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DC Red Caps Union: 1938 | by Washington Area Spark
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DC Red Caps Union: 1938

This damaged image shows the Washington Brotherhood of Red Caps union in October 1938.


Seated, l-r: James A. Triplett, Douglas E. Johnson, Jonas E. Mitchell, Ernest Finwick, Amos Sharps. Standing, l-r: Louyco Holmes, James C. Childs, George W. Robinson (president of the group), Edward Thurmond, Griffin Richardson and McRae Williams.


The group organized July 10, 1933 as the Washington Terminal Station Porters and won their first victory in 1938 when the Interstate Commerce Commission ruled that “red caps, station porters, ushers, attendants, etc.,” are employees under the terms of the Railway Labor Act.


The railroads had terminated salary for the red caps in July 1932 and they had worked since then solely for tips. The ruling forced the railroads to pay wages.


The group’s long battle inspired other red caps that, along with the District unit, formed the International Brotherhood of Red Caps in January 1938, with W. S. Townsend of Chicago as president.


Marie Richardson, while still in high school, helped her father Griffin (back row, 2nd from right) to organize the porters and later founded the DC women’s auxiliary and served as a representative to the national auxiliary.


For an article on Marie Richardson, see


For more photos related to Marie Richardson, see the Washington Area Spark Flickr set “Marie Richardson Remembered.”


Photograph by Scurlock Studios. Scurlock Studio Records, ca. 1905-1994, Archives Center, National Museum of American History. Courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution, fees apply for commercial usage.

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Taken in October 1938