Dear Ancestry Insider,
I have been indexing immigration records. I am now questioning the value of these records. They do not indicate where the immigrant came from. No relationship is given. What is the value? Should we be blindly indexing records or should we be indexing the most valuable records?
I assume you are indexing ships’ passenger manifests. The earlier the record, the more sketchy the information.
Even without this information, these records can be extremely valuable in making that all important hop across the pond to your ancestor’s old home. Families, neighbors, and friends often traveled together, making it possible to pick your ancestor out of a sea of badly identified immigrants. Arrival dates and ports can be cross-referenced with published sources (like Allen’s Directory or contemporary newspapers) to learn departure ports. Knowing when, where, and with whom your ancestor left Europe can lead to further records and clues.
Indexing ships’ passenger lists opens these records up like microfilm never could. Previously, one had to search port by port, year by year, and ship arrival by ship arrival to find a potential ancestor. A search that previously might take a lifetime can be performed in indexed records in a fraction of a second.
I applaud your desire to focus your valuable time on indexing valuable records. As you review the list of available projects, I hope you will consider immigration records. In my opinion, an index comprehensive across time and ports is well worth creating.
--The Ancestry Insider