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Migration is defined as the movement
from one country, place or locality to another. The reasons varied
for such movements, but they were primarily (a) finding enough food
(b) breeding and (c) climate. According to archaeological findings,
the homo sapiens evolved somewhere in the warm climates of the Ethiopian
plains of Africa. From this beginning man began his migrations to
all four corners of the earth. Even the Indians, the only true "native"
Americans, were migrants. They came to the new world over a prehistoric
land bridge from Asia, settled here, and developed for thousands of
years before the first European explorers discovered them in the fifteenth
Migration to America started to gain momentum after
the Napoleonic Wars. This great migration was spurred in large by
the effects of the industrial revolution, but it no longer seems to
express adequately the phenomenal changes and social upheaval that
took place during the nineteenth century. New technology, inventions,
materials, concepts of self government and the rights of man wrenched
the centuries old European culture from its traditional mainstays
of land, church, and aristocracy and thrust it headlong into the modern
age. The effects of this great revolution, along with a steady growth
in Europe’s population, displaced an ancient social system and induced
millions to leave their homes, and attempt to find their livelihoods
Emigration is defined as departing
from one country or region to settle or reside in another.
The migration of masses of people from European countries
ascending on the ports of debarkation attracted millions of emigrants
who wanted to be moved from one country to another. Nearly sixty million
people packed up their belongings and traveled thousands of miles
to seek new opportunities in new lands, to find political or religious
freedom. Not all emigrants came to the United States. Australia, New
Zealand, Argentina, Brazil and Canada attracted about one third of
the total emigrant population, and millions more moved from one country
to another within European boundaries.
The decision to leave was not an easy one, and once
made, was beset again and again by a variety of obstacles. The emigrant
had to apply for identity papers, visas and medical documents for
himself and his family; he had to choose a destination and plan a
route of travel on secondhand information from often unreliable sources.
If he lived far inland, he would also have to arrange transportation
to a port on the Atlantic or Mediterranean. To finance his journey,
the emigrant would sell all his property - all, that is, that he could
not carry with him and pack up the rest in makeshift boxes and bundles.
He might also have to borrow money, which he could not pay back until
he had established himself in his new country.
The overland journey to a port of embarkation was
disheartening for those who had long distances to cover. In the days
before the railroad, the emigrants traveled by wagon, carriage, barge
or on foot. They were often victimized by dishonest innkeepers and
border guards. Once in port they were harassed by hordes of land based
pirates, swindlers selling counterfeit tickets and unscrupulous agents
selling passage on ships that were barely seaworthy. High pressure
jobbers would buttonhole emigrants and take them to disreputable inns
or other places where they could be fleeced by a lively assortment
of thugs, prostitutes and thieves.
Emigrant guide books, newspaper articles, and promotional
brochures from states in the midwest and west seeking settlers, steamship
lines selling passage, and railway companies selling transcontinental
tickets all spread the good word about America as a new promised land.
The big transatlantic steamship companies looking for trade (White
Star, Cunard, Hamburg America, La Compagnie Generale Transatlantique)
were especially aggressive in promoting an extravagant and inviting
image of the United States. They had thousands of agents throughout
Europe distributing posters and selling tickets.
The transatlantic voyage was the next ordeal for
the emigrants and was probable their worst.
Sailing ships were designed to carry cargo, not passengers
and there was little effort to adapt them for human comfort. Apart
from bringing on provisions - flour, potatoes, oatmeal, tea, some
salted fish, and water (often stored in rancid casks used previously
for oil or other containments) - a captain merely would lay down a
temporary deck over the cargo and construct narrow, flimsy berths
that could be dismantled after the voyage.
Passengers were packed tightly, often with no more
than a few square feet of space per person. There were no toilet facilities
and no windows, so sanitation and ventilation were serious problems.
Conditions varied among vessels, but nearly all emigrants on sailing
ships, regardless of class, had to suffer overcrowding and disorder,
seasickness, a foul atmosphere, and poor food. A trip took anywhere
from five weeks to two months; a few recorded trips took 100 days
or more. A storm could make things much worse. With the ship pitching
and creaking, decks awash, hatches battened down, people sick everywhere,
it was a miserable experience.
