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April 2001


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"A LISTSERV list for discussions pertaining to New York State history." <[log in to unmask]>
Ruth Messick <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 23 Apr 2001 13:29:23 -0400
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"A LISTSERV list for discussions pertaining to New York State history." <[log in to unmask]>
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Passing this on....

Dick Eastman has thousands of list subscribers and keeps on top of the
information sought by everyone doing research. Thought you would enjoy
knowing what is available and especially the surprise finds he had of other
relative's comings and goings.
There is more to Ellis Island records than previously thought.

Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter
Vol 6  No. 17  23 Apr 2001

22 Million Ellis Island Immigrants Now Online

As predicted in last week's newsletter, the Ellis Island
immigration records are now available online. The site went live
last week and immediately became a hit. Such a hit, in fact, that
I had a hard time accessing the online database. In the first
couple of days, I would receive the following error when trying to
go to the Web site:

HTTP Error 403

403.9 Access Forbidden: Too many users are connected

This error can be caused if the Web server is busy and cannot
process your request due to heavy traffic. Please try to
connect again later.

One report said that the Web site received 8 million visitors in
one 8-hour period. I suspect there were many more than that trying
to access the site. However, a few days later everything calmed
down, and I was able to access the site without any difficulties.
However, after completing a search, I would attempt to start a new
search and would be greeted with the following:

Thank you for your interest in the American Family Immigration
History Center at ellisislandrecords.org. Due to an
extraordinary number of visitors, we must limit access to the
site. Please keep trying, or check back later.

Such error messages are common on very popular, new sites that are
overwhelmed with users. These error messages will probably
disappear as the initial flood of users subsides a bit.

The new searchable database contains the records of 22 million
immigrants to America who came through Ellis Island. The records
cover the years 1892, when Ellis Island first opened, to 1924.
Those are the peak years of Ellis Island's operations. It is
estimated that forty percent of the population of this country can
trace their roots through Ellis Island, so this new online
database is valuable to Americans who wish to trace their family

Some areas of the Ellis Island Records Website are free, others
require registration, and still more require membership in The
Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation. You may perform
searches for names without registering. The database will return
the name, most recent residence, year of arrival, and age at time
of arrival. However, access to more detailed information requires
a free registration. The free registration gives you read-only
access to all the records in the database.

An optional membership is available for $45.00. Once that fee is
paid, you become a Sustaining Member of The Statue of Liberty-
Ellis Island Foundation. Sustaining members can:

* Annotate passenger records in the Ellis Island Archives. That
is, you can add your comments to an individual's record. Your
comments will then be visible to all people who later display
that individual's record. This would be an excellent method of
finding long-lost cousins who are also descendants of that

* Create and maintain your Family History Scrapbook. The Family
History Scrapbooks are not yet available but should go online

* Order one free copy of your initial Scrapbook (print or CD-

* Receive a 10% discount at the online Gift Shop or at the

The membership fees are used to support the ongoing work of the
Foundation at Ellis Island.

The Ellis Island records database is very easy to use. You simply
type in a person's last name. The last name is required, while the
first name is optional. The database then returns a list of all
the names that match your request.

After displaying a list of names, you may narrow your search by
specifying gender, year of arrival, ethnicity, age on arrival,
port of departure, or the name of the ship. This can be a great
aid in finding extended families who traveled together: first find
one particular individual, then specify a search for everyone of
that surname arriving on the same day.

While this online database is described as a "list of immigrants,"
it actually is more than that. The database usually lists all
arrivals, not just new immigrants. American citizens who traveled
abroad and then returned are usually listed in this same database.
When searching for my own surname, I found a number of entries for
George Eastman of Rochester, New York. This well-known inventor
and industrialist founded the Eastman Kodak Company. He apparently
crossed the Atlantic numerous times, either on business or for
pleasure. I found many entries for him.

Jim Boulden had a similar experience that he described in an e-
mail this week:

I have been looking forward to the Ellis Island database for
years. It took five minutes to find my great-grandmother on my
father's side when she moved from England. A major victory.

But you can imagine how stunned I was to find dozens of my
relatives. It never occurred to me that people went through
Ellis Island who weren't emigrants. 65 members of my mother's
clan are listed coming back from holidays between 1892 and
1923. I never knew my great-aunt went to Puerto Rico when she
was 31.

I wonder how many people out there realize their family may
very well be listed in this new database, when they weren't
'coming to America.' Spread the word!

Jim Boulden

Visitors to the Statue of Liberty will also be able to access the
database at the site of the landmark by stopping in at the Ellis
Island Immigration Museum. This museum was created by a seven-year
partnership between the Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island Foundation,
the National Park Service, and The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints.

The database is a result of a huge volunteer effort. Some 12,000
volunteers from the Church spent several years electronically
transcribing data from ships' manifests on passengers and crew
members who entered the Port of New York from 1892 to 1924, the
peak years of Ellis Island's processing. Volunteers donated over
five million hours during this labor-intensive project.

Steve Briganti, President of the Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island
Foundation said, "The partnership of three very separate groups
with very special and specific interests have come together to
provide something that is valuable for so many millions of people
who want to know about their heritage."

This week's inauguration of the Ellis Island Records 0online
database marks a major milestone for genealogists. A major source
of important records is now available 24 hours a day. You may
easily access these records without leaving the comfort of your
own home.

For more information about the Ellis Island Records online Web
site, or to access the database itself, go to: