70 Years of Historic Canadian Immigration Records Now Online

Ancestry.ca logo.bmpThe following press release went out yesterday from Ancestry.ca, announcing a new collection of Canadian Passenger Lists, 1865-1935. These lists include passengers arriving in Canada, via ship and also overland from the U.S.

Ancestry.ca launches Canadian Passenger Lists, 1865-1935 – one in three Canadians descended from immigrants listed in this collection

  • The official records of immigration to Canada by ship and overland from the US – indexed and fully searchable online for the first time
  • Detailed records for all major Canadian ports
  • Tommy Douglas, Lord Stanley, Winston Churchill and Charlie Chaplin among many famous names to appear.

In a world first, Ancestry.ca, Canada’s leading family history website, today launched online the Canadian Passenger Lists, 1865-1935, which contains more than 7.2 million names, including 5.6 million of those who travelled from around the world to start a new life in Canada.

The collection is fully indexed by name, month, year, ship and port of origin and arrival of more than 4,000 ships, and includes original images for more than 310,000 pages of historical records. It is the first time that these records have been indexed and made available online.

The Canadian Passenger Lists, 1865-1935, the originals of which are held by the Library and Archives Canada (LAC), are the official records of the arrival of the majority of people accepted as immigrants in Canada during this key immigration period.

An estimated 11.6 million Canadians or 37 per cent of its current population have ancestors included in this collection , which also includes records for many vacationers and travellers, business people, crew members and historical figures such as foreign leaders, scientists and celebrities.

The collection includes passenger lists from all the major ports of arrival including Halifax, Saint John, North Sydney, Quebec City, Montreal, Vancouver, Victoria and even east coast ports in the US where many arrived before proceeding directly to Canada overland.

The main immigrant nationalities arriving in Canada during this period of rapid growth were British, Irish, Ukrainian, Russian, German, Chinese and Polish (the majority of French immigrants, the second largest Canadian immigrant population, arrived prior to 1865). Continue reading

Weekly Planner: Slow Down, Transcribe a Document

With the ability to click and add a record to my Ancestry tree, sometimes I find that I’m not examining the record closely enough. I make it a point to transcribe the records I find, either onto a blank form (e.g., the census) or into my word processor. By slowing down to manually transcribe the document, it makes me examine each piece of information, and I often find a clue that would have otherwise been overlooked. Try it!

The World Archives Project at Ancestry, by Juliana Smith

World Archives.bmpA little over ten years ago, I had a baby in diapers, a part-time job with a fledgling Internet company called Ancestry.com, and I had volunteered to edit the newsletter of the Chicago Genealogical Society. When a full-time job opened up at Ancestry for editor of the company’s e-zine, The Ancestry Daily News, it was my volunteer experience editing the CGS newsletter that helped me get the job.

The experience also gave me a profound respect for the work that genealogical societies do for the community. Always on the forefront of records preservation, so many records would be lost forever if it weren’t for societies taking steps to preserve them through publications, periodicals, and more recently, online databases.

Unfortunately, despite the valiant efforts of societies, government agencies, the Family History Library, and the work now being done by commercial entities, the number of records still deteriorating in their original form is staggering. Last year the New York Times estimated that at the March 2007 rate of digitization, it would take 1,800 years to digitize the estimated 9 billion text records in the National Archives. 

And that’s just the records of the National Archives! Think of all of the records in local municipalities across the U.S. and around the world, waiting to be digitized. And I thought I had a big job scanning family photographs and documents!

The World Archives Project
Fortunately, government agencies are finding hope in partnering with experienced commercial entities. In May of 2008, The Generations Network signed an agreement with the National Archives that will help speed up the digitization of some of the records mentioned in that New York Times article.

With scanners already onsite at NARA, Ancestry is now looking to harness the power of volunteers to create indexes through its new initiative, the World Archives Project.

The indexes created through the World Archives Project will be free to everyone. Images will remain behind the paid subscription wall to cover the costs of digitization, but active contributors to the project who key 900 records or more per quarter will have access to all of the images that are part of the World Archives Project–not just those that they have helped index. In addition to that, they will receive a 10 percent discount on the renewal of their Ancestry.com U.S. Deluxe membership and 15 percent on the renewal of their World Deluxe membership.

In addition, active contributors will also have a vote in what collections are indexed next. Here’s your chance to promote that collection from your ancestor’s hometown! Continue reading

My Five Favorite Ancestry Databases, by George G. Morgan

Ancestry continues to be my very favorite online genealogy website. With more than 26,000 databases, it is chock full of materials that have helped me with my research over the years. I’ve just finished the second edition of “The Official Guide to Ancestry.com” and it should be released for sale very soon. As I worked on the new edition, I kept finding new and exciting databases I’d never before seen. This was a problem for my writing schedule because I kept getting distracted by wanting to do more and more research. I do seem to turn most often to a few tried and true databases that give me the most help. I’d like to share a list of my favorites with you.

