Payroll Records

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California State Railroad Museum,
a part of California State Parks

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The Central Pacific payroll ledgers are part of the Central Pacific Railroad Collection (MS 79) at the California State Railroad Museum Library. This series consists of construction payroll  sheets for the building of the Central Pacific Railroad from 1864 to 1866.

The payrolls are handwritten on printed forms and were issued by the railroad for “C[harles] Crocker, Contractor.”  Sheets list important identifying information including date (month and year), location (camp number, geological feature, etc.) occupation, rates of pay, and total pay received.  In some cases the payroll sheets list payments to labor contractors — Caucasian and also Chinese names of individuals and companies that collected pay for groups of workers.

The collection includes some payroll  sheets for Chinese worker groups, as well as payroll information for James Strobridge and other construction officials.

The payrolls are numbered consecutively for the period 1864 to 1865.  A new consecutive numbering system seems to have been instituted in 1866, starting again with the number one.  The payrolls are arranged by year and then by month and ledger number.

The California State Railroad Museum Library does not have a complete set; there are missing numbers within each year. These payrolls were a gift from Southern Pacific Railroad in 1992.

For access to the original payrolls, or any other materials in the California State Railroad Museum Library, please contact staff in advance at Library.CSRM@parks.ca.gov or (916) 323-8073. The Library is open Tuesday through Saturday from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. For more information please visit our website at http://www.csrmf.org/library-and-collections.

The Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project website is subject to Stanford University’s standard Terms of Use (http://library.stanford.edu/about/terms-of-use). Images and other materials housed in the database are  individually copyrighted, and are subject to use restrictions based on the requirements of copyright holders.  Please consult with the copyright holder for the individual item for permission to reuse.

The captions accompanying photographs are provided by the holding institutions and are reproduced here as part of the historical record. They may contain descriptors and terminology that are offensive to us today. Similar issues of offensive language may arise in historical texts and place names on this website.

The identifying titles accompanying payroll records are those that appear at the top of the records themselves and are reproduced here as part of the historical record.

Camp No. 23 1/2, Payroll No. [no number], March 1866

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Camp No. 9, CPRR Payroll No. [no number], March 1866

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“China Men”, CPRR Payroll No. 158, May 1865

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Camp No. 7, CPRR Payroll No. 120, March 1865

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“China Labor”, CPRR Payroll No. 128, April 1865

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