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April 2001


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Ruth Messick <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
A LISTSERV list for discussions pertaining to New York State history." <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 16 Apr 2001 20:55:41 -0400
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Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter

Vol. 6 No. 16 - April 16, 2001

Ellis Island Online Database

Are you looking for your ancestors' immigration
records? If they arrived at Ellis Island between
January 1892 and December 1924, you may soon be able
to find their information online. The Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons)is developing
the American Family History Immigration History Center
at the Ellis Island Immigration Museum. A grand
opening and dedication of the facility is taking place
April 17.

The LDS Church and the Ellis Island Immigration Museum
officially announced the History Center project on
Oct. 28, 1998. However, work on the project had
already been underway for five years and involved
thousands of volunteers who had to sort through
passenger records and ship manifests and enter them
into a database. Officials had hoped to make the
database available to the public late last year.
However, like many such huge projects, the original
projections slipped a bit. The online database is now
scheduled to become available at the same time as the
new center opens: April 17.

According to the Ellis Island Foundation, 12,000
volunteer LDS Church members worked on the project and
donated some 5.6 million hours to complete the 25
million entries in the extraction process. The church
also devoted 20 full-time staff members and 35
missionaries to the project. "We're very grateful to
have the expertise and generosity of the (LDS) church
and its volunteers in the development of this very
important and long-awaited family history resource,"
said Peg Zitko, director for public affairs at the
foundation. The LDS Church's help "saved us
considerable financial investment."

This new computerized database will provide automated
access to more than 22 million historic Ellis Island
passenger records. However, the digitized records will
only cover the period from January 1892 to December
1924 and will include only about 71 percent of the
passenger arrivals during that period. Plans call for
a future expansion of the project to include
additional passenger years and records.

The database contains information on aliens, U.S.
citizens, crew members, deportees and even those who
literally missed the boat. Traveler name, name of
vessel, departure, ports of arrival and dates of
arrival comprise the standard information to be
available. Age, gender, marriage status, birthdate,
place of birth and ethnicity is other information
available on some entries.

Do not confuse this new database with the "American
Immigrant Wall of Honor" database that has been
available for some time. The "American Immigrant Wall
of Honor" database is a listing of all the names
inscribed on the "American Immigrant Wall of Honor."
The Wall honors all immigrants, not just those who
processed at Ellis Island. I even found John Alden
listed in the "American Immigrant Wall of Honor"
database. He arrived on the Mayflower in 1620, two
hundred seventy-two years before Ellis Island first

This wall at Ellis Island is a memorial funded by
private contributions. In order to have an ancestor's
name inscribed on the "American Immigrant Wall of
Honor" and also listed in the database, his or her
descendants or some other person must pay $100. For a
listing of a husband and wife, such as "John A. and
Mary T. Smith," the charge is $200. Several "special
name formats" are also available, with fees ranging
from $1,000 to $10,000. All names are entered without
verification of the information, so we must assume
that errors exist.

The new immigrants database that will go online this
week is a very different offering from the "American
Immigrant Wall of Honor." The new immigrants database
will contain information extracted from original
records, all without requirement for any payment of
fees to "honor" these immigrants. The new database
should contain very high quality genealogy

Keep an eye for this new database to appear soon at: