Saturday, November 12, 2011

Passenger Lists as a Research Tool

The Dutch Flute-an early 17th century ship
       Last May, I attended a webinar hosted by John Colletta, PhD on the topic of passenger lists. An authority on the subject, Mr. Coletta has written a book called "They Came in Ships" (see the image below). One suggestion he offers when searching for passenger lists on the Ellis Island website is to start out searching broad such as by using a first name or a village name. He also suggests to think like a transcriber as to how names could have been misspelled. Ellis Island processed arrivals from 1892 to 1924. For the dates between 1855 and 1890, Steve Morse has a search page set up for searching Castle Garden lists.

Other resources provided by this webinar include:

  • Use as a starting point. They have a comprehensive document with associated links called "How Can Ship Passenger Lists Help Me in My Research?" to get you pointed in the right direction.
  • ...another comprehensive website is Immigrant Ships. These folks are looking for volunteer transcribers.
  •  ...and yet more links to keep you up past midnight: The Ships List, and Genealogy Branches
  • For paying sites, check out Ancestry and World Vital Records.

Lastly, Lisa Alzo is conducting a webinar entitled "Tracing Immigrant Ancestors" on December 7, 2011 sponsored by Legacy Family Tree. She will cover tips and tricks for locating and searching passenger lists.