Worse yet was the knowledge that at any moment disaster
could strike in the form of fire, shipwreck or epidemic. On a wooden
ship, lighted candles and open cooking fires were a constant hazard.
It was not unusual for more than 100 people to die of shipboard fires
in a single year. Shipwrecks, too, took their toll. In the terrible
winter of 1853-54, 200 German immigrants drowned when their ship was
driven onto the New Jersey shore, and 480 emigrants and their ship
out of Glasgow disappeared altogether.
Much more common and lethal were epidemics. Typhus
or "ship fever", spread by lice, produced a frightful mortality
rate. In 1847, the worst year of the Irish Famine, a total of 7,000
emigrants died of typhus at sea and 10,000 more after arrival in Quebec.
Another scourge was Asiatic cholera, caused by an intestinal microbe
and spread in contaminated water, The worst year for cholera was 1853,
when ten to fifteen percent of the passengers on some ships succumbed
to the disease.
With all dire possibilities, there still were pleasant
moments at sea. Certainly, no entertainment was provided by the shipping
lines, but in good weather, passengers could go on deck. Men and boys
might help the sailors haul sail or make repairs. Women and girls
sat on deck reading or chatting. Children played with homemade toys,
marbles, cards and dominoes. There were worship services, sometimes
music and dancing.
With the advent of steam, the quality of transatlantic
passage was gradually elevated from potentially deadly to merely uncomfortable.
By the 1870's the trip had been shortened to ten to fourteen days
on the average, reducing the threat of epidemics. Typhus and smallpox
still cropped up occasionally, but at least all ships by then had
physicians on staff, and conditions in steerage had been improved
enough to control contagion to some degree.
After 1886 the most impressive structure in sight
was the 300 foot copper clad Statue of Liberty.
Immigration is defined as settlers coming into a
country of which one is not a native for permanent residence.
Immigration into the New World began with the discovery
of the continent by Christopher Columbus in 1492. His many trips from
Spain introduced the Europeans to the new lands for various purposes,
mainly the search for gold. This opened the unchecked and unregulated
influx until the mid-nineteenth century.
The Spanish came first, then the Dutch, Swedish,
English, French, Germans, Scotch-Irish, Poles and Italians. In addition
thousands of Blacks were brought here as slaves. The English were
the most numerous. They brought with them their language and other
Anglo-Saxon traditions that largely became the basis of the American
way of life.
Patterns of settlement were determined by the type
and availability of land and employment, approximating conditions
in settlers homelands. The Spanish - in search of gold - explored
and settled Florida, New Mexico, and southern California.
Dutch and English tended to stay on the eastern seaboard,
where they capitalized on the bounty of the sea and engaged in foreign
trade. The French explored the east, then struck out for the interior
with the Indians and settled in pockets both north and south. Swedish
and later Norwegians went to the midwestern prairies and to the north
central timberlands which closely resembled Scandinavia.
The Germans liked the midwest, but also were drawn
to the hills of Pennsylvania, as were the Scotch-Irish.
Blacks were imported to the south, where they became
the mainstay of an agrarian economy.
The Scotch-Irish, an exception, settled in the deep
south backwoods as far away from the Englishmen as they could get.
For the first 200 years of colonization, growth was
small. In 1680 the population was about 200,000; in 1776 it still
was only about 2,000,000. Yet by Revolutionary times, when an immigrant
stepped off the boat he no longer encountered the same hardships as
the early settlers. He found small towns and large cities, judicial
and educational systems, churches and businesses, books and newspapers,
comfortable homes, and enough of his native countrymen to feel kinship.
During the American and French Revolutionary Wars,
immigration was scant. No more than 10,000 people a year came to America.
With the end of the war of 1812 and Napoleonic Wars, however, normal
travel once again became possible.
