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Railroad Records

America’s railroad systems have crisscrossed the country for decades. Yet the most important element have been the people who built the railroads, maintained them, the engineers, the conductors and many more who saw the everyday operations kept on schedule. In your family research you just might come across an ancestor who work with the railroad system.

The U. S. Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) maintains and see to the benefits due former railroad workers. Presently they deal with former railroad system members who worked after 1936. If you have any relatives that worked after 1936, the RRB is who you should contact. Their online site provides details of what type of information for genealogical purposes they can provide. There is a $27 fee to search the records and send you copies.

After October 2010 many railroad employee’s records were sent to the National Archives National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) southeast branch based in Morrow, Georgia, which is outside of Atlanta. So this is also an important place to check about any ancestors who worked on the railroads. However, there are still numerous records still handled by the RRB in Chicago, Illinois.

An important item need when requesting information either from the RRB or NARA is the Social Security number for the ancestor. If a worker retired from the railroad system before the 1930s (when the social security came into existence) then there may not a social security number.

If you have a relative still living for which you want to request the railroad records, then written signed permission from that person must go along with the request. Again the RRB will have primarily records on those who were employed after 1936.

Some of the type of records contained in a worker’s folder can include the military service, listing of family members at certain times, the railroad service including places the person worked. Such information can help fill in some blanks in the research.

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