Passenger Lists to North America

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Our Librarian, Penny Allen, gives advice on researching passenger information using the museums' library and archive. 

Contrary to public opinion, passenger lists do not exist! Well, it seems that in the genealogy researcher’s world, they certainly come few and far between. So let me explain. In many instances, original records of passenger lists, especially those pre First World War, are not easily accessible. Alternate records for passenger lists that are quite reliable are transcriptions from original records or transcriptions of published books by librarians, genealogy enthusiasts and very dedicated volunteers.
Ancestry provides a shining example of online passenger lists. They have digitized all of the data from the Passenger and Immigration Lists Index (PILI) (print resource) fondly referred to as Filby’s. This three volume set for passengers to the U.S. and Canada (1500s-1900s) was compiled by P. William Filby and contains bibliographic entries alongside pages and pages of family names. Where did Filby get this information? He transcribed records of passenger lists available in books, journal articles and original records. (see reference below) 
Passenger Lists
Fibly, P. William. 1981. Passenger and immigration lists index – RMG ID item: PBN9859
Looking up a surname in the index will then provide a cross reference to the resource where the information was taken from. As an example: the entry for Cabera, Josef DeNerez shows that he travelled to New Orleans, Louisiana in 1779 and travelling with him was his wife Josefa DelCastilo and four daughters. The reference provided is 9436, p.50. Therefore, Filby found a reference to the Cabera family in The Canary Islands Migration to Louisiana, 1778-1783
Passenger Lists 2
9436  VILLERE, Sidney Lous. The Canary Islands Migration to Louisiana, 1778-1783. The history and passenger lists of the Islenos volunteer recruits and their families. New Orleans: Genealogical Research Society of New Orleans, 1971. (Reprint. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co. Inc., 1972.)
There is still much more information available in the Supplements to the PILIs, copies of which are held in the Caird Library. However, these Supplements are bibliographies only; they do not hold lists of names. Therefore, you would have to search for a copy of the reference items that are noted and research the information provided in those resources.
P&O liner 'Mooltan' in the port of London
P and O liner 'Mooltan' in the port of London
Some additional resources available in the Caird Library that might help your search for passenger lists:
• Coldham, Peter Wilson. 1985. English adventurers and emigrants, 1609-1733: abstracts of examinations in the High Court of Admiralty with reference to Colonial America. Baltimore Genealogical Publishing. ISBN: 0806310820; 0806312211
• Fibly, P. William. 1981. Passenger and immigration lists index. Gale Cengage. ISBN: 0787619361 (published on Ancestry)
• Lancour, Harold (comp). 3rd ed. 1963. A bibliography of ship passenger lists of early immigrants to North America. New York.  (Ship names only – does not contain lists of passenger’s.)
• Mitchell, Brian (comp).  1988. Irish passenger lists 1847-1871: lists of passengers sailing from Londondery to America on ships of the J & J Cooke Line and the McCorkell Line. Baltimore Genealogical Publishing ISBN: 0806312068
Morton Allan Directory of European Passenger Steamship Arrivals for the years 1890 to 1930 at the port of New York and for the years 1904 to 1926 at the ports of New York, Philadelphia, Boston and Baltimore. Published in 1987 Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc.  ISBN: 0806308303.  It is a reprint of the original 1931 publication.
You may then ask, where do I find the passengers lists to Australia, to the Indies, etc.? They can also be found in collections within other special archives but may also be found with shipping company records, as is the case with some P&O ships. A future blog article will highlight where to search for those passenger lists.
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