There is a new database called The Irish Mission at Watson House. It has the potential to be a major resource. However, it has to be utilized in a “thinking outside the box” approach.
Introduction to the Watson House
In an effort to help young immigrant women arrive safe, the Irish Mission for Immigrant Girls in New York City was established. The Catholic clergy and others would work tirelessly to help over 100,000 woman. The records generated are part of the Our Lady of the Rosary, Saint Elizabeth Seton Shrine, at Watson House.
The need for such a safe house for female immigrants arose during an agricultural depression in Ireland which began in 1879. This saw more women emigrating alone. The church established the Mission of Our Lady of the Rosary for the Protection of Irish Immigrant Girls, purchasing the house in 1885, located in Manhattan at 7 State Street facing the harbor. It was intended as temporary housing until the girls could be met by family, friends or transfer to a final destination.
Using the Database
The first thing you will find when searching the Watson House records is that it is not clear cut. For example, although the records provide date, age, name and county of origin in Ireland, there’s little way know if you have the correct girl. Which Mary Kelly is yours? The solution I found was to use the destination field in the search feature. This allows you to seek all Mary Kelly girls who went, for example, to Cleveland, Ohio. If this is where your ancestor went, then this helps to narrow the field considerably.
In another approach, you can search all girls who went to Cleveland. Then use that pool of names and see if any were associated with your ancestor who settled in Cleveland. Where I see that you would have a problem is if the girl stayed in Manhattan.
These are just two of many approaches to a database such as this. So be careful not to discount databases such as this simply because they are not straightforward. You simply have to look at the information from the sidelines and then determine how to best approach the collection.
Click Here if you need help with locating your Irish immigrant ancestor.