My mission is to make the public aware of women's contributions to the railroad industry that made the United States the great nation it is today. It t is accomplished with numerous different lectures and slideshow,* a traveling exhibit, and writing articles. A history book was nearly completed in 2002 and I will be getting back to it.*

Shirley Burman, Historian
American Railroad Women

*(Lectures & shows, also book have been suspended while I am a full time caregiver for my husband who is inflicted with Alzheimer's disease.)



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Research & Mission

A turning point in my life came in 1979, when I discovered that women had been railroad workers for almost 100 years and not since the 1964 Civil Rights Act, title 7 that opened the door for women to non-traditional jobs. By 1981, it became apparent that someone needed to photograph current railroad women as a continuing record to go with those taken during WWI and II, and in the early 1970's.

There were no central sources of railroad women's history placing their contributions to the work force within the context of railroad history and so my journey began. Along with photographing women on job, I began collecting their stories in oral interviews, videos, searching through railroad magazines and books with a lot of help from male railroad employees, authors and other railfans. Enlightened people have been aware that women's accomplishments have been shortchanged in past history books, with a few exceptions. Historians who have tried to right this wrong, since the 1960's have been accused of trying to rewrite history. but as we dig through archives, letters, diaries and interviews with retired railroad women and men, women's accomplishments and contributions to the railroad industry are being revealed.
Women conductors or 'Trainmen' were used on short haul trains and trolleys during WW II.

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If you would like to contribute a story about your current or past railroad work
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Shirley Burman © 2010