All postwar economic conditions in Europe generated
an even greater exodus than peace time periods. The years from 1820
to 1870 marked the first modern wave of immigration. In all nearly
7.4 million people entered America during this period - the rate slackening
only during the civil war. They came predominantly from Great Britain,
Ireland, Scandinavia and Germany, but also for the first time from
the Orient. Over 100,000 Chinese settled on the west coast to work
on the railroads and in the mines. There were also 112,000 known immigrants
In 1862 congress passed the Homestead Act to encourage
people to settle west of the Mississippi river. The act provided that
a man could earn title to 160 acres simply by living on them and cultivating
them for five years. The depression of 1870 limited immigration again
for a short time, but with the first sign of recovery the numbers
began to climb once more, creating a “second wave" as great as
the first. It is difficult to assess all the factors that caused people
to emigrate to America. Travel books provided personal experiences
written by wealthy, educated travelers and were generally truthful
sources of information, as were formal guidebooks, but these were
not widely distributed among the poorer classes.
Landing was always chaotic. Before 1847, boardinghouse
runners, tavern keepers and peddlers were allowed on board to make
bargains directly with the confused newcomers. In 1855 the New York
State Immigration Commission was created to regulate landing procedures
and licensing of concessionaires. Also in that year the first formal
receiving station was put into operation. Castle Garden operated as
the receiving station in New York for thirty-five years.
Construction of Ellis Island begun in 1890. The new
immigration receiving station on Ellis island was opened in 1892 and
consisted of twelve buildings, including a large two-story main processing
building built of pine and galvanized iron, a separate group of four
hospital buildings, surgeon's quarters, record storage office, restaurant
and kitchen building, detention building, disinfecting house, boiler
house, and tank and coal house. In the meantime Castle Garden was
closed during this construction period and immigration processing
was moved a short distance up the battery to the barge office. Originally
this barge office was used by the customs bureau for inspection of
first and second class passengers. The barge office was a cramped
space hardly adequate for the processing of large numbers of steerage
passengers. Nevertheless nearly 525,000 immigrants, eighty percent
of the national total, passed through the barge office in the two
year interval between the closing of Castle Garden and the opening
of Ellis Island.
In the 1950's Ellis Island gradually quieted down.
With rarely more than a few hundred detains on the island at any time,
it was considered too costly to operate and was closed to immigration
processing. The administrative offices of immigration and naturalization
were moved to a government office in Manhattan on November 29, 1954.
Ellis Island is once again opened for all to see,
but renovation of many buildings will take many years to complete.
It is a monument to all the immigrants who came to America to make
a new life for themselves and their children.
Early Ports of Entry
The first settlement in modern day America was St. Augustine,
Florida. Here a colony was established by the Spanish. However it was
not considered a port of entry of immigrants. Next was the establishment
of the Jamestown colony in colonial Virginia. At about the same time the
colony on Roanoke island was established but did not flourish. It became
known as the lost colony.
In the Plymouth colony of Massachusetts, the Mayflower,
then the Ark and Dove, were early ship arrivals with immigrants to
this new country. A point to remember is that these new arrivals were
involved with staying alive and maintaining body and soul and not
involved in keeping records. As time went on, records started to be
kept and these are the ones we are searching for when trying to locate
our immigrant ancestor or ancestors.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was the principal port
of entry into the colonies in the early 1700s bringing many Germans
from Germany via England. These Germans were accompanied by both English
and Irish immigrants.
New York received a small share of the immigrants
in the colonial period, mainly Dutch (Holland), some French and some
>Baltimore, Maryland in its beginning received many
immigrants from England, France, Germany and the Poles of later times
Boston Massachusetts received many English, Irish
and Scotch immigrants.
Wilmington, North Carolina received many English
and Scotc-Irish and settled North and South Carolina.
Savannah, Georgia received many English prisoners,
when England cleaned out her prisons.
The port of New York is a difficult place to research.
But if your ancestor came thru New York and its several immigration
centers in the 1900s, then your search will not be difficult because
most of the immigration or passenger lists have been indexed and many
have been soundexed for your easier use.
The passenger lists for New York between 1850s and
1890s have not been indexed nor soundexed. This is where you need
to know the month and year that your ancestors came into New York
plus the name of the ship if that is possible.
The Ellis Island foundation is now in the process
of indexing and establishing a computer base for all the immigrants
who came thru Ellis Island - some 15 million plus immigrants from
many, many foreign countries.
