Now What? Researching a Railroad Employee’s Death

By James M. Beidler Premium

Q. My ancestor died in 1926 while working for the Lehigh Valley Railroad. Where can I find records about this?

A. The Lehigh Valley Railroad was known as the Delaware, Lehigh, Schuylkill and Susquehanna Railroad when it was founded in 1846. The railroad’s name changed in 1853, and its tracks in its area of dominance—eastern Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey—became known as the “Route of the Black Diamond” because the railway transported so much anthracite coal from northeast Pennsylvania. See <> for more history.
Aaron McWilliams of the Pennsylvania State Archives says that his repository has some employee records in its Lehigh Valley Railroad Collection, but a better place to start is the Interstate Commerce Commission’s (ICC) Historic Railroad Investigation Reports. These documents provide a great deal of information on both fatal and nonfatal railroad accidents. Reports from 1911 to 1994 are online. A quick search turns up two fatal accidents involving Lehigh Valley Railroad employees in 1926.
“If you have no luck with the ICC reports, you may want to try the Lehigh Valley Railroad Minutes and reports [in the Pennsylvania State Archives collection listed above], although they generally do not provide much information, if any,” McWilliams says. “Local newspapers tend to be a better source than either the minutes or the reports.” Use Chronicling America to identify local newspapers to search.

From the March 2010 Family Tree Magazine

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