This is a weblog about genealogy in and about the State of Ohio. It will feature news and views (mostly mine) about developments of interest to genealogists doing research in Ohio, no matter where they reside.--Wally Huskonen

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Ancestry Makes Passenger Arrival Info Available

This is not really breaking news, but I did want to post an item about it.

The Internet genealogy service Ancestry.com has put more than 100 million passenger arrival records online from that period in a searchable database on its Web site. The database was launched in December.

With this addition to Ancestry's online database offerings, you can go online to see the original document that records an immigrant ancestor's arrival so long as they sailed to America between 1820 and 1960.

‘‘This is the largest online collection of passenger lists that will ever be assembled for the United States,’’ boasted Mike Ward, a genealogist with Ancestry.com, to a reporter from the Associated Press.

More than 41 million people immigrated to America during the 140-year period, most of them during the 50 years between 1880 and 1930.

Ancestry.com estimates that approximately 85 percent of the current U.S. population has at least one relative in the database.

Some examples reported by the AP:

Hillary Clinton’s grandfather Hugh Rodham appears on a list of passengers who arrived in New York aboard the S.S. Alaska in October 1881. At the age of two, he sailed in steerage from Liverpool, England with his mother Bella and seven siblings to join his father Jonathan, who had already settled in Scranton, Pa.

Martha Stewart’s grandfather Franz Kostyra arrived from Poland in 1905. The progenitor of America’s most famous home craftswoman listed his occupation as ‘‘basketmaker.’’ The original records existed thanks to a law passed by Congress in 1819 that required all ships docking in U.S. ports to file a list of passengers on board.

The lists often include information about each passenger’s date and place of birth, profession and other personal data.

‘‘It is certainly the most emotionally powerful collection that we’ve put online,’’ said Ancestry.com CEO Tim Sullivan.