WANDERINGS FROM YOUR PRESIDENT
BY GAYLE STUART
RESEARCH: What I’m doing, when I don’t know what I’m doing.
Do you ever find yourself staring at the computer screen, a book or a piece of paper and wonder why it is in front of you? There are times when we are searching and trying so hard to find something, but when it does not happen we can become discouraged with our project.
When you decide that you are going to do some research, what are some of the things you are looking for? Do you have obituaries on everyone, birth records, death certificates, write-ups on weddings and anniversaries, church records, censuses, wills, probate records and passenger lists, to name a few? I try to keep a running list of what needs to be found, so that when I have some time, I’m ready to do some searching without having to dig through everything.
In this newsletter we are going to focus on immigration. I realize that a large number of people came through Ellis Island, but this was not an entry point until 1892. Ancestry.com has some of the other ports of entry online. This site is one that has to be paid for if you want it at home. Your local library may have a subscription to it. At the Walnut Library, the Walnut Genealogy Society pays for Ancestry and Heritage Quest. (Heritage Quest is mostly for looking at census records, at this time.) Remember that the 1900 census is the 1st one that will give a year of immigration.
Two free websites are: www.castlegarden.org/ and www.ellisisland.org/. Do you have obituaries on everyone, birth records, death certificates, write-ups on weddings and anniversaries, church records, censuses, wills, probate records and passenger lists, to name a few? I try to keep a running list of what needs to be found, so that when I have some time, I’m ready to do some searching without digging through everything.
Before people could emigrate from certain countries, they had to apply to leave. Some of the applications are referred to as “police records”. This does not mean they were in trouble with the law, but it was a place of registration. In Danish records, you quite often find where they lived in their homeland, which you need if you want to look for church records.
It may sound very simple to find someone on a passenger list, but some of your information that has been passed down through your family may not be correct. Or they may have said they came through New York, so then you need to know what year they came so you start looking in the right place. Remember also, that when people’s names were written, they may not be spelled how you know them. The authorities making the lists wrote names as they heard them.
If they came into Canada, it could be a different story. Coming from the British Isles, they considered it like going to the next county. They are now starting to find and compile records for Canada.
I hope that if you have not found your families’ immigrants on a ship’s list, some of the information in this newsletter may help. I still have some of my own to find. If anyone has questions just contact us at the Walnut Public Library. Our e-mail is on the newsletter and we do check that at least once a week.