Effective October 1, 2010, many requests for genealogical information concerning railroad workers will be handled by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) rather than the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB). However, some requests will continue to be handled by the RRB. Genealogists and family historians should still initially contact the RRB with their requests. We will determine whether the RRB or NARA has the information requested.
Genealogists should note the following:
The U.S. Railroad Retirement Board administers a Federal retirement benefit program covering the nation's railroad workers. The records we maintain deal primarily with the administration and payment of these benefits. We will provide information on deceased persons for the purpose of genealogical research. However, we will not release information on a person who is still living without the written consent of that person.
Our records are limited to individuals who worked in the rail industry after 1936. Please do not contact us with requests for records before that date. We do not have that information. Nor do we generally have any pertinent records of persons whose rail service was performed on a casual basis and/or was of short duration. Also, the RRB's records are only on persons whose employers were covered under the Railroad Retirement Act.Employers such as streetcar, interurban, or suburban electric railways are not covered under this Act.
The fee for searching our records is currently $27 for each employee on whom records are requested. Your check or money order should be made payable to the Railroad Retirement Board. The fee is payable before any search is attempted. If we determine that NARA has custody of the requested records, you will be informed of that and your inquiry and payment will be returned to you with information on how to contact NARA. However, the fee is not refundable if, after a search is conducted, we determine that no records exist.
What We Need
The RRB's records are kept by the railroad employee's social security number (SSN), which often appears on a death certificate. In some cases, if that number is not available, having the employee's full name, including middle name or initial, and complete dates of birth and death may be of some help in determining whether we have any records of that person. However, in dealing with relatively common surnames, it is usually not possible to make a positive identification without the employee's SSN.
Where to Send Requests
Requests for genealogical information and accompanying checks should be sent to:
U.S. Railroad Retirement Board
Congressional Inquiry Section
844 North Rush Street
Chicago, Illinois 60611-1275
Generally, the RRB requires at least 30-60 days to reply to genealogical inquiries.