“The Genealogy Event” in NYC, and Glazier ‘Immigrants to America’ series

I went to a great genealogy conference in New York City a few weeks ago. It was just before Hurricane Sandy came through; we knew the storm was coming, but we didn’t know how bad it was going to be.

The conference itself, though, was great. Called simply “The Genealogy Event”, it took place at The Metropolitan Pavilion, which was a beautiful space. I particularly liked the wood floor, rather than the standard poured concrete. A range of exhibitors attended, and it was fun for me to see folks I’d met at previous conferences, as well as meet some new ones. It was great to see a genealogy conference in a super-major city. NGS and FGS conferences are almost always in smaller cities, so putting this unaffiliated, independent event in a big city was a great move.

Interactions with attendees were also great; one highlight definitely was seeing a friend from library school who I hadn’t seen in maybe 10 years. I guess I knew he was in Manhattan, but it is a big place – it’s not likely that you’ll run into someone you know there, to say nothing of inside the conference hall!

I had two separate versions of another very interesting interaction. A woman came to me with a copy of her ancestor’s naturalization papers. On it, her ancestor had recorded his arrival at Ellis Island on board the ship Le Havre in about 1906, if I remember correctly. She told me that the folks at Ellis Island had said no ship existed with that name, and she wanted to see if I could help. I quickly looked up “le havre” in the database, and did expect to find a lot of ships with that name. However, in fact, there were just a handful of entries, and their timing didn’t match with passenger vessels of that era at all.

Now, granted, there are many, many ships that are not (yet) included in the ShipIndex.org database. But for immigration ships, I’d say it’s pretty comprehensive. Records for that time period are quite complete, and lots of databases and books cover the period (to say nothing of entries in, say, the magazine Steamboat Bill / PowerShips). Given the total lack of entries for that period, I felt that the folks at Ellis Island were correct. I pointed out that the date on the naturalization papers was 20-some years after the ancestor said he’d arrived, so it’s reasonable to assume that he just remembered incorrectly. Or, perhaps, his English was still not very good when he completed the form, and when an officer asked him what ship he arrived on, he instead answered with where he sailed from.

The solution to tracking this down, I think, is to look at the appropriate volumes edited by Ira Glazier & others, such as Italians to America, Germans to America, etc. These books, which transcribe thousands of passenger lists from the National Archives, are organized by date, then by vessel name. So if the ancestor’s date of arrival was correct (certainly not a given, since the ship name was wrong), then the researcher could locate the appropriate volume – first by nationality (for the proper series), then by date (for the proper volume), then by day, and then look at vessel entries.

One huge disappointment about these volumes (for me) is that they have no vessel index to them. Since they were clearly machine-processed, it would seem a vessel index would have been easy to generate, but as far as I can tell, it wasn’t done. A year or so ago I had a bee in my bonnet about creating such an index, but I tried one path to doing it and found it to not work. After these interactions in NYC, I went back to trying it. My results were actually better than I’d expected, but I am still afraid it will take far too long to do this work. I’ll keep thinking about it, though. I would love to make it work; I think a vessel index to those volumes would be incredibly valuable.

In any case, and even without the important vessel index, these Glazier volumes are a valuable tool. While I’m not certain of it, I believe that these volumes are not included in Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.org, FindMyPast.com, or any other genealogy aggregated databases. There are so many resources that are not in these mega-databases; they’re fantastic places to start, but it’s important to not stop there!

In the spirit of encouraging further research in this area, here is a list of all the Glazier “Immigrants to America” volumes of which I am aware. Two series, Italians to America and Emigration from the United Kingdom to America, are still being published.

  • Germans to America: Lists of Passengers Arriving at US Ports.
    • 67 volumes, covering January 1850 to June 1897.
  • Germans to America, Series II: Lists of Passengers Arriving at US Ports in the 1840s.
    • Seven volumes, covering January 1840 to December 1849.
  • Italians to America: Lists of Passengers Arriving at US Ports.
    • 28 volumes so far, covering January 1880 to April 1905.
      (Vols. 27 & 28 were published in June 2012, by Scarecrow Press.)
  • Emigration from the United Kingdom to America: Lists of Passengers Arriving at US Ports.
    • 18 volumes so far, currently covering January 1870 to December 1881.
      (Vols. 17 & 18 were published two weeks ago [Nov 2012], by Scarecrow Press.)
  • Migration from the Russian Empire: List of Passengers Arriving at the Port of New York.
    • Six volumes, covering January 1875 to June 1891.
  • The Famine Immigrants: Lists of Irish Immigrants Arriving at the Port of New York, 1846-1851.
    • Seven volumes, covering January 1846 to December 1851.

(Thanks to Jared Hughes at Rowman & Littlefield for helping me confirm the publishing information above.)


The Genealogy Event was a great event. I hope it’ll become an annual event; I plan to attend as often as I can.

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