Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Immigrant Ancestor's Project from Brigham Young University

The Immigrant Ancestor's Project is currently focusing on Ireland, England, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain*

This project from BYU could prove to be very useful for genealogists and immigration historians. From the website:

The Immigrant Ancestors Project, sponsored by the Center for Family History and Genealogy at Brigham Young University, uses emigration registers to locate information about the birthplaces of immigrants in their native countries, which is not found in the port registers and naturalization documents in the destination countries. Volunteers working with scholars and researchers at Brigham Young University are creating a database of millions of immigrants based on these emigration registers.

The records types being abstracted, listed here, run from 1821-1924.   I searched for "Scotland" and 1700 results were returned. That is infinitesimally small compared to the numbers who left Scotland during the century beginning 1821. But still it's a start. By comparison, over 3700 results were returned for "Germany."  I clicked on some of the emigrants and found results returned from three collections:
  • Colonial Office Records: Australia. Registers of forms and circulars sent to intending emigrants 1831-1833 
  • Examination of Invalid Soldiers
  • East India College Writers Petitions
The Examinations for Invalid Soldiers, from the early 1850s, are really great because they include name, rank, regiment, age, foreign service, surgeon's report, trade, height, eye color, complexion and residence.

For the genealogist or family historian this site and the abstracts will be a gold mine, especially because it includes documents from much of Europe, not just Scotland. It might not be so useful for immigration historians in their role as researcher as there does not seem to be a way to search by document or to export the abstracted information in a table. However, in a historian' s role as teacher, the site might be useful for creating exercises for students.  Projects for students I can think of include comparing emigrants during a particular decade from different countries of Europe, comparing the documents themselves and what they say about government control and the movement of populations, or maybe even selecting a few emigrants and following their paper trail in the old and new worlds.

Happy Searching!

*This is just me being picky: Obviously, for Germany and Italy they mean (or I hope they mean) the collection of city-states that now make-up the modern nation-states. Portugal is outlined and it is not the same thing as Spain, so I'm not sure what's going on there.  Also, I wonder if when they say "England" they really mean the United Kingdom since that entire nation-state is outlined. That's a common, but unfortunate mistake. Many years ago Yahoo! News referred to Tony Blair as the Prime Minister of England. That's a bit like saying Barack Obama is the President of California. See the map and text on the BYU site here.

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