11 September 2013

Workday Wednesday: All Aboard for Researching Your Railroad Worker

Patricia Walls Stamm, CG, CGL presented Railroad Records Across America at the recent Federation of Genealogical Conference in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  I knew when I saw this option that I would for sure be going to it.  I have a few ancestors that worked in the railroad industry:

  • David Watt, paternal great grandfather, was an engineer for Duluth, South Shore and Atlantic railroad.
  • Frank H. Glover, paternal great grandfather, was a brakeman for a yet to be identified railroad.
  • Claude Glover, paternal great uncle, was an engineer for Lake Superior and Ishpeming Railroad.
Patricia Walls Stamm did an excellent job with helping those who would like to research the railroad industry.  It was mentioned that locating railroad records is a challenge.  There is no one repository for the information.  She presented her lecture in three parts:
  1. In the Roundhouse-Introduction:  She took us through the history of railroads and how they changed names or dissolved.  She suggested we check "Railroad Names: a Directory of Common Carrier Railroads Operating in the United States 1826-1997" for more information.
  2. In the Depot-Repositories:  This section provided one with information about where to look for information.  Ms. Walls Stamm suggested checking libraries for manuscripts, using a search engine for the railroad or area one is researching, and using railroad maps for the time period one is researching.
  3. Getting Down the Tracks-Records:  Information on accidents, company records, publications, and retirement records was covered.
I came away with a wealth of information on how to get started with my railroad research.  I look forward to digging deeper and finding out more about the work that my ancestor's did.

Here are a few online railroad resources to get you started, courtesy of Ms. Walls Stamm,

Library of Congress.  Railroad Maps 1828-1900.

Poor's Manual of the Railroads of the United States.  Various years available at google books.

Union Pacific.  Railroad Job Descriptions  

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