Monday, September 1, 2008

Immigration Passenger Lists Post #1 ~ Markings on the Manifests left Margin

Apparently I never posted the first article in this series. It was written on September 1, 2008. I started this blog on August 25, 2008, and had only posted six times at that point. I was still learning the blogging world and never realized it wasn't actually posted. This evening I ran across the draft. So, with my apologies, I am posting it now, February 8, 2009.



(Post #1 from study group I attended)

Last week I attended a study group which was full of new information for me. The group was studying immigration passenger lists. How many manifests have we looked at? What have we noticed on them? Probably the ships name, peoples names, where the immigrant was coming from and where they were headed to. The date and other information depending on what manifest you are looking at.

There are many different types of lists of manifests. I saw examples of "States Immigrant Inspector at Port of Arrival ," "List of United States Citizens," and "Record of Aliens Held for Special Inquiry".

There is so much more than the basics that we can actually learn from each of these manifests. If you look at a couple of different manifests as an example, you may notice numbers, markings and or lines drawn through names and such. All of these markings have a meaning, and we can interpret many of them.

For instance, on the far left column prior to the numerical numbering of the names, you may see a number, 2-7 digits long. These numbers were used as an ID number. They were also called a "contract" number. The steamships used these numbers to match with other important documents. Sometimes a passenger didn't have one of these "contract numbers" and there may be markings showing that.

You may see the numbers in consecutive order or you may not. It is unknown if these numbers may have been taken from a passengers ticket (hence, maybe the first matching to a document?) or where they came from. The numbers didn't have a meaning with United States records, their meaning was with records that were helpful to the ships. The numbers were also sometimes used as a "Head Tax", and may have been a single digit. These numbers referring to a "Head Tax" were from earlier lists, before the shipping companies made a special area just for "Head Tax."

There may be markings whether the passenger wanted a receipt for paying his tax. Sometimes the passenger might actually argue having to pay the tax and maybe it would be noted on the list also. If the passenger was only going through the United States to get to his final destination and he got off the ship and back on he would receive the tax money back that he had paid.

The markings on these lists were very important to the ships lines. One example; the steamship companies would know how many "Head Taxes" had been paid and what the ship had to pay accordingly.

Look for future posts regarding these lists to find out what else I learned.

(This study group followed "A Guide to Interpreting Passenger List Annotations" by Marion Smith, Historian, U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service. With the assistance of Elise Friedman, Flora Gursky, and Eleanor Bien.)

Thanks for stopping by!

Wishing you success in all of your genealogical treasure hunts!

Msteri

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