Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Scottish Emigration Database at the University of Aberdeen

TSS Cameronia postcard, 1935. Image by Marxchivist from USA on Flickr

The Scottish Emigration Database was funded by the AHRB and was part of the University of Aberdeen AHRC Centre for Irish and Scottish Studies. The database includes all passengers who left Glasgow and Greenock for non-European ports in the first four months in 1923 and passengers for various other sailings from all ports between 1860 and 1960. I've had a link to this site on the blog for several months, but I've never tried it out - until this weekend.

The instructions are clear and there are lots of details about what can be searched for as well as what the abbreviations in the results mean. The search dialogue box is easy to use - just fill in as many boxes as you like. Remember, that the more boxes you fill in the fewer the results. A sample search in included to show you exactly what is available in the database and how to interpret the results. I think that the ability to search for many parameters like name, occupation, village of origin is useful since Scots all seem to have the same name. Okay, I exaggerate, but it certainly seemed that way while doing my dissertation research.

A useful tip provided in the instructions was to do the search on their page which records departures from Scotland and then check the arrivals at the Ellis Island database to see what other details you can learn about your ancestor from the American arrival records. However, they don't point out that there were other points of arrival in the United Sates, like Boston, Philadelphia and New Orleans. The Aberdeen site also allows you to submit further details about emigrants if you have them, thus providing other family historians and scholars a fuller picture of the Scottish Diaspora. Simply click on  'Your Input."

Unfortunately, I only had one group of names to test - my grandfather's family, the Hoods, who went to America beginning in 1911. I searched for David Hood with no luck; so tried just Hood and 15 results were returned, none of whom were related to me. Next, I went to the Ellis Island to see what I could find and I found my great-uncles Archibald, David and Andrew. I did not expect to find my grandfather, his other siblings or his parents in this database as they landed at Boston. Funnily, my first search returned no David Hoods, so I tried D. Hood - nothing; then simply Hood. A couple of hundred Hoods are included in this Ellis Island Database and when I got to the Ds there were three or four David Hoods. Databases are so weird sometimes!

You can search for vessels on The Scottish Emigration Database too. While I didn't find any of my relatives in this database, I did find one of the ships, the Cameronia, that my Uncle Andrew boarded in 1922 at age 18. On the ship's page is a picture of it, if available, and further details of the vessel either provided by the passenger list or by Lloyd's Register of Shipping.

You can also search New York Passenger Lists (1820-1957) and other passenger lists at Ancestry.com, but this is a paid service (unless you can access it at your local library). Registration at the Ellis Island database is required, but free. The Scottish Emigration Database is free to use as well.

Happy Searching!

1 comment:

Direcleit said...

Hi Amanda, here's a link to a piece from my blog that includes a couple more sites that might also be useful (apologies if you've mentioned them previously on here!):

http://direcleit.blogspot.com/2010/05/highland-and-island-emigration-society.html

Peter

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