Gale’s Passenger and Immigration Lists Index: A Must-Have Source on Immigrant History

| By Tara Atterberry | John Harrower, a Scottish businessman, was forced to leave his home and family in December 1773 in search of a more stable means of employment. He traveled across Europe for more than six weeks but was not able to secure employment and was desperate for work. As a last resort, … Read more

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

| 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, … Read more

World Refugee Day – June 20th

Posted on June 2, 2016

By Debra Kirby

Since ancient times refugees have fled their homes and countries because of war, famine, natural disaster, and religious and racial persecution and genocide, often risking their lives and the lives of their children in search of safe haven. The current Syrian refugee crisis is only the latest in a string of similar tragic human events that has occurred in every corner of the world.

In the aftermath of World War II in response to the atrocities committed during that conflict, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was issued by the United Nations, which recognized the right of persecuted people to seek asylum in other countries. The United Nations also established the IUN International Refugees Organization (IRO), which provided assistance to some 1.5 million European and Asian World War II refugees. Though it was disbanded in 1951, it was replaced by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which continues to provide such assistance and which established the first World Refugee Day on June 20, 2001 – now an annual event observed by more than 100 countries throughout the world.

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Genealogy Tips to Handle the Pitfalls of Passenger Records

Genealogy Public Library Resources

By Michael Tepper

Researchers often run into problems when they are on the trail of an immigrant ancestor. The most common misconception about passenger lists is the belief that people had their names changed when they got to Ellis Island. In fact, immigrants did not change their names unless they applied for a change of name by deed poll at a courthouse or when they were naturalized. During processing at Ellis Island, officials had the actual ships’ manifests in front of them. They called each immigrant by name, according to the manifests, and often put a check next to the name after it had been called. So the passenger records are an exact reflection of the immigrants’ identities before they crossed the Atlantic, not after.

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