Sunday, March 24, 2013

Ship Research Approach

With George Wolff's Solider's Petition for Naturalization in hand, I now had the month and year of his arrival. However, I still could not locate him using's indexes nor by browsing the collection. I needed a strategy to reduce the number of record ships passenger lists.

First, I used the telegram and newspaper publication listing of safe arrivals back to Norway provided by the Norway Heritage site. I actually landed on the month of August but I noticed the url was constructed with a numerical date, so I just replaced the 08 with a 07.

Like this:

Not a big deal but I didn't readily see their navigation method.

In the month of July 1891, at least 72 vessels were reported back to folks in Norway as safely arriving. From there, I did a find on page and noted only the vessels that went from Rotterdam and bound for New York. I had six vessels now.

  • 7/12 SS Obdam
  • 7/13 SS Schiedam
  • 7/18 SS Didam
  • 7/19 SS Maasdam
  • 7/23 SS Amsterdam
  • 7/29 SS Spaarndam

The site warns that the passenger lists would be 1-2 days off from this date. Good to know.

By then using the Ships Arriving at the Port of New York 1890-1891 from, I was able to see just that ships that had folks aboard that were from Poland, Austria, and Galacia. I might be subject to the problems of indexing again, but at least the mistake would have to be repeated hundreds of times. I didn't winnow the further but now I had some more wiggle room around the dates, perhaps more accurate.

  • 7/12 (7/10)  SS Obdam
  • 7/13 (7/14) SS Schiedam
  • 7/18 SS Didam
  • 7/19 (7/16) SS Maasdam
  • 7/23 (7/24)  SS Amsterdam
  • 7/29 SS Spaarndam

Down at the bottom of the page they kindly list the National Archive Publication number as well as the reel number for Family History Archive.

I am interested in reels 571 and 572 of publication M237. At the National Archives, I didn't just dive in. I read the accompanying pdf to the M237 publication. Fascinating stuff in the sense it explains what might be missing, why and how it was gathered and indexed. has this collection (that's where either their indexing accuracy or my searching methods had failed). I have to keep my eye open for a male around 15 years old, from either Poland or Austria. I have seen obfuscated lines where he could be...but I am not writing him off yet.
Perhaps in line 12 or 13?
A day later I have eyeballed 4 of the 6 ships passenger lists. I didn't mention before that I plan on doing the same thing for April of 1891, since other records have that as his arrival month and July as his birth month. I haven't found him or his family yet on a ship manifest, but I haven't given up yet!

I did see an awesome record where "STOWAWAYS" was written next to two names. I guess they were found out upon somewhere along the journey or upon disembarking. Forgot to mention that has some nice prints of ships for sale. Consider it a donation or a present- win either way!

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