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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Remove Confusion Around “Removes”

Family Tree Genealogy Connect

By Michael Tepper

What if your Aunt Rose walks up to you and says, “I understand you’re into genealogy, so explain to me in plain English the difference between second cousins and first cousins twice removed.” Could you do it? If you cannot, if you’re a little confused about the “removes,” consider the following excerpt from Jackie Smith Arnold’s little book, Kinship:It’s All Relative.

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