Society for the Prevention of Calling Sleeping Car Porters "George"

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The Society for the Prevention of Calling Sleeping Car Porters "George" (SPCSCPG) was begun as a joke by lumber baron George W. Dulany in 1914. Membership was open to all those whose first or last name was George. Its first president was Admiral George Dewey and George Ade was another early leading member. Dulany's secretary filled out and mailed more than 45,000 membership cards to Georges throughout the world, before Dulany retired from public life.

At the time, railway sleeping car porters in the United States were commonly referred to by the name "George" regardless of their actual name. The appellation may have stemmed from the name of George Pullman, of the Pullman Company, which at one time manufactured and operated a large proportion of all the sleeping cars in North America. Porters were overwhelmingly black, and the practice presumably derived from the old custom of naming slaves after their masters, in this case porters being regarded as servants of George Pullman.

Although the SPCSCPG was more interested in defending the dignity of its white members than in achieving any measure of racial justice, it nevertheless had some effects for all porters. In 1926 the SPCSCPG persuaded the Pullman Company to install small racks in each car, displaying a card with the given name of the porter on duty. Of the 12,000 porters and waiters then working for Pullman, only 362 turned out to be named George.

At its peak, the society had 31,000 members. It claimed to include several prominent Georges as members, such as King George V of the United Kingdom, American baseball player George Herman "Babe" Ruth, and French politician Georges Clemenceau.[1]:51

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  1. ^ Welsh, Joe; Bill Howes (2004). Travel by Pullman: a century of service. Saint Paul, MN: MBI. ISBN 0760318573. OCLC 56634363. 

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