Check here for an overview of resources to learn about NP employees in your family


As one of the original transcontinental railroads, the Northern Pacific established towns along its right-of-way. Once the construction crews moved on, a town’s first inhabitants were often railroad employees, conducting business and maintaining the railroad itself. Job retention depended not only on one’s ability but also on demand. The rise of trade unions formalized employment arrangements by defining not only working conditions but also the flow of workers.

Seniority on the job mattered, and both the unions and the company kept records. Information from such records is available for research online and at various archives. Former NPRHA members have compiled lists of resources, and a database of employees mentioned in various sources is nearing 50,000 entries.


NPRHA volunteers are actively working on compiling information from all of these sources. You can see the results of their ongoing efforts in the Employees section of the research website: The list is approaching 50,000 entries.

The 2009 NPRHA Mainstreeter article “Genealogy and the Northern Pacific” provides several possible employee genealogical resources. Some are more precise than others, but each resource helps complete a picture of ancestors connected to the NP. formats name searches of the Northern Pacific employee records they hold. (Paid membership required except at some public libraries.) also allows name and location searches. (Paid membership required except at some public libraries.)
U. S. Census entries

City directories
(Polk was the most popular; many libraries and archives have preserved them)

The above sources use less-precise language and provide only isolated time/location info. NP corporate records and 3rd party time books (e.g., Big Five Railroad), given away by local advertisers, provide the most accurate and detailed information.