Knowing the time period that your ancestors arrived
in America is very important in searching passenger ship lists. The
later the better. But it can be done if one has the time and knowledge
to continue in passenger lists research.
Passenger lists are a means of determining when your
ancestors came to this country and in some cases, include the name
of their native countries. As you can imagine, for a nation with the
massive longterm flow of immigration of the United States, these lists
are far from complete. If the name of the port of entry and the approximate
date of arrival are known, together with the name of the ship and
the immigrant ancestor’s name as it was spelled when he departed Europe,
one may consult the passenger arrival lists for other genealogical
The three types of ships passenger arrival lists
of prime genealogical value are 1) Custom Passenger lists, 2) Customs
Lists of Aliens, 3) Immigration Passenger Lists.
The passenger lists for ships arriving at the Port
of New York have been indexed for the years 1820 to 1846 and 1897
to 1943. The lists are available for checking on microfilm. The National
Archives has the Customs Passenger Lists for New Orleans for the years
1820-1902 and the Immigration Passenger Lists for 1903-1945. Their
index includes the years 1853-1952.
The National Archives has a passenger arrival listing
for ninety-five Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico Ports. Some of the lists
date back to 1798. But most of them are for the years 1820 to 1945.
There are many gaps where whole decades are missing from some of these
lists, and many lists do not have complete information concerning
passengers. Names are illegible, occupations are omitted, and so on,
but they remain a major source for family historians looking for immigrant
ancestors. The original lists were prepared on board ship by the Captain
of the vessel and filed later with the Collector of Customs when the
ship reached port. You will find the following information on these
documented passenger lists:
Name of the Vessel
Master of Vessel
Port of Embarkation
Date of Sailing
Arriving at Port of Date of Arrival
Name of Passenger
Name of Country or Countries from which he came.
If a person died enroute, the date and circumstances
were also recorded.
The early transatlantic steamship companies prepared
manifests in a very slipshod manner. Each manifest was supposed to
record names of thirty immigrants and answer the questions stated
on the manifest. Since each manifest had to be notarized, steamship
representatives would squeeze ten to twenty extra names onto a page
to save money on notary fees. A manifest that had many omissions or
incorrect information wreaked havoc on the inspection line inside
the registry hall at Ellis Island. Inspectors would have to question
immigrants at length to get the information needed. Since anywhere
between two thousand and five thousand immigrants were being inspected
each day, it was essential, in order to keep the lines moving, that
manifests be in proper order. A ten dollar fine was imposed on the
steamship companies for each name not properly listed. This improved
the manifests greatly and aided the registry clerks with their long
and tedious job.
Fewer than one percent of passenger records from
1790 to 1820 survived. A bibliography of early passenger lists can
be found in Harold Lancer’s “Passenger Lists of Ships Coming to America
1538-1825. From 1820 to 1919 the National Archives has many, if incomplete,
ships passenger lists.
Most passenger records dating after 1919 are located
at the Department of Immigration and Naturalization. The National
Archives will search their passenger lists indexes for you if you
can give them the passengers full name, name of port of arrival, approximate
date of arrival and the name of the vessel, if known.
In order to receive information from the National
Archives, one must obtain a Ship Passenger Arrival Records form by
writing to this address:
Reference Service Branch (NNIR) National Archives
And Records Administration 7th and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. Washington,
When you receive these forms, fill them out completely
with the information you already have on hand. Send in the form -
one for each passenger - to the address on the form. Do not send any
money. If the passenger is located in their lists they will notify
you of the find and let you know how much it costs for a copy of the
manifest. One word of information - when a notice is received from
the Archives Copy all the Information on that Notice !!!this
is for your own benefit in case the information is lost enroute from
Washington to Georgia, where the manifests are stored. There is no
charge for the search, however for each list reproduced there is a
fee. No payment is to be mailed with the form. A part of the form
will be returned to the sender and will serve as a bill when the order
has been filled.
For more information on passenger arrival lists see,
Guide To Genealogical Records In The National Archives by Meredith
8, Colket, Jr. and Frank E, Bridgere; Washington, 1964.
