Extraction and Transcription Project
by John Cardinal
The Ellis Island web site is a great resource for genealogists and anyone else researching the history of Ellis Island and the immigrants who passed through there. Unfortunately, as of May 2001, accessing the site is quite painful; the site is very slow and often does not function at all. The text versions of the "passenger records" (brief summaries of manifest entries) are the most usable. The text version of the manifest and the image of the original manifest pages are successively more difficult to review.
The performance of the Ellis Island web site will probably improve. Meanwhile, I have extracted quite a bit of data on two Irish families from the site, and I would like to share it with other interested researchers.
I searched for every record with the surnames Clasby and Cloherty, including other spellings for Cloherty including Clougherty and Clarity. For each record, I copied all the text from the "Passenger Record" page into a database. That information is pretty limited. The data fields include Name, Ethnicity, Age on Arrival, Gender, Marital Status, Ship of Travel, and Port of Departure. Unfortunately, all of the fields are not populated in every case.
Once the Passenger Record was entered, I attempted to access the text version of the manifest. The text version of the manifest only includes a couple of extra data fields, but it yields important clues about traveling companions.
The original (image) version of the manifest is available through a link on the manifest text page. Unfortunately, the link is not always present, and in some cases, the link is present but the actual image of the manifest is not returned. Anyway, when possible, I reviewed the image version of the manifest and entered all the additional data found there.
The data on the image of the manifest is invaluable; it may help you identify a person when you don't know the date they traveled, etc. For example, the manifest often includes the name and address of relatives of the passenger, one in the U.S. and one in their birth country.
The image version of the manifest often includes handwritten entries that describe relationships between passengers, such as when members of a family were traveling together. When that information was available, I added links between the traveling companions.
I attempted to reproduce the data found on the manifests as faithfully as possible. I did not correct misspellings and other errors, and I did not make the data "politically correct." In many cases, I added comments and corrections enclosed in [brackets]. I also added some conclusions regarding traveling companions.
Once I had enough data to warrant publishing it, I wrote some simple programs to produce the web pages that are presented here. I am not done entering data; if you find a record for which you would like more information, check the Ellis Island site, or send me an email.
Please note that I do not believe I am violating any copyrights. I have not copied a significant portion of the data offered on the Ellis Island site, I am not using the original form of the data, and in the case of data from the image versions of the manifests, I added information not present in text form on the Ellis Island site.
Please contact John Cardinal with any comments or updates. Thank you.