Monday, October 29, 2012

Railroad Pension Files - where are they?

Oh Yes!! you heard right .......  I just received my grandfathers Railroad Pension file - well 82 pages out of 94 - not too bad. But let me start at the beginning.........

If you remember, while in Birmingham Alabama (end of August into September 2012) attending the FGS Conference, one of my sessions was Railroad Pensions. I was thrilled to see it in the syllabus and could hardly wait to be in this session. It turned out to be an excellent session with great information. It was taught by Archivist Maureen Hill , NARA Atlanta Georgia and Connie Potter  Washington DC NARA. NARA (National Archives) had a very good booth in the exhibitor hall - very helpful and lots of information. I stopped at the booth, gave them my grandfather railroad social security number and they were able to verify that he was in the system - they gave me the lot number along with other information.

All the Railroad Pension files were transferred from NARA in Washington D. C. to NARA in Atlanta Georgia. They said it was a simple request that could be done by email with certain information. They try for a 10 day turn around. So of course with this information in hand I went to my computer and composed the email with the information needed and sent it off........ 

My email is sent to with the following information:
      complete name of railroad worker, date of birth, date of death, social security # (railroad workers SS# should begin with 700's), RRB claim # (don't know what this is), storage # (this is a number that I got from the NARA booth at the conference)
I don't know if it was necessary but I gave a short paragraph of background information.....  the railroad name itself, years he worked, anybody who requested benefits (my grandmother). I think that you give them as much information as possible and then let them do their job and hope for the best.

AND also include:  your name, full address, telephone number, and email address

The cost when I started this back in Aug/Sept was $15 for 20 pages. As of 1 Oct it went up to $20 for 20 pages or $.75 a page. So for 94 it would cost me $ change for the entire file. The archivists say that alot of the material is simply pay stubs and sheets that have nothing to do with family research. Lots of conversations, emails, and telephone calls and a month and half later I received my grandfathers Pennsylvania Railroad Pension files.  Roger Miller my NARA helper (and probably an Archivist too)  were very considerate, and kept in touch with me.........  apparently after that conference there were more requests for pensions records than they could handle.... so yes it did take longer than advertised but it was worth it. I have a new friend at the Atlanta GA Nara Archives, Roger Miller.

My grandfathers death  certificate (no I didn't have a copy) and certificate of marriage (no I didn't have a copy) were included in this file. Also job titles of all the jobs he had done for the Penna RR Co since he started work there in 1905 and retired in 1955. Applications for retirement, application for survivors benefits and more.

Another question I asked  ………  IF there is another member of the family that worked for the same railroad but didn’t work for them after 1937, would there still be records of their employment somewhere? His reply was to contact the Railroad Retirement Board at 1-877-772-5772.  They can give you an accurate answer to your question. I have not tried calling yet but I will.

As I said I received 82 pages out of 94. I have gone through them several times. The best item was a Marriage Certificate. Now I have confirmation from 4 sources about this marriage and they all have the same information. I can remember a day not too long ago when I could not confirm the marriage at all.

For those of you that have Railroad workers, they will only be in these files if they worked for the Railroad after 1937, this is when the Pension program began.


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