Narrative Script for Pullman Research Paper

Step 3: Take Notes

Make a working outline.

Kiran first learned about the Pullman community by talking to her grandmother, who moved there in 1959, and by exploring the neighborhood with her grandmother's friend Edolphus. As Kiran searched for written sources to learn more about the place, she found out how important the town was in the 1880s and 1890s—long before her grandmother and Edolphus moved there. She also found a lot of material about the neighborhood in the years since the time her grandmother worked to save it from demolition. To organize her thoughts, Kiran dropped information and ideas into the categories the assignment listed.

  1. What I wanted to find out
    1. Why doesn't Grandma move closer to us?
    2. What did Grandma do to "help save the neighborhood"?
  2. What I already knew
    1. I don't like the fire-damaged buildings in the area.
    2. Grandma's home has a tiny backyard.
    3. Pullman is too far away—an hour drive from Evanston.
  3. How I went about finding out what I wanted to know
    1. Interview with Grandma
    2. Walking tour with Edolphus
    3. Library research
    4. Internet sources
  4. What I learned
    1. Pullman, a company town, 1880–1894
      1. Positives
      2. Negatives
    2. The end of the company town
      1. Depression
      2. 1894 Strike
      3. Court decision
    3. 1910s–1970s
      1. Proposal to demolish the area
      2. Landmark status
    4. Mid–1970s to today
      1. Renovations of homes
      2. Historic Pullman Foundation
      3. Walking tours and fall fund-raising parties
      4. 1998 fire

Skim your sources to locate information for your paper; eliminate the source, or slow down and read carefully.

Kiran couldn't find an entry for Pullman Town in the index of Rosemary Laughlin's book, The Pullman Strike of 1894, but the table of contents listed a chapter titled "A Company Town." Skimming Chapter 3, Kiran found it indeed included detailed information about how the town of Pullman started and what people thought of it early on. So she planned to read the chapter closely. Kiran applied the skimming process to her other sources too. She eliminated a source if it didn't have useful information about any of the ideas on her working outline.

Follow eight guidelines for taking notes.

Here are the decisions Kiran made about taking notes from her sources:

  1. Organize notes: Kiran decided to keep notes in a single file on her computer.
  2. Number each source: Kiran had given a number to each source on her working bibliography. So while taking notes from the sources, she wrote the source number in the upper right-hand corner of each note from that source.
  3. One main idea: For each note, Kiran focused on only one idea.
  4. Write a heading: She wrote a heading at the top of each note card and underlined it. The heading indicated the idea on that note card. Usually, the heading matched one of the ideas on her working outline.
  5. Use your own words: Kiran used her own words for most of her notes.
  6. Put quotations in quotation marks: When Kiran found an idea expressed in a striking way, she sometimes copied it exactly as the author wrote it and enclosed the copied material in large quotation marks.
  7. Write the page number: After each note—whether in her own words or as a quotation—Kiran wrote the page number(s) where she had found the information. Some sources, such as the ones from the Internet, didn't have page numbers.
  8. Double-check your documentation: Kiran double-checked each note to make sure it had the number of the source and, where possible, the page number(s) from the source.

Here's a passage from pages of 34-35 Laughlin's book, followed by notes that Kiran made about the passage.


. . . By 1879, [Pullman's] manufacturing plant in Detroit and the repair units in three other cities were no longer sufficient to handle the increased business. Pullman needed more room and decided to build a new factory with a model town around it near Chicago, Illinois.

Pullman wanted to make life healthier and happier for his workers. He thought he could do so and make more money at the same time. He had read about three experimental industrial towns in Europe that had success combining work and home: Saltaire, England; Guise, France; and Essen, Germany. Pullman may have visited Saltaire, where alpaca woolens were manufactured, when he was in England selling his cars. His town greatly resembled Saltaire. . . .

Pullman featured a central square with public buildings and an arcade for the Pullman headquarters and other businesses. The Florence Hotel was built with brick, in the Queen Anne style, trimmed in stone, and roofed with slate. The town school maintained high standards, and the children of Pullman were guaranteed schooling from kindergarten through eighth grade. An evening school was added to provide high school courses, including mechanical drawing, bookkeeping, and secretarial skills. There was also a theater, a church, and a library. The library was seldom used because people had to pay a three-dollar annual fee. Unlike Andrew Carnegie, who built 2,800 free libraries, Pullman believed that people would only appreciate books if they had to pay to read them.

There were other symptoms of potential problems in Pullman. The church was not used until 1886 because the rent was too high. No other churches were allowed to be built, although fifteen religious denominations rented rooms or held services in towns nearby. Alcohol was banned because Pullman believed drinking was a bad habit. Though some of the houses Pullman built were of higher quality than the housing workers would have had access to elsewhere, the rents were also much higher. Pullman owned everything in the town, which meant residents had to shop at the company stores, and prices were strictly regulated. Because


a person's rent, for example, was deducted directly from his paycheck, many workers never received the money they earned—it went straight back into Pullman's coffers.

George Pullman was perplexed and hurt when his town was criticized as feudal or paternalistic. This means that, as in the Middle Ages, one man owns the land and controls much in the lives of the people who live on it, collecting rent and fees that he alone sets. Pullman felt that since people chose to live in his town he could not be accused of controlling their lives.

Many of the workers saw things differently. They felt that if they did not live in Pullman, they would not keep their jobs. This made them bitter because rents were higher than for comparable housing in nearby towns. Pullman countered by pointing out that the town provided many services, like mowing the grass and repairing the buildings. He had trouble grasping the fact that others wanted to participate in the economy, just as he did, by owning and maintaining their own homes. . . .

Here are two examples of notes Kiran took while reading Laughlin's book. Notice the topic heading, the source number, the page number in the source, and the information that Kiran put in her own words.


Pullman as a company town: positive

good education for workers' children
p. 34


Pullman as a company town: negative

Unhappy workers called the town feudal (term usually used to describe the worker/landowner system of the Middle Ages) and paternalistic (meaning one man owned and controlled everything).
p. 35

Kiran continued to skim her sources. Each time she found a passage related to an idea on her working outline, she slowed down her reading and took notes in her computer file.