immigration records

4 Apr 2014

New Sassy Jane Guide Coming in May

A new Sassy Jane Guide, Discovering Immigrant Ancestors at Castle Garden and Ellis Island, is coming next month. What did your ancestors experience as they left their homes and sailed to New York, passed through immigration inspections, and entered the country?

Using resources of the National Archives, Library of Congress, academic archives, and genealogy sources, this new Sassy Jane Guide covers the complete immigration experience of your ancestors to New York ports. Focusing on the second and third waves of immigration, from 1855 at Castle Garden to 1920 at Ellis Island, this new Sassy Jane Guide also includes an extensive section on immigration records to aid your family history research.

new sassy jane guide sassy jane genealogy

“The Immigrant: Is He an Acquisition or a Detriment?” Judge, 19 Sep 1903 (Prints and Photographs, Library of Congress LC-USZC4-3659)

The political […]

8 Mar 2014

Honoring Annie Moore of Ellis Island

honoring annie moore sassy jane genealogy

Courtesy Johns Hopkins University, Levy Sheet Music Collection

For International Women’s Day, I am honoring Annie Moore. Arriving in New York with her two younger brothers on 2 Jan 1892, the teenaged “little rosy-cheeked Irish girl” was the first person admitted at the new federal immigration station on Ellis Island.

I’ve been working on a new presentation on immigrant experiences at New York ports and find Annie Moore fascinating.

Her story is a familiar one for those genealogists (and I include myself) who are interested in the history of Ellis Island and look to her experience as a proxy for our own immigrant ancestors.

“As soon as the gangplank was run ashore, Annie tripped across it and was hurried into the big building that almost covers the entire island…. When the little voyager had been registered Col. Weber presented her with a ten-dollar gold piece and made a short address of congratulations and welcome. It was the first United States coin she had ever seen and the largest sum of money she had ever possessed. She says she will never part with it, but always keep it as a pleasant memento of the occasion,” according to the New York Times’s 1892 account.

Annie was immortalized “in song, in bronze statues in New York Harbor and in Ireland, and in the name of a bar near Grand Central Terminal.”

But what became of Annie Moore after she entered the country? Her life in America, after her initial moments of fame, also speaks to the difficulty immigrant women experienced forging new lives in an unfamiliar country. A legend persisted that Annie Moore moved to Texas, where she was killed in a streetcar accident. In fact, according to genealogist Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak, Annie Moore lived out her life in poverty in the tenements of the Lower East Side until her death in 1924. Tenant rights, housing codes, food and water purity codes, public health initiatives, schooling to increase literacy; all were desperately needed by the immigrant generation of which Moore was a part.

honoring annie moore sassy jane genealogy

Is this Annie Moore at Ellis Island? (Courtesy New York Times)


  • How Far Your Ancestors Could Travel from New York sassy jane genealogy
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    How Far Your Ancestors Could Travel from New York in One Day

22 Feb 2014

How Far Your Ancestors Could Travel from New York in One Day

Today’s post is about calculating how far your ancestors could travel from New York in one day. It’s an interesting question to genealogists whose ancestors came through the port of New York. Maps from the Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States, published in 1932, have been digitized and the data are now available by decade in the modern infographic above.

The Digital Scholarship Lab at The University of Richmond created travel time estimates using the data from the 1932 Atlas by digitizing the maps and making them available online.

In 1800, a stagecoach could only reach parts of the Northeast; Charleston, South Carolina, from Manhattan meant ten days of sailing. The maps as they appeared in the atlas are shown below.

How Far Could Your Ancestors Travel from New York in One Day sassy jane genealogy

Courtesy University of Richmond

The […]

1 Nov 2013

Updated Index to Hamburg Passenger Lists for 1850-1914

updated index to hamburg passenger lists sassy jane genealogyThe updated index to Hamburg Passenger Lists for 1850-1914 is now available at Ancestry. This is great news: previously the database only had indexed records from 1887-1914. The additional 37 years have added 800,000 new records to the index, for a total of more than 4.5 million names. All of the images in the Hamburg Passenger Lists, aka Hamburger Passagierlisten, 1850-1934, are available and indexing has started on the remaining years from 1915-1934.

The notes for this database have been updated as well. If you haven’t found your ancestors in the Hamburger Passagierlisten, 1850-1934, Ancestry recommends a “partial index, covering the years 1850-1914 (up to the start of WWI). This index is complete for the years it covers. The index was created by the Hamburg State Archive, using the original lists in their collection, as part of an ongoing project begun in 1999. The indexing project is mainly financed by the “Hauptfürsorgestelle”, an institution of the City of Hamburg that supports training programs for handicapped persons.”

If your German is rusty (or non-existent), here’s a link to my post that translates the categories used in the Hamburg Passenger Lists for passengers departing for America. In my experience, these lists are far more detailed about places of origin than the arrival lists for New York and other U.S. ports.