Census Databases
The most-used research materials for genealogists are census records. There are no better records for establishing the location of a family or individual than census records. The U.S. federal census population schedules from 1790 to 1930 have been a boon to my personal research. However, with ancestors and collateral family from England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, I’ve been using the England censuses (1841-1901), the Wales censuses (1841-91), the Scotland censuses (1841-1901), and various available censuses and abstracts for Ireland. More recently, I have been looking through the census records for Canada, even though I am unaware of any Canadian ancestry in my family. There is no better census collection anywhere on the Web and I find myself in these great databases at Ancestry many times each week.

World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918
America’s involvement in World War I was critical to the defeat of the Germans. The federal government called for the registration of American men for military conscription. There were three registrations and the draft registration cards were thankfully preserved. They provide a wealth of information about each registrant, including name, date of birth, current place of residence, occupation and employer, next of kin, and physical characteristics. Some but not all of this information may be available elsewhere. This is my one of my favorite databases because the information included on the card for my great-uncle, Brisco Washington Holder, helped me locate his whereabouts in 1918, thirteen years after he left his home. (Those of you who have been reading this newsletter for a while, doubtless remember my excitement when I finally located him.) Before Ancestry completed the indexing and digitization of these records, no index existed, and a trip to the NARA branch outside Atlanta, Georgia, where the original cards are held was not possible. Since I found Brisco, I have used this database many times to locate records for grandfathers, great-uncles, and many cousins. The information is invaluable. Continue reading

Tips from the Pros: The Name’s the Same, from Michael John Neill

Could couples with the same first and last names be confusing your research? My wife’s ancestors, George A. Freund (1858-1928) and his wife, Katherine Cawiezell (1855-1922), were both born and died in Scott County, Iowa. The problem is that George A. Freund had a first cousin, George K. Freund who was also born in Scott, ca. 1855, where he later died. This George K. was married to a Catherine Schilling (1856-1925). Both couples lived in Scott County, Iowa, their entire adult lives. With the similarity of the names, they can be easily confused, and researchers are known to have credited the wrong couple with the wrong children. George A. and George K. were aware of the potential confusion and used their middle initials in many records, particularly after their marriages.

The potential confusion continued. In a later generation of the Freund family, there was a George Henry Freund, born in 1888 and Henry George Freund, born in 1889. Both of these Scott County, Iowa, natives appear in the World War I Draft Card database at Ancestry.com. One has to be careful in these situations too.
If your ancestor is using a middle initial, ask yourself why. Is it to distinguish himself from someone with a similar name? Never grab the first hit or search result with the “right” name and assume you have the correct person. It always pays to search census indexes and other finding aids completely to determine if there might be more than one person with the same name. Never assume a first and last name combination is so unusual that there could not be two separate individuals with that combination. Tax and census records are a good way to locate these “duplicate” people, particularly when other records are not available.

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Your Quick Tips, 15 September 2008

U.S. Passport Application Tip
The addition of pre-1925 U.S. passport applications is a great resource available to Ancestry subscribers. I knew that my great-grandfather had traveled back to Germany for his second marriage in the early 1920s but was unable to find his passport application using the Ancestry search engine. I was even more perplexed when I finally found his name on a 1923 ship manifest that made reference to his 1923 passport. If he truly did have a U.S. passport issued in 1923, why did it not turn up in my search?
Using the U.S. passport number and date of issue listed on the ship manifest I bypassed the search engine and went directly to the roll that should contain his application. In the place of his application was a document transfer sheet indicating that my great-grandfather had applied for another passport in 1929 and the 1923 application had been filed with this later document. It seems that such records were not transcribed for inclusion in the U.S. Passport Application search engine explaining why it never turned up in my search results. Briefly viewing additional images on the roll turned up two additional document transfer sheets whose corresponding passport applications were not found in subsequent search engine results. Thus failure to find your ancestor’s passport application via the search engine does not necessarily mean one was never filed.

Jeremy Haag Continue reading

The Year Was 1821

Santa Fe Trail.jpgThe year was 1821 and Spain was losing its grip in the Americas. The Mexican War for Independence that began in 1810 came to an end in 1821. Following the Napoleonic Wars, Spain was facing huge debts and turned to its colonies in South and Central America to replenish its empty coffers. Obviously this wasn’t very popular on this side of the ocean and it led to a series of rebellions. In August of 1821, Mexico won its independence.

Simon Bolivar and his forces were also well on their way to liberating much of South America that had been under Spanish rule. In 1821, he defeated the Spanish at the Battle of Carabobo, freeing Venezuela and by the end of the year, Ecuador would be liberated as well, with Venezuela, Ecuador, and Colombia now united as the territory of Gran Colombia.

Spain’s officially relinquished its last foothold in continental North America with the ratification of the Transcontinental Treaty in 1821, which ceded Florida to the United States. 
Following the Missouri Compromise of 1820, in August of 1821, Missouri was admitted as the twenty-fourth state in the Union.

Missouri became a launching point for those traveling west. Prior to 1821, the Spanish had not allowed trade with the U.S., but with Mexican independence all of that changed. In September 1821, Captain William Becknell left Missouri for Santa Fe, New Mexico, (part of Mexico at the time) on a trading expedition along a route that would become known as the Santa Fe Trail. More traders, and eventually settlers and gold seekers would follow the trail west in the years to come. (Click on the image to enlarge it.)

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