Passenger Lists: Accidental Discoveries

This week I am highlighting some random things about passenger arrival records.  Today’s focus: accidental discoveries in Ancestry.com records!

Friends in the Days Before Facebook

For some ports, Ancestry.com indexes don’t just have the names of the passengers, but also the names of their friends that were already in the U.S. waiting for them.

For Philadelphia passenger lists, I found this out quite by accident.  What this means is that if you enter a name into the search field, you’ll get hits not only for manifests with immigrants of that name, but also if that person was listed as the point-of-contact for an immigrant.  This is an excellent way to find possible relatives!

For example, a search for “Emil Muller” yielded the following results:

Ancestry screen Emil

But who are those last two people?  Their names are not Emil Muller!  Both listed someone by that name as their friend in this country.  See the detail on Anna Trepke’s record under “Friend’s Name”:

Ancestry screen Emil 2

In this particular instance, Anna wound up being a sister-in-law of the Emil Muller that I was researching (based on his home address and relationship on the record).  The name was previously unknown to me before beginning the search.

I have only found this for Philadelphia passenger arrival records so far.The results were the same when I used Steve Morse’s One-Step Search for the Philadelphia arrivals.  The major difference is that Ancestry brought up the “friend” records in addition to the records for passengers with that name.  For Steve’s site, you have to enter the name as either the passenger or the friend.

Steve’s search also has the “friend” field listed for New York arrival records, but I tried various names that I know were listed as the friend on arrivals and the search (forwarded to Ancestry) did not find any of them.  I don’t believe this field is indexed as it is for Philadelphia passenger arrival records.  I have not tried any other ports, but if you find “friends” indexed in other records, please leave a comment!

Just Passing Through

Immigrants who sailed from English ports like Liverpool and Southampton may still be found in the Hamburg, Germany passenger list indexes!  Why?  Because many European immigrants first sailed from Hamburg to Great Britain to get to their ship that would take them to America.

This was another accidental find while searching for one of my surnames.  I knew my great-grandfather’s brother, Stefan Zawodny, sailed from Liverpool on 16 May 1903 and arrived in Philadelphia on 30 May.  So I was surprised to find a record in the Hamburg indexes, because I assumed they were passengers sailing from Hamburg to various ports.  I had forgotten about the indirect sailings from Hamburg to Great Britain.  In the Hamburg passenger lists I found him departing for Liverpool on 08 May!

Find more information about the Hamburg passenger lists here.  This highlights the fact that our ancestors had a very long journey to get to the United States.

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