Since the bulk of the immigration occurred in the
latter half of the nineteenth century and the early part of the twentieth,
the researcher will frequently find need for the type of information
included in the Morton Allan Directory Of European Passenger Steamship
The Morton Allan Directory European Passenger Steam
Ship Arrivals are for the years of 1890 to 1930 at the port of New
York and for the years 1904 to 1926 at the ports of New York, Philadelphia,
Boston, and Baltimore.
The ship's arrival dates are presented in chronological
order. It is arranged by year and steamship company, port of entry,
the name of the vessel, its arrival date and the port of embarkation.
The volume, originally published in 1931 has been
reprinted by the Genealogical Publishing Co. Inc., 11 Water Street,
Baltimore, Maryland, 21202.
Other Immigration Records - At the LDS Family History
Library and Centers
1. Utah Immigration Card Index 1847-1868
2. European Emigration Card Index 1849-1925.
3. Emigration Register of the British Mission 1849-1885,
4. Emigration Register of Continental Europe 1852-1886,
5. Perpetual Emigration Fund Company, 1850-1877.
Passenger Lists Of The Port
of Hamburg, Germany
Your ancestor may have left Europe from the German
ports of Bremen or Hamburg. The passenger lists for the port of Bremen
were destroyed in a bombing raid during World War II but the Hamburg
lists survive. The Hamburg lists are readily accessible to genealogists.
These lists are divided into a "direct"
and "indirect” series; the former contains the names of persons
leaving for North America from Hamburg on ships having no intermediate
stops at other European ports. The latter contains the names of persons
leaving on ships with intermediate ports of call. The direct series
begins in 1850, the indirect begins in 1855.
Both series contain passenger lists arranged chronologically
by ship departure date. For some years the emigrants are listed in
alphabetical order by surname within the year. For the years, 1855
on they are indexed alphabetically approximately by year and by initial
letter of surname only.
By checking the Hamburg passenger lists the researcher
will find the place of origin of an immigrant ancestor. The information
included in the lists: surnames, age, last place of residence, address,
city, occupation and sometimes the destination of the immigrant. Also
the name of the vessel, captain's name, departure date and members
of his/her family who traveled along.\
The Hamburg Passenger Lists have been microfilmed and
are available at the Family History Library, Salt Lake City or they can
be sent out to branch libraries with microfilm reading facilities. The
years 1850-1934 are covered on 361 rolls of microfilm, of which there
are 105 rolls with indexes to the regular emigrant lists. Because
of WW1 there are no lists from 1914 -1918.
In 1969 members of the Church of Jesus Christ of
Lathers-Day Saints (LDS) began work on indexing the direct Hamburg
Passenger Lists for the years, 1856-1871. This project was discontinued
before its completion and the find-shed cards were sent to the Family
History Library in Salt Lake City. A microfilm copy of these cards
was made and may be consulted for research purposes.
Some readers may have found a framed certificate
of Naturalization in their home. This document was awarded to those
who completed the process to become a citizen of the United States
- from the filing of the Declaration of Intention and/or the Petition
of Naturalization to the oath of allegiance and the Certificate of
Naturalization. The latter contains the least significant genealogical
data of all the papers involved.
The "First Papers", or the Declaration
of Intent or Petition, contains the most important information. They
may have been filed five years or more before the final papers were
granted. And many completed the first steps but did not follow through
and gain citizenship.
The records of naturalization created before 1906
are not as helpful to genealogists as those completed after that date.
At best, one can hope to find the name of the ancestor (and the original
spelling), the date and port of arrival, and the country of origin.
Remember before 1918 the country of origin may be Russia, Austria
or Germany. After 1906, the Declaration of Intention asked for the
applicant’s occupation, personal description, birthplace, birth date,
port of embarkation, vessel, last foreign residence, arrival date
in the U.S. and port.
A United States Department of Justice, "Application
for Verification of Information from Immigration and Naturalization
Service Record", is to be used when requesting data from papers
Records of naturalization filed before September
27, 1906 are maintained by the court in which the person was naturalized.
Copies or extraction may be supplied upon request. Read the instructions
on the form carefully before submitting an application.