Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, March 2, 1997, pg. 2
This past fall during my cemetery tour I mentioned that it is possible to find out what ship your ancestor came to America on. Several persons have reminded me about this, and so for the benefit of our readers, here is some helpful information. First, check the State Archives in Lansing to see if your ancestor filled out a “Declaration of Intention” to become a U.S. citizen. The index for the Declarations made in Calhoun County are in two big blue notebooks, and are easy to look up.
If so, copy the document on the microfilm printer, and note the name of the ship. Then check the Morton Allan Directory of European Passenger Steamship Arrivals book (available at the Albion Public Library Local History Room) to get the correct ship name and arrival date. Often the Declarations of Intentions will have incorrect dates or ship names due to memory lapses or poor English by the immigrant when speaking to the clerk who wrote it down trying to decipher it.
No luck? Then write the National Archives, Textual Reference Branch, 7th and Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20408 and ask for a couple of copies of Form-81, “National Archives Order for Copies of Ship Passenger Arrival Records.” After receiving it back, fill out the form using as much information as you know, and send it back. Unless you know otherwise, put New York as the port of arrival. They will then search their master “Soundex” index for that port and try and come up with your ancestor’s actual name on the ship’s list. Even if you don’t know the ship or date, they still might be able to find it using their master index.
You will have to wait about two months, however for a reply. If they are successful, they will ask you to send them $17.50, and then you will receive your Xerox copy of the actual record. The passenger lists contain much information, such as the person’s name and country of origin, city of origin, nationality, race, their destination, and other information. For example, I have seen some with the destination statement, “Albion Malleable Iron Company, Albion, Michigan.”
Good luck in your ancestral search. Let me know when you are successful, and you are welcome to send me a copy which I can place in your family file in my archives. From our Historical Notebook this week we present an example from the Morton Allen Directory showing a listing of passenger ships from the Hamburg-American line that arrived in New York in early 1903. The date of arrival is on the left, and the name of the ship is on the right.
Morton Allen Directory showing Ship Arrivals: Hamburg-American Line 1903
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