Archive for August, 2014

To successfully track your early ancestors ‘across the pond’, you will need to know where lived in the ‘old country’. That information can often be found in immigration records,but  Ellis Island records won’t help you in this time period because they didn’t begin until 1892.

In the early days of American Colonization, existing lists of ships passengers are sporadic. It sometimes seems like your ancestor was suddenly dropped on the Convenient.  A great finding aid is a wonderful, comprehensive index that contains 5+ million individuals, and thousands of sources. Originally created by William Filby, it covers 1500-1900, is updated annually, and can be found on both Ancestry ancestry.com and World Vital Records worldvitalrecords.com. Both are subscription websites and, both can be accessed for free at most LDS Family History Centers.

This Index is called the  “U.S. and Canada, Passenger and Immigration Lists Index 1500s-1900s. To easily locate and search this list on Ancestry I like to go straight to the Card Catalog, which is  found under the search tab. I begin by typing in the word Immigration and searching. Currently this index comes up as the first entry. By going directly to the index I am searching only within that database, and my results are cleaner.

When you find an ancestor listed you may find not only their name, but also the year and place of arrival, and the source of the record. The sources include ships lists, [where they exist], compiled sources, town records, periodicals, newspapers, colony and court records, church and land records, journals and letters. These sources will often give you an ancestor’s place of origin.

My search for my 10th g grandmother Elizabeth Warren yielded 36 entries, for her each from a different source. She came in 1623 on the “Anne”, with her children. As her husband Richard came earlier on the Mayflower so I wasn’t too surprise to find records for her. A nice surprise was a 9th g grandmother Martha Holgrove, whose origins were more obscure. I found that she had several entries with sources attached. [HINT: you may need to look for women under their married name, or look for their husband and then access the sources.]

Ancestors who came after 1820 are a topic for another day. In the mean time, check out this resource. If you haven’t looked at it before you may be pleasantly surprised

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