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Railroad Employees at the Pennsylvania State Archives

Note : None of records held by the Pennsylvania State Archives provide comprehensive information about the employees of any railroad. Documentation is incomplete at best, and often non-existent. Thus, you may also wish to consult the genealogical webpage of the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board, a federal board that has administered a comprehensive retirement benefit program for railroad workers nationwide since 1937. Genealogical searches of Railroad Retirement Board records can be requested as per the instructions given on their webpage.

Here are citations of records at the Pennsylvania State Archives that may also be helpful.

  1. Pennsylvania Railroad:

    The main genealogical series we have for PRR employees is the Enrollment Cards, 1881-1968 (300 cubic ft.) of the PRR's Voluntary Relief Deptartment {series #286m.417}.

    If you do not find your PRR ancestor in the Voluntary Relief Dept. Enrollment Cards, the following series may also contain select information relating to PRR employees:

    • PRR / Secretary / By-Laws and Organizational Manuals, 1847-1956. (1.5 cu. ft.)  {#286m.77}
    • PRR / Secretary / Death and Retirement Memorials for Deceased and Retired Board Members, 1901-1958. (.5 cu.ft.) {#286m.82}
    • PRR / Secretary / Index Card File of the Officers of the PRR and Subsidiaries, ca 1920-1968. (1.5 cu. ft.)  {#286m.93}
    • PRR / Secretary / Lists of Company Officials, ca 1846-1899. (.9 cu. ft.) {#286m.103}
    • PRR / Secretary / Record of Inscriptions on Board Room Chair Plates, ca 1846-1963. (.25 cu. ft.) {#286m.150}
    • PRR / V.P. of Central Retion / Oil City Divison Log Book, 1911-1942. (.05 cu. ft.) {#286m.189}
    • PRR / V.P. of Eastern Region / Labor and Wage Statements, 1924. (1 cu. ft.) {#286m.196}
    • PRR / V.P. of Finance / Bonding and Pension Files, ca 1900-1940. (1.1 cu. ft.) {#286m.206}
    • .4 cu. ft.) {#286m.214}
    • PRR / V.P. of Finance / Payroll Sheets, 1947-1955. (1
    • PRR / V.P. of Finance / Record of Employees, 1855-1940. (.1 cu. ft.) {#286m.216}
    • PRR / V.P of Operation / Chief of Motive Power / Chronologies of Labor Relations, ca 1936. (1 cu. ft.)  {#286m.373}
    • PRR / V.P. of Operation / Chief of Motive Power / Motive Power Personnel Records, ca 1870-1912. (.7 cu. ft.)  {#286m.319}
    • PRR / V.P of Operation / Chief of Motive Power / Record of Disablements: New York to Washington Electrification Project (RD 5), 1934-1936. (.3 cu. ft.)  {#286m.333}
    • PRR / V.P of Operation / Chief of Motive Power / Time Reports (MP 372), 1938-1946. (5.25 cu. ft.)  {#286m.356}
    • PRR / V.P. of Personnel / Hiring Manuals, 1956. (.1 cu. ft.) {#286m.374}
    • PRR / V.P. of Personnel / Order of Railway Conductors Personnel Records, [ca. 1946, & undated]. (.33 cu. ft.) {#286m.375}
    • PRR / V.P. of Personnel / Salary Committee and Performance Appraisal Program Files, 1955-1966. (1.5 cu. ft.) {#286m.376}
    • PRR / V.P. of Real Estate and Taxation / General Correspondence Files and Coal Mine Reports, 1930-1938. (1.5 cu. ft.)  {#286m.387}
    • PRR / Subsidiaries / Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington Railroad: Record of Payrolls of the Office of Division Freight Agent, 1904-1915.  (.1 cu. ft.)  {#286m.1234}
    • Special Collections Microfilm / Historical Records / Record Books of the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen, Keystone Lodge 42, Harrisburg, PA {MG-262, microfilm rolls #3318-3319}


    If you have no luck finding information about your PRR ancestor in any of these records, you may want to try contacting the following institutions, which also hold some PRR personnel-related records:

    Hagley Museum & Library
    P.O. Box 3630
    Greenville, DE 19807
    (302) 658-2400

    Urban Archives
    Paley Library
    Temple University
    Philadelphia, PA 19122
    (215) 204 5750

    Railroaders' Memorial Museum
    1300 Ninth Ave.
    Altoona, PA 16602
    (814) 946-0834

  2. Other Railroads:
  • If your ancestor worked for another railroad line or industry not subsumed by the PRR, consult the research guide page entitled State Archives Collections Relating to Railroads.

  • The following series may be of assistance to you:
    • PRR / Subsidiaries / Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington Railroad / Record of Payrolls of the Office of Division Freight Agent, 1904-1915.  (.1 cu. ft.)  {#286m.1234}
    • Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company / Inactive Employment Record Cards, 1913-1965. (2 drawers) {#311m.18}
    • Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company / Subsidiaries / Lehigh & New England Railroad Co. / Road Payrolls, 1895-1910. (7 volumes) {#311m.168}
    • Lehigh Valley Railroad / Real Estate Dept. Records / Relief Fund Books, 1884-93. (3 volumes) {#274m.38}
    • Lehigh Valley Railroad / Real Estate Dept. Records / Rent Rolls, 1894-1909. (10 volumes) {#274m.38}
    • Pullman Standard Car Manufacturing Company / Personnel Records subroup (multiple series) {#393m.9-393m.15}
    • Real Estate Trust Company of Philadelphia Records 1888-1954 {MG-338}
    • Schuylkill Navigation Company: Philadelphia and Reading Relief Association Receipts {MG-110}
    • Special Collections Microfilm / Historical Records / Record Books of the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen, Keystone Lodge 42, Harrisburg, PA {MG-262, microfilm rolls #3318-3319}

  • Finally, you may want to refer to the topical indices and tables of contents for Robert Dructor's Guide to Genealogical Sources at the Pennsylvania State Archives, 2nd edition.

Railroad employees

If you need further assistance, you may contact an archivist at ra-statearchives@pa.gov