Monday, May 25, 2009

Vital Records for Railroad Employees

At a recent live auction that I attended there were three box lots of a monthly publication for the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen listed. I had been collecting a similar publication for the same group that later merged with another and became the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen, so my interest in these three lots was high.

Locomotive Firemen Magazine (January 1889)This may sound weird, but at these auctions I prefer NOT to look too closely at the items or lots. I look just enough to ensure that there is some genealogical value. That way I'm less disappointed if I don't win the lot.

I "went for it" on these three, won them, and quickly shuffled them off to my truck. (Sadly, items do tend to mysteriously walk away at these auctions). The next morning I flew to Raleigh, N. C. for the NGS conference; it wasn't until this weekend that I finally had a chance to sit down and sort through the boxes.

Just to put into perspective how exciting this find was, my previous collection of these publications focused between 1908 to 1916, although I did win a large lot off eBay covering 1928-1933. Recently, I managed to get a handful of copies from some dealers dating back to 1897.

After sorting all 98 issues in these three boxes, I was amazed to see that they went all the way back to 1889! This is earlier than any issue I've ever seen for sale or online. Oh, why do I like these publications? They are filled with promotions, marriages, births of children and deaths of the members (i.e. railroad employees).

Yesterday, I transcribed the ten issues from 1889 (March and November were missing), and just posted them online as part of my Family Tree Connection (subscription) database project. The name indexes are free to search, and you can browse through the issues by visiting or using the Live Roots for Facebook application.

Each week, I will attempt to post another year of this amazing collection.

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