Finding Out More
Tracing emigrants and immigrants
Ship passenger lists are the official record of people
travelling by ship. Government records of such migration to or from
Britain are at the National Archives. There are gaps in the
national record and more importantly, some records were never kept.
For instance, there are no lists of those emigrating from Britain
to Ireland among the passenger lists 1890-1960, and no records were
kept after 1960 at British ports of emigrants or immigrants. The
National Archives` leaflet
explains how to use the passenger lists.
Frustratingly, there is no name index to the passenger lists, so
you need to know the port and date of departure, and the name of
the ship. For emigrants, it is usually easier to trace the official
records of their country of arrival. The ongoing series of
the Passenger and Immigration Lists Index is a guide
to those arriving in North America from the first European
settlements to the twentieth century. It is available in book form,
as a CD-ROM and as a subscription database. Christina
Schaefer`s Guide to naturalization records of the United
States (Genealogical Publishing Co, 1997) helps to explain
these useful records.
About 20 million people passed through Ellis Island, New York as
immigrants to America in the period 1880 and 1930. Their records
are available to search online at www.ellisisland.org. Other
countries that experienced large-scale immigration in the
nineteenth and twentieth centuries, such as Canada and Australia,
have official records of arrivals in their national
Moving Here [website] is a website devoted to the experience of
migration for those who came to England over the last 200 years. It
concentrates on the Caribbean, Irish, Jewish and South Asian
communities, and offers access to more than 150,000 items from its
many partner organisations. It also allows people to record their
own experience of `Moving Here`, and add their own photographs.
There are many websites about passenger lists, immigration and
emigration. If you are just starting out using the Internet, check
out the national archives first, because they usually offer
practical guides to their holdings and how to use them. We have
covered Britain`s National Archives in this section, but other
countries like the USA and Canada will offer something similar.
There are also commercial websites offering access to
computerised records, and a huge number of websites created by
enthusiasts. These offer masses of links and it would be easy to
get bogged down by the large number of them. Two websites offering
many links to other site are Cyndi`s List and The Ships List.
Cyndi`s List [website] is a huge
resource for genealogists worldwide. The Ships List [website] will lead you to
details of passenger records, immigration reports as well as lists