Kinsearching June 19, 2011




Marleta Childs
P. O. Box 6825
LUBBOCK, TX 79493-6825

     In the summer, many people maintain a hectic pace as they try to accomplish as many things as possible during the vacation season. Because summer is the travel season, numerous genealogists take the opportunity to work in various research sites across the country. Although they would like to take copies of their research ideas with them, packing “light” is usually a necessity. Other researchers may spend more time on the computer as they try to trace their forebears on the internet; they need a small guide that would be handy to keep nearby as they work online. Regardless of the scenario, individuals can appreciate the ease and convenience of new items in the “Genealogy at a Glance” series.

     One of the latest is Ellis Island Research by Sharon DeBartolo Carmack. Since the records created by the immigrants are vast and complex, her concise information offers instance guidance to the millions of documents these people left behind. Divided into short sections, the material furnishes basic facts concerning the island’s history and its use as an immigration center, passenger lists, the name change myth, major databases, ideas to try when you cannot locate your ancestor, microfilmed indexes and lists, supplemental data about detainees, and additional online sources.

     Many details found in the Ellis Island records are both interesting and unique. Facts that may be found in the passenger lists, for instance, give the passenger’s last place of residence, final destination in the U. S., whether he or she planned to join a relative, the relative’s name and address, a personal description, birth place, and name and address of the closest living relative in the native country.

     In her debunking of a popular myth, Carmack points out that names of individuals were not changed at Ellis Island. Instead, their names may have been misspelled or the clerk’s handwriting may have been illegible. In addition, it was the custom in some European countries to list married women under their maiden name in legal documents. So researchers should check for all possible variants of a name.

     The compiler also discusses the Ellis Island Database, which is free, and the New York 1820-1957 Passenger Lists at, a subscription website. Using a case study as an example, Carmack describes some problems and their solutions to help utilize the databases thoroughly.

     During the peak immigration years of 1892 to 1924, more than 22 million passengers entered the United States through Ellis Island. As a result, it has been estimated that approximately forty percent of Americans living today are related to people who passed through the immigration center during its years of operation, which ranged from 1892 to 1957. Intended for heavy use, the four-page Ellis Island Research is laminated and will be useful to millions of genealogists.

     To the guide's price of $7.95, buyers should add the cost for postage and handling charges. For U. S. postal mail, the cost is $4.50 for one item and $2.50 for each additional copy; for FedEx ground service, the cost is $6.00 for one copy and $2.50 for each additional item. The guide (item order 882) may be purchased by check, money order, MasterCard, or Visa from Genealogical Publishing Company, 3600 Clipper Mill Rd., Suite 260, Baltimore, Maryland 21211-1953. For phone orders, call toll free 1-800-296-6687; fax 1-410-752-8492; website

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