Photos of African Americans and railroads : LUSENET : Central of Georgia Railway Historical Soc : One Thread

I'm writing an illustrated book on African Americans and the railroads, from 1830 to the present. I am looking for photographs, especially unpublished, on any aspects of this topic: black RR employees and passengers; Jim Crow cars and stations, etc. I'd like to hear from any photographers or collectors. Perhaps you know of someone who I should contact. Photocopies of photos would be great to begin with. I've enjoyed this website immensely. Great job! Ted Kornweibel Professor, Emeritus Department of Africana Studies San Diego State University San Diego CA 92182

-- Ted Kornweibel (, June 19, 2002



For photographs of Central of Georgia people the employee magazine is probably the best source. The University of Georgia at Athens has a microfilm collection and the Atlanta History Center has a collection of hard copies, as well as surviving negatives.

I have used both collections and would say that the microfilm version may be faster for trolling for images, assuming one can watch the images whir by without becoming seasick.

While images in the "Right Way" are technically "published", only a limited number of originals exist, so the images are not widely published. There are not too many CofGa images that around that have not been published one place or another.

Some of the "Right Way" images were reprinted by the Atlanta History Center recently as part of the "Images of America Series." See the following page on the CofGa Rwy Historical Society Web site for a discussion of this publication:

As you know, Beckem and Langley's "Album" has list of passenger cars, including segregated cars, from which you can get list of specific numbers. Some of these cars may still be around. Check the list of segregated cars against the Surviving Equipment List on the Society Web site at:

For further information on segregated passenger facilities see the collection of engineering drawings held by the Georgia Historical Society in Savannah.

A few depots along the former CofGa still exist, and some of these were segregated, although the interiors may be modified today. As an example, older photographs of the station in Macon show "White Entrance" and "Colored Entrance" over the doors. These designations are covered over now and the interior has been redone.

Ron. Wright

-- Ron. Wright (, June 20, 2002.


The Central of Georgia Railway's employee magazine "The Right Way" featured many articles about the people of the CofGa. The magazine was published from about 1913 until 1963. While I don't remember ever seeing any articles dealing specifically with African Americans, there were articles (some with photographs) which featured occupations which had traditionally been filled by them. For instance, the CofGa had "maid service" on some passenger trains. These maids were almost exclusively black. Most passenger car porters were also black, as were a good number of the workers on track crews.

I remember one photograph which appeared in an early issue (maybe 1930s-1940s) of a very muscular black track worker holding two crossties: one on his shoulder, and the other in his opposite arm! That was quite a feat!!

About the only way that you could gather this information would be to do a search through each issue (or get someone to search for you). The CofGa Rwy Hist Soc has an extensive collection of "The Right Way", but it's not complete. Some larger public libraries might have copies. There is an index to these magazines that was recently completed, but it usually lists the article title and not the specific subject. For instance, I did not find a listing for "Maid."

The Atlanta History Center (in Atlanta, Georgia) has all of the negatives and prints which were in the offices of "The Right Way." The vast majority of these photographs are from about 1947 until about 1959. There is no index for them, although the CofGa Rwy Hist Soc has started working on one. There are about 3,500 negatives, and the only way to determine what's there is to go through them one by one!

Several years ago, Arcadia Press published a book entitled "Images of America: Central of Georgia Railway" which features some of the photographs in the Atlanta History Center collection. There are several photographs of black CofGa employees, including a 1920s era photograph of a black CofGa baseball team! That book is still in print and should be available from most good book stores on online. The Society also has copies for sale. Contact me directly if you'd like to get a copy.

I hope this helps you get started!

Allen Tuten

-- Allen Tuten (, June 20, 2002.

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