The Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild is one of the niftiest online collective efforts underway today. This group of volunteers is dedicated to the task of making the search for our ancestors’ immigration easier. The Guild is working to produce online ships’ passenger lists. Many people who are researching family trees find it difficult to leave their homes and find this information on microfilm. The Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild is transcribing the lists into online listings.
The "Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild", commonly referred to as “the ISTG," was founded by a small group of people in late September of 1998. Today, the ISTG has over 500 volunteers who work diligently to decipher and transcribe passenger lists, which are then uploaded to the ISTG website. More than one-half million names, extracted from more than 5,000 ships' passenger lists, are available today at the ISTG website. Keep in mind, however, that these half million individuals are a very small percentage of all the immigrants who arrived on America’s shores in the past 380 years. This collection will continue to grow for a long time yet.
I took a quick look at the passenger lists already transcribed. Of course, the passenger list of the Mayflower in 1620 was there, along with the Fortune that arrived in 1621. I even found the Confidence, which arrived in Salisbury, Massachusetts, carrying my immigrant ancestor, Roger Eastman (his name was spelled Easman on the ship’s manifest).
Not all the ships listed are from the early years. I found some listings as late as 1929. The following is a typical entry; this one is for the SS Olinda, which departed Gebaras, Puerto Rico, on 16 May 1910 and arrived at the port of New York on 25 May 1910:
Phelps, Mrs. Cora (written notation, mother, inserted); 36; female; married; In transit; can read/write; Citizen of Canada; Race: English; Last residence: Breston, Cuba; Nearest relative: Lawrence Phelps, husband, Breston, Cuba; Destination: Eastman, Canada; Has no ticket to final destination; Passage paid by husband; In possession of $100.00; Previously in the US in 1909 passing through New York; Friend/relative: Mrs. Mayarch Brunett, mother, Eastman, Prov, Quebec, Canada;
Never in a prison, almshouse, institution or supported by charity; Not a polygamist; Not an Anarchist; Not coming by reason of column 22; Health: Good; Not deformed or crippled; Height 5 feet 3 inches; Complexion: Blonde; Hair: Light; Eyes: Blue; No marks of identification;
Place of Birth: Canada, Eastman
Transcriber's note: "Transit" has been written over the number on the list.
As you can see, later passenger lists can provide a wealth of information about an immigrant ancestor.
You might want to check this website to see if your immigrant ancestors are listed. Perhaps you will also want to join the Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild and add your efforts to their worthwhile cause. Take a look at: http://www.immigrantships.net