This portrait was taken by T. S. Johnson, Pullman’s first regularly employed (though part-time) photographer, who published Pullman’s first photographic promotions between 1883 and 1886. Inspector J. N. Chadwick (eighth from the right in the bottom row) still worked at Pullman in August 1928, when he supplied this photograph for publication in the Pullman News. Of the twenty-five men and boys in the portrait, eleven had Swedish surnames and eight English, with a smattering of Irish, German, and Dutch names, representing the primary ethnic groups in the work force in 1884. While the Anglo-Americans mostly held managerial, technical, and clerical positions, Swedish craftsmen predominated among the skilled woodworkers who built Pullman cars in the wood car era.
Shortly after Pullman built its Chicago factory in 1880-1881, it began to take commemorative portraits of the work groups that constructed its rail cars. Though usually posed outside, against the walls of the department shops where they worked, work groups such as this one were occasionally associated directly with the cars they had just finished. A brick factory building is in the background.
--Larry Peterson, City University of New York.