Ellis Island Immigration Records
July 14, 2003 11:12 AM   Subscribe

Got roots? The American Family Immigration History Center has made available online the passenger manifests for all the ships that docked at Ellis Island from 1892 to 1924. It's searchable by name, and you can look at a photostat of the actual page of the manifest. I found my great-uncle (Demetrios Calisperis, from Samos, Greece, debarked Ellis Island Nov 1907, at age 11 -- hiya, Uncle Jim!). Free to register and search. Paid membership lets you build a family scrapbook about your ancestor that can be searched by other researchers.
posted by BitterOldPunk (9 comments total)
Earlier discussion.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 11:17 AM on July 14, 2003

Tood bad my only ancestors came over earlier, during The Hunger, driven off the old sod by the hated British.
posted by dcodea at 12:34 PM on July 14, 2003

I wish there was something 1800 - 1850 or so. I figure that's when a few of my ancestors arrived in the US. I've tried searching in many places. One of the biggest problems is changes in name spelling.
posted by Akuinnen at 12:45 PM on July 14, 2003

Too bad my ancestors came over earlier driven off the old steppes by the ice age and following the wandering mammoths. At least I can see some of their passenger manifests here and here.

(Actually most of my ancestors were driven off the old soil by the English too and sailed over, but I thought I'd be "clever")
posted by Pollomacho at 1:01 PM on July 14, 2003

Too bad my American forebearers all snuck into the U.S. with forged visas at the end of World War II. (Remember, Wittler is spelled with 2 Ts and no H).
posted by wendell at 1:18 PM on July 14, 2003

Pretty cool-- my ancestors came way before those dates, but I was able to locate some of them on a ship's manifest coming in from France. I guess they were travelling to Europe back in 1892! Interesting stuff, thanks for the link.
posted by cell divide at 2:10 PM on July 14, 2003

Yeah, the EIDB rocks, but finding ancestors through their clunky search mechanism can be a pain sometimes. For those of you with Jewish ancestors, the indispensible JewishGen.org hosts a super-duper search interface to the EIDB that truly rocks. You can search for everyone from a certain town without needing to search by last name. The big benefit there is that you can see a list of everyone who came over from your great-grandmother's shtetl. Just make sure you search on all the alternate spellings and misspellings for that shtetl, as well as any alternate names it might have held through the years. (Example from my own great-grandmother: Kolomea, Kolomyya, and Kolomyja are all the same town, depending on the year, so I search on each.)

You can also search by sound-alike last names and/or sound-alike first names. You can search by last initial and/or ship name. You can search by arrival date. Or any combination thereof.

The only requirement? Your ancestor has to have had the ethnicity "Hebrew" (as opposed to, say, "Russian") listed on their passenger manifest, and therefore in the EIDB datafiles. Everyone else should use this search interface, which still improves upon the EIDB, but which isn't quite as snazzy. (Sorry.)

FYI, if you're not quite sure where your ancestor's shtetl or city was, or what the modern-day or alternate names might be, JewishGen's ShtetlSeeker, which hooks into MapQuest, is your friend.

And if you want to find out if there are any Jewish vital records back in that shtetl, this database of surviving Polish/Ukrainian/Moldovan Jewish vital records holdings is the way to go. I always figured that I'd never be able to find any records from the Old Country at all, and that I'd have to rely on US Census and Social Security records, but to my surprise, some places (like the aforementioned Kolomyya) have records in the Old Country going back to 1865, or in some places in Poland, the late 18th Century. And yes, you can order copies: some are online at JRI-Poland, through which you can order vital records copies from the Warsaw archives.

God, I love the Internet.
posted by Asparagirl at 3:29 PM on July 14, 2003

Saw this site some time ago.

I'd been into my geneaology as a kid, had interviewed maternal grandpa, who'd come from Sweden.

Many years later, I was surprised the records showed he'd come a year later than what he'd said. His mind was always sharp. But evidently you lose a few details in 60 years, even concerning when you departed the old country forever.

It was not only thrilling to look at the passenger manifest but to see a history of and photo of the ship he'd taken.

Rest of my ancestors came via Canada and/or before that date. But I'm fortunate to have assembled more family stories than many people have.
posted by NorthernLite at 9:06 PM on July 14, 2003

Double post aside, I found my father and grandparents back on the day this opened--after being trampled in the stampede. The result: I know my father's birth name--Wladyslaw instead of Walter--plus the the ships on which and the village from where they came. But nothing more than that. Still, I was quite jazzed at the time.
posted by y2karl at 10:15 AM on July 15, 2003

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