Thursday, November 10, 2011

Transcontinental Railroad enquiry

From: Celine.Fitzmaurice@rawtelevision.co.uk

I am researching a series on the American frontier and want to include the story of the [Union Pacific] railroad. I am looking for personal accounts of the work involved by the navvies involved but I am not sure where you would recommend that I look. I know many Chinese Americans worked on this line but I am not sure if their personal experiences are recorded anywhere.

Would you be able to point me in the right direction – to either books or archives where these personal accounts are available?

—Celine Fitzmaurice, PhD, Development Producer
Raw TV Ltd, 3rd Floor, 13 – 21 Curtain Road, London EC2A 3LT.

6 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The U.S. first transcontinental railroad was comprised of two railroads, the Union Pacific Railroad (eastern portion from Nebraska to Utah) and the Central Pacific Railroad (western portion from Utah to California). The Central Pacific was built mostly by Chinese workers, and the Union Pacific mostly by Irish workers, although the Utah portion of both railroads used local LDS ("Mormon") contractors. So the Union Pacific was not built by Chinese workers, and unfortunately, there are no Chinese first person accounts of building the Central Pacific Railroad.

The best modern history of building the transcontinental railroad is David Bain's Empire Express.

The subject of the Chinese railroad workers is a difficult one because there is so much misinformation online and in recent books. This page may help to avoid the common myths and errors that you likely will encounter.

For personal accounts of travel on the transcontinental railroad, see the CPRR Museum online accounts of travel.

One caution, if you are writing for worldwide viewers is that the word "navvies" will be almost entirely unknown to Americans – they likely will not know that navvies [short for navigator, canal laborer (obsolete)] is a U.K. term for railroad laborers or other construction workers, and are likely to guess incorrectly that this means sailors (navy), native americans (Indians), or even perhaps misinterpret it as a slur for ethnic minorities.

11/10/2011 12:24 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: From: Celine.Fitzmaurice@rawtelevision.co.uk

Thanks for all your help and I'm certain those links will be very helpful. I was in particular looking for personal accounts in the building of the line especially accounts of labourers. Are you aware if there are any? ...

—Celine Fitzmaurice

11/11/2011 6:35 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

There are some first person accounts of the construction of the first transcontinental railroad included at,

Alexander Toponce

Henry Root

Lewis Metzler Clement

Huntington Papers

Biographic documentation courtesy of Lynn Farrar

Stephen Allen Curry

James Abram Kleiser

Beyond the Mississippi

Best of Barkers

Carson Daily Appeal

The Last Tie by Dr. J. D. B. Stillman

Senate inquiry into Chinese Immigration

CPRR volume of the Report of the United States Pacific Railroad Commission

Report of the United States Pacific Railroad Commission

How We Built the Union Pacific by Grenville M. Dodge

There are no Chinese laborer first person accounts of building the Central Pacific Railroad.

11/11/2011 6:49 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: Celine.Fitzmaurice@rawtelevision.co.uk

Thanks very much. These are incredibly helpful. ...

—Celine Fitzmaurice

11/11/2011 6:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where can I find Chinese workers quotes?

2/01/2014 6:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can't find Chinese worker quotes. There are no Chinese laborer first person accounts of building the Central Pacific Railroad.

2/01/2014 6:43 PM  

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