Hobo Code of Ethics


Today’s Myths, folklore & symbolism post over at Julie K. Rose’s blog featured a symbol from the “US system of hobo signs”. I had no idea there was such a system, so I had to do some research over at wikipedia. What I found was very interesting. Thanks for the idea Julie! Isn’t it great that we live in a world where we can do some quick research on a topic without ever having to put down the morning’s cup of tea?

There’s some fascinating stuff over at Wikipedia’s entry on Hobo. Not only is there description on the symbols hobos used, but there is also a listing of a Hobo Code of Ethics, which was, according to Wikipedia, created by Tourist Union #63 during its 1889 National Hobo Convention in St. Louis Missouri. Here is the code of ethics they decided upon:

  1. Decide your own life, don’t let another person run or rule you.
  2. When in town, always respect the local law and officials, and try to be a gentleman at all times.
  3. Don’t take advantage of someone who is in a vulnerable situation, locals or other hoboes.
  4. Always try to find work, even if temporary, and always seek out jobs nobody wants. By doing so you not only help a business along, but insure employment should you return to that town again.
  5. When no employment is available, make your own work by using your added talents at crafts.
  6. Do not allow yourself to become a stupid drunk and set a bad example for locals treatment of other hoboes.
  7. When jungling in town, respect handouts, do not wear them out, another hobo will be coming along who will need them as bad, if not worse than you.
  8. Always respect nature, do not leave garbage where you are jungling.
  9. If in a community jungle, always pitch in and help.
  10. Try to stay clean, and boil up wherever possible.
  11. When traveling, ride your train respectfully, take no personal chances, cause no problems with the operating crew or host railroad, act like an extra crew member.
  12. Do not cause problems in a train yard, Another hobo will be coming along who will need passage through that yard.
  13. Do not allow other hoboes to molest children, expose to authorities all molesters, they are the worst garbage to infest any society.
  14. Help all runaway children, and try to induce them to return home.
  15. Help your fellow hoboes whenever and wherever needed, you may need their help someday.

This is fascinating to me, that this group of people would get together as a community and come up with this system of symbols and code of conduct to insure their survival.  Several story ideas spring to mind, but I need to stick with my current novel.

Anyhow, I thought someone else might find this interesting as well.

17 thoughts on “Hobo Code of Ethics

  1. I’ve heard about hobos, but knew next to nothing about them. thanks for the information.
    I wonder if they kept these rules.
    Rule# 13 is somehow frigtening to me…It means that there were hoboes who actually did molest children…

  2. But you did make notes on all those interesting story ideas, right? You can always use a stash of good ideas for after the novel, and this stuff is pretty intriguing.

  3. Pingback: סימנים | קצה - עמי בן בסט

  4. Pingback: Weekly Reblog #7: Hobo Code of Ethics | Paths Unwritten

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