LECTURE Details *

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The following lists are of slide show/lectures that features railroad women's contemporary and historical history. Lectures can be adapted to specific audiences on request. For further information about lecture fees.
Contact: Shirley Burman email:
* Do to family illness, I have suspended lectures, except in the Sacramento, CA area in 2010.
Program 1. "Women and the American Railroad"
This program provides an over view of women's historical affiliations with railroads.

It begins in 1838 with the earliest railroad jobs held by women, telegraph operators working in the Civil War, through two World Wars, the changes brought on by Title VII in the 1970's and moving forward to the present.

Program 2. "Lunch Box Warriors"
In World War II, 200,000 women pitched in to replace male railroad workers called to war in the 1940's. But this was not the first time a women's work force was needed.

Over 100, 000 American railroad women were recruited in WW I also. This program covers both wars.

Program 3. "Railroad's Designing Women" and "Women By Design"
3-1. Railroad's Designing Women:
Mary Jane Colter, Dr. Mary Pennington, and Olive Dennis
They left legacies as railroad's "designing women" not commonly known to many people. One was a designer and architect, another was a bacteriologist who improved railcar refrigeration systems. The third was a civil engineer, whose career was spent designing and improving passenger service and railroad coaches.

Second portion of Program 3

3-2 . Women by Design-Women's Images in Advertising and the Harvey Girl "look"
Railroad advertising and promotion -- before the turn of the century -- often used women's images to entice feminine travelers and their families to ride the trains, previously considered too provincial for most women. Some railroads like the Lakawanna Railroad used "Phoebe Snow" to promote cleanliness and other railroads used women's images in their ads to promote their safety features and accommodations.

Fred Harvey, took a "Look" and "Theme" and the results were the "Harvey Girls." In 1876, restaurateur and visionary Fred Harvey, in collaboration with Santa Fe Railroad, developed a string of deluxe railroad restaurants and hotels along the Santa Fe Route throughout the Midwest and West. He also created a unique image for the women waitresses who worked in these facilities. Harvey created the "Harvey Girls" in 1883; wholesome and virtuous young women often credited with "civilizing the West."

Program 4. "Railroad Women in the West"
In 1838, the first known railroad women employees were female car attendants. After the transcontinental railroad was completed, a few daring women travelers boarded trains and headed West, searching for adventure or jobs. Many became telegraph operators and station agents working in isolated areas in Nevada, California, Arizona and Texas. World War I saw over 100,000 women join the railroad work force. Many worked in railroad shops from Wyoming to California, cleaning, refueling and servicing locomotives. A few persistent women stayed on after the war- - even working until WW II.
Program 5. "Research Run Amok"
The program is about an amateur researcher, Burman beginning as a curious observer of railroad women and their history to becoming a serious researcher and artifact collector. Her collections are used to illustrate these women's historical past in exhibits, articles, books and lectures. This slide show is not given in a serious academic tone but with humor to show how you can get caught up in a project and almost loose yourself. It was first produced for a historical research group, who found it amusing, but educational.
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