Since the North American Passenger Arrival Lists are scanned and indexed, you would think you would find your ancestors. These are on www.ancestry.com with some on other sites, such as www.ellisisland.org The point is, if you are like me, your still asking the question, “Which Mary Kelly is mine?” What a nightmare, because Mary Kelly’s are everywhere.
It’s important to remember, that unless a family came intact to North America, or has an unusual last name, then you may never know which Mary Kelly is yours! Frankly, as a professional genealogist, sometimes the passenger’s arrival lists are about the last source I consult.
The lists I am talking about are a nineteenth century creation. Ports kept records of ships and passengers arriving. Do not be mistaken, they are not always complete. The port of Baltimore is a well-documented example.
If I could offer a few helpful hints to this source, it would be the following:
- The date of arrival as listed on a US citizenship paper may not be correct.
- Many people came to Canada first, then boarded another ship to America.
- Don’t expect ages in the lists to match exactly your ancestor’s age. Seriously, many Irish didn’t know how old they were anyway.
My advice on passenger’s lists is to keep them in perspective. Don’t expect too much when you are looking for my symbolic Mary Kelly. However, also do not close off the possibility you may actually find her. This is all part of typical Irish family research.
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