Ellis Island Records – An entrance way into USA genealogy
Ellis Island Records – When some people learn what I do they say “Oh I’m 100% English/Scottish/Welsh, Irish, my ancestors never left to go overseas”. If I was a millionaire I would buy a lorry load of DNA kits so that I could whip one out, get them to spit into it and send it off – just to prove that no-one, and I mean no-one, is 100% from wherever they might think they are!! I am 76% from the south east of England, but then the rest of my genes roam far and wide over Europe and central Asia.
Therefore it is important to fling your genealogical net wide when researching, this is so much easier now that we have the internet and firms like Ancestry and FindMyPast to help us in our search, plus of course there are hundreds of other family history sites that we can use, we just have to know about them. And that is where MadAboutGenealogy comes in 🙂. So today I am going to suggest you take some time and look to see if any of your ancestors decided to take their chance of a better life by emigrating to the USA.
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Ellis Island Records – What is Ellis Island?
Between 1892 – 1954 in excess of 12 million people entered America via Ellis Island. The island is situated in New York Harbour, it started off as relatively small, but was expanded by using ships ballast and earth from the construction of the New York subway. The Statue of Liberty is very visible from the island and must have been a welcome sight after weeks at sea. Before becoming the first Federal immigration station the island had been used as barracks, a site for gallows for pirates and an ordinance depot. However when the states handed over immigration matters to the Federal government President Benjamin Harrison decided that it was the ideal spot to process the large numbers of people coming from all over the world seeking a new life in the land of opportunity.
If you have an Irish ancestor called Annie Moore then take a look at the records of the first person to be processed through Ellis Island, she was accompanied by her two brothers Anthony and Philip. Annie didn’t move far after leaving the ship as she settled in New York, got married and gave birth to at least ten children before dying in 1924.
Ellis Island Records – Where can the records be found?
There are several places online where the Ellis Island records and information can be found.
Ellis Island is now a major historic tourist attraction as well as the archive of the immigration records generated there. The website has grown immensely since it’s beginnings many years ago and to look and read all that it offers could easily take an afternoon if not longer. Well worth a look. But the section of most interest to genealogists is the Passenger Database. Click Here to access the Passenger Database.
To start a search simply enter in an ancestors name, you will then be given a list of possible entries. Clicking on an entry will drop down a box asking you to register or if you have already done so then to log in. This brings you to a page with several options
- Passenger List
- Ships Manifest
- Ship Information
- Text Passenger List
There are opportunities to purchase various items, but you can still access much information without doing so. I put in a search for Hyram Mulcock, who I knew had moved from Coleshill, Berkshire to the USA. I found an entry and it gave me the following information = Hyrum Mulcock, age 60 years, place of birth Britain, arrived 1926 aboard the Carmania, manifest line no. 12. There was also a small photograph of the Carmania, plus I could view the passenger list which showed further details such as he traveled with his wife Mary, next of kin etc. Copies of all the paperwork can be purchased if you so wish.
FamilySearch offers an index to records 1892 – 1924. They have a very small number of images as well. Once an entry is found then there is a link to The Ellis Island Foundation website. Interestingly FamilySearch states they have 25 million records whereas Ellis Island Foundation say they hold data for 12 million entries. Not sure why the huge difference, but this alerts us to check both websites.
A successful search gives name, last address, arrival date, age, ports of departure and arrival, gender, marital status, citizenship status and ships name.
Ancestry has Ellis Island records available including digitised images of the original passenger lists. Therefore if you want to have a copy of the passenger list you may want to consider an Ancestry.com subscription as the charge on the Elllis Island site is $30 per page. This would go quite some way towards an Ancestry subscription or upgrade of a Ancestry UK subscription !
Through Ancestry I can see Hyrum Mulcock, age 50 years, occupation contractor, can read & write, speaks English, departure port Southampton, was traveling with his wife Mary and much, much more. Plus of course I can download a copy of the shipping list and attach it to his entry on my family tree.
Castle Garden was the New York Immigration Centre before the Federal Government took over the job from the State Governments. It was in operation from 1820 until Ellis Island opened in 1892. I suspect that some of the extra records included in the FamilySearch database may be Castle Garden records.
The Castle Garden website has a free to search immigrant database and when a result is found a transcript is given. Like Ellis Island Castle Garden is now an historic tourist attraction.
Ancestry.com – has Castle Garden records under it’s New York Passenger Lists 1820 – 1957 database. The database is of passenger list transcripts with some images of the ships.
Ellis Island Records – Summary
So did any of your ancestors land at Ellis Island or at Castle Garden ? If so then the websites mentioned above will be of interest to you. I have more work to do on the American branch of my Mulcock family and writing this post has inspired me to start work on them as soon as I have proof-read this post and scheduled it to go out to you on the internet. Let’s go find and record the stories of those brave souls who landed at Ellis Island in search of a new life and opportunities!
Happy ancestor hunting.
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