Before the Chicago and North Western Historical Society donated a large mass of property and personnel records to the Newberry Library, the society allowed “Ancestry” to scan its large collection of social security W-4 cards as well as a huge mass of “work cards concerning individuals from all across the system.

Ancestry has recently processed those work (retirement and deceased employee) cards which concerned many individuals who worked for the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis and Omaha Railroad.  Images of those cards are now available on line.

The “Omaha” as it was called was wholly owned by the Chicago and North Western Railroad but operated as an independent subsidiary. Its territory included central and northwest Wisconsin as well as northeastern and southeastern Minnesota and eastern South Dakota and Nebraska.  The collection does not include data concerning management employees.

The collection can be accessed on Ancestry by going to the “Ancestry Card Catalog” and then entering “Omaha Railroad” in the keyword box.  The search is by the name of the individual of interest.  If a card is found, the image will be clear on both front and reverse sides.  Most of the cards contain birth dates while about half of the cards also contain death dates.

The fact that Ancestry has made the Omaha card collection available give hope that their processing of the main body of the collection will be made available sometime soon.  The W-4 social security card file presents some difficulty in terms of privacy issues which has slowed the placing of that collection on line.  Once that collection does become available, family historians will be thrilled to see what they can find there.

Do keep in mind that the Chicago and North Western Historical Society’s archives can provide old photographs and maps of almost all of the communities served by the railroad. Contact the C&NW Historical Society at

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Chicago and North Western Railroad Personnel Records