Like most of us you’ve probably searched for your ancestors via passenger lists, hoping to find the elusive ancestor gliding into port, starting their new life in America or elsewhere. And like me you probably still have some elusive folks who refuse to be found. A recent article has me interested in pursuing these brick walls again.
Dr. Simon Wills’ article ‘Finding Your Ancestors Travelling Abroad’ in the December 2019 issue of FamilyTree Magazine. This UK issue of the magazine provides a different perspective and I thought you’d enjoy some of the highlights of the article. As always, I recommend reading magazines like this one to gain a new perspective for solving genealogy challenges. There are other articles in this issue regarding ancestors and their travel for pleasure and work. Think how that might be interesting to include in your family story.
Back to ship lists, passenger lists, immigration records. There are the usual sites references such as Ellis Island, Ancestry, Family Search, and theShiplist. In addition, unfamiliar sites might assist you in the search. These sites are free which makes it even better.
Immigration and Passenger Lists in Canada The Library and Archives of Canada provides an extensive site with context and information about searching for your immigrant ancestors, historical context and many options to wander off to research other Canadian genealogy resources. If you know your ancestor came to Canada, this is a great place to look.
If you have British Ancestors, they may have traveled to India or Australia. FIBIS or Families in British India Society is a site devoted to researching your British roots in India. While it appears that this site does have a membership fee, you can find options for searching within it that take you to free resources. Here’s a link to Fibiwiki which contains information about passenger lists.
For those with Australian immigrants, you can look at this government site. By choosing researching your family history, you can follow the links to the passenger arrival records. This appears to be a well-organized site. It appears that the passenger arrival records deal with 1924 and after. However they do have suggestions what might be available and where for earlier records.
Within the UK there are also digitized passenger lists for records between 1870 and 1960. I know that many of us would prefer records for the 1800s but for those that would benefit from this time frame, they are called the BT26 and BT27 series in the National Archives. The author noted these subscription sites to access these records: The Genealogist, FindMyPast and Ancestry. I will add a caveat here. Since the publication is for a UK audience, it could be that these records are only available on the UK version of these websites. I have not explored that further.
In addition to the sites mentioned in the article, the ship and passenger list information on these sites that may benefit you.
Olive Tree Genealogy
Bremen Passenger Lists
If you’re stuck and can’t find your ancestor’s immigration or ship records, take some time to explore these sites. You never know what you’ll find. Even if you’ve looked a few years ago, new records are being digitized every day. Good luck!
“We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.
--Martin Luther King Jr
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.