Village of Hyde Park.

Production at the Pullman Palace Car Company remained high until 1893 when the railroad industry’s needs changed. As a result of changes in demand, George Pullman laid off many employees and cut the wages of others. Combined with the high cost of living in Pullman’s town, the workers formed a grievance committee, but Pullman was unwilling to compromise. The Pullman Strike of 1894 was the result.

In 1898, three years after the death of George Pullman, the Illinois Supreme Court decision required the company to relinquish its non-industrial property. Following this time, the town began to transition into private ownership.

In 1969, the Pullman district was designated an Illinois Historic Landmark, a National Landmark, in 1970, and a Chicago Landmark in 1972. In 2015, the National Park Service named Pullman a National Monument.


19 Linear Feet (in 18 boxes, includes 97 photographs, 1 scrapbook, 11 oversize folders)

Language of Materials



The collection contains annual reports, brochures, bulletins, news clippings and photographs on the Pullman Company, the Pullman Free School of Manual Training, Pullman Town, and the 1894 strike.


The collection is arranged into five series:

Series 1: The Pullman Company, 1883-1979, undated

Series 2: The Pullman Family, 1897-1974, undated

Series 3: The Pullman Free School of Manual Training, 1916-1977

Series 4: The Pullman Strike, 1894, 1939, 1946

Series 5: Pullman Town, 1872-2008, undated

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The initial collection was gathered by the members of the Calumet Pioneer Historical Society and transferred from Chicago Public Library, Pullman Branch in the 1980s as part of a Dr. Scholl Foundation grant. Material continues to be added through transfer and donation.

Box 9, Folders 13-20 and Box 10, Folders 4-6 were added in January 2019.

Box 18, Folders 1-14 and Photographs 4.1-4.5 were added in 2022.

Related Materials

George A. Brennan Papers

Calumet-Pioneer Historical Society Records

Calumet Region Community Collection

Fenger High School Records

Ton Family Papers

Separated Materials

The following titles were cataloged as part of the Special Collections book collection:

Beebe, Lucius, Mr. Pullman’s Elegant Palace Car, 1961, Call no. TF457.B4

Doty, Mrs. Duane, The Town of Pullman: Its Growth with Brief Accounts of Its Industries, 1893, Call no. F549.P97 D6

Husband, Joseph, The Story of the Pullman Car, 1917, Call no. TF457.H8

Lindsey, Almont, The Pullman Strike: The Story of a Unique Experiment and of a Great Labor Upheaval, 1942, Call no. HD5325.R12 1894 C54

Myers, Elisabeth P. George Pullman, Young Sleeper Car Builder, 1963, Call no. TF140.P8 M93

United States Strike Commission, Report on the Chicago Strike of June-July, 1894, 1895, Call no. HD5325.R1 1894 C582

Warne, Colston E., ed., The Pullman Boycott of 1894: The Problem of Federation Intervention, 1955 Call no. HD5325.R12 1894 C6

Guide to the Historic Pullman Collection
Original author unknown, 1982. Updated and ingested into ArchivesSpace by Michelle McCoy, 2022
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Unit at Harold Washington Library Center Repository

Harold Washington Library Center, 9th Floor
Chicago Public Library
400 S. State Street
Chicago IL 60605 United States
(312) 747-4875