[Ger-Poland-Volhynia] Hints for using the Ellis Island online records

Jerry Frank jkfrank at shaw.ca
Wed Sep 17 08:29:17 PDT 2003

I have recently helped a number of people with clarifying places names and 
other data on the Ellis Island records.  Here are some things that may help 
you in your research.

1.  Use the simplified search approach at 
http://www.jewishgen.org/databases/EIDB/ellis.html instead of the more 
awkward one on the Ellis Island site.

2.  You can start your search with an exact query such as "Amalia 
Schultz".  However, do not stop there.  Always generalize your search by 
looking for, as an example, "A Schultz" and then consider variant spellings 
like Schulz.  Consider too that Amalia is sometimes written incorrectly as 
the distinctively different but similar Emilia.  You may therefore also 
want to look for all "E Schultz".  Using the link above, you can also set 
the range of matches with features like "starts with", "exact match", 
"sounds like", etc.

3.  NEVER trust the extracted data to be accurate.  ALWAYS proceed to 
viewing the original document to compare what was written to what is 
extracted.  For example, a place name extracted as Lovnitz was clearly 
TYPED!! on the original record as Lomnitz.

To view the original:
Your first result page will be a list of names that match your search 
query.  Once you click on a name of interest, you will be taken to a detail 
page for that individual.  Above that data is a link that reads, "View 
original ship manifest".  Click that and you will see it in a form too 
small to read.  Click on the magnifying glass to the right to enlarge it.

4.  View more than one page.  Most times the first page that comes up is 
the second page of the manifest which will not have the list of 
names.  Instead of clicking the magnifying glass, first click "Previous 
Page".  This goes back one page.  Now click the magnifying glass and you 
will see the list of names on the left side.  Once you know what line 
number your people are on, you can go back to the second page to see if 
there is additional helpful data.  You can also go back and forth to view 
additional pages for the same ship.  You may find other families (perhaps 
even relatives) who come from the same village as yours.

5.  The place name of origin may not always be clearly written.  Take the 
time to look carefully at the handwriting.  Compare it to other writing on 
the page to help decipher the letters that might be questionable.  See if 
there are other people on the same page who come from the same village.  It 
may be written more clearly on that line.  Look at page 2.  Sometimes the 
place name is repeated in other columns on that page.  It may be more 
clearly written there.

6.  The original document may hold clues not shown in the extraction.  For 
example, the extraction may show someone correctly as having last lived in 
XYZ, Germany.  The original my also show that XYZ was in Posen.  The 
original may also give the name and relationship of a person left behind at 
the last place of residence, as well as the name of a person to which the 
family is going to.  These could be valuable clues in your research.

Hope these hints will help you in your search.  If you have any other hints 
that have helped you, feel free to add to this thread.

Jerry Frank - Calgary, Alberta
jkfrank at shaw.ca 

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