This week I was reviewing ancestor immigration records and found that the recent issue of Internet Genealogy contained a great article about ship records “Our Ancestors at Sea” by Sue Lisk. In addition to the many of the databases we are all familiar, she included one that I had not used before: Gjenvick-Gjønvik Archives. This database is a treasure-trove of ephemera and includes first-hand accounts and information about immigration and ships. Let’s look.
According to the site, Gjenvick- Gjønvik Archives is “Your Trusted Resource for Immigration, Military, and Ocean Travel, as well as Fashions and the Epicurean Life Style of past eras.” I must warn you that you’ll spend way too much time on this site, delving into fashions, food and other tidbits of information available. Today we’ll focus on the immigration/ship records.
According to the article and after exploring the site, the things you typically don’t see on other ship passenger lists are examples of items such as an actual contract for sailing on a ship, lists of types of food to bring for the journey, a list of strict rules for the voyage as well as some pamphlets and brochures from the common shipping lines. This is the type of information that you can use to better understand what your ancestor’s experience traveling across the ocean was like. While you may not find your ancestor’s ship or passenger list, you will find information around the same timeframe will be useful.
Overall, the navigation is straightforward. On the left side of the main page is a listing of the key categories: Immigration Articles, Ocean Travel, Military Archives, Epicurean, Vintage Fashion, Library, Other Archival Collections and Bangor Punta Archives.
Taking a deeper look into the Immigration Articles, you can find information about Castle Garden, Ellis Island, Immigration to Canada, and Steerage. Here’s a link to an article written in 1888 talking about the conditions for steerage passengers. It was written by a journalist pretending to be an immigrant to better understand the experience. There are others as well.
You may also want to look through this summary page that is focused on helping genealogists navigate through their extensive data. Whatever way you choose to search, you’ll find interesting articles and information.
While many of us are familiar with the ship lists on Ancestry.com, NorwayHeritage.com, TheShipsList.com and The OliveTree Genealogy, I thought you might enjoy exploring this site which offers a different perspective and as you read through articles. You’ll find inspiration on how you’d like to approach writing your own ancestor’s immigration story. Happy reading and then get busy writing!
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With a lifelong passion for genealogy and history, the author enjoys the opportunity to share genealogy tidbits, inspiring others to research and write their family story.