One of the FGS programs that I have had the pleasure to watch is “All Aboard! Locating Railroad Crew Members in Your Family Tree” by Melanie McComb. I am fascinated by the topic as I know many people in my family tree worked on the railroad and that the local library for the Buffalo Irish Genealogical Society (BIGS) is located in the Railroad Museum building and they employment records for many individuals. I can’t wait for libraries to open up again!
Melanie suggested four big steps in her presentation and here are some of my notes:
- Identify the railroad employees in your family tree.
- She suggested many different records that might list railroad employment. For me, I know that I have found them listed in census, directories, newspapers, family stories, and pictures.
- Identify the railroad line.
- She suggested looking in pictures and railroad directories. I have also seen the railroad line in newspapers and census records. I know that many people in my family worked for NYCRR.
- Contact railroad archives in the region your relative lived.
- Melanie suggested looking for employment records, service cards, account books, etc. I would LOVE to be able to find some employment records from NYCRR at BIGS the next time I can go there.
- Conduct research.
- I started this off already by creating a MyTreeTag on Ancestry for “Railroad” where I indicated those that I found listed as working on the railroad. I would love to sit down someday and spend more time on one person in my tree to create a timeline listing each time their railroad employment was mentioned.
Some links that I want to check out later are:
- Railway & Locomotive Historical Society, Inc.: https://rlhs.org/Reference/research.shtml
- Cyndi’s List: https://www.cyndislist.com/railroads/records/
- Buffalo Irish Genealogical Society: https://bigsny.webs.com
- Biographical Directory of Railway Officials of America (1885-1922) at HathiTrust: https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/006125309
- Library of Congress Railroad Maps Collection: https://www.loc.gov/collections/railroad-maps-1828-to-1900/
Melanie McComb is a staff genealogists for American Ancestors and is known as The Shamrock Genealogist. You can follow her blog here: https://www.theshamrockgenealogist.com