Gale’s Passenger & Immigration Lists Index:  Reasons They Came

Gale’s Passenger & Immigration Lists Index: Reasons They Came

4 min read

| By Tara Atterberry |

While researching new sources of North American immigration content for the upcoming 2020 edition of Gale’s Passenger & Immigration List Index, I located ship passenger manifests that included the myriad of reasons immigrants left their homes to take a chance on building a life in the New World.

For example, more than 300 Japanese persons left from Kobe, Japan, in April 1900 and arrived in Tacoma, Washington, on the SS Goodwin. Many in this group came ‘looking for work at [their] trade,’ which varied greatly, such as: Kato Sentar, a wood engraver; Harada Jinksaku, a blacksmith; Umno Rihei, an umbrella maker; Matsuoka Ganeji, a stonemason; and Tanaka Kamitaro, a laundryman. This group also contained more than 50 students, including Takaoka Muluei and Kawata Hisakichi, who came to America specifically to ‘go to mission school’ or ‘work on a farm,’ opportunities that may not have been available in Japan.

More than 120 years earlier on the opposite side of the globe, the ship Gale sailed from Stranraer, Scotland, to New York in May of 1774, carrying Irish and Scottish immigrants. Among these, William Biggam, a farmer; David Maxwell, a tailor; and John McMikine, a joiner, who immigrated with his wife, mother-in-law, and five children, stated that they ‘hoped to do better’ in their new home. John McHaig, a farmer, and John McMaster, a housewright, came to New England for ‘want of employment,’ while James McLicking, a farmer, set his sights the highest of the group, hoping ‘to make a fortune’ in the New World.

And then there was Anne Adair, a 25-year old native of Glenluce, Ireland, who came with her father, Patrick Adair, because she ‘cannot get a husband in Ireland.’  Bless your heart, Anne Adair.

This personal information reminds us that these immigrants are not just names on a list. They had families, friends, and deep roots in their communities. They wanted a more stable, secure future. They wanted a chance to work, employ their trades, and thrive. They came for more than 400 years and still are coming today. You can feel for them on a basic human level because they were just like us. In fact, they are us.

Each of these immigrants has his or her own story, as do the more than 100,000 immigrants who will be profiled for the first time in the 2020 edition of Passenger & Immigration List Index, the 43rd supplement in this series, available in December 2019. This edition will include persons who emigrated to North America from more the 40 countries of the world, spanning from the mid-1600s through the 1940s, including persons who left Europe during and immediately following the atrocities of WWII.

Passenger & Immigration List Index entries include the name and age of immigrant; year and place of arrival: naturalization or other record which indicates person indexed is an immigrant; the source where information was obtained; and associated family members who arrived with the entrant. For the first time, this edition will include the port of departure and the name of the ship on which the person traveled to North America.

Just like solving a puzzle starts with the first puzzle piece, solving the mystery of a family’s history starts with one great source. Passenger & Immigration List Index is one of these great sources of genealogical information, compiling passenger lists and immigration content from more than 3,500 historical publications, naturalization records, government documents, ship manifests, and other historical sources. Passenger & Immigration List Index is also available in electronic format through licensing files, which provide access to all 5.2 million Passenger & Immigration List Index immigration records compiled since 1981.

Passenger & Immigration List Index is a must-have product for public and academic libraries, special libraries, research centers, and any organization that maintains historical genealogical special collections or serves a population interested in genealogy and family history research. It is the aim of Passenger & Immigration List Index to lead you to the sources that will unravel some of the mysteries surrounding this fascinating group of people, particularly as they relate to individual family histories.




Meet the Author


Tara Atterberry has been with Gale for 24 years and manages biography and genealogy content. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her two teenage daughters, who constantly remind her that she knowns nothing, herding her three cats, scrapbooking, and researching her dead ancestors.

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