NY Passenger arrivals and Rotterdam passenger departures #general

Stanley Diamond

There were two recent JewishGen postings relating to frustrations with
NY passenger arrival records. I would like to repeat an old post which
should be helpful to both of these researchers and which may be of
value to many others for some surprising reasons.

Enquiry 1:
On Thu, 18 Feb 1999 11:12:13 -0600 Jane Wechsler-Holeywell of
Houston, TX " <holeywel@onramp.net> writes:

After many years of looking, I think I have finally found the microfilmed
card with information concerning the arrival of my grandmother Sophie
GREENBERG (misspelled as "Grunberg" on the card). My problem is
that the information on the card is so light, as to be barely legible. snip
....could someone suggest another source of finding the information
contained on the card?

BTW, I searched the 1900 US Census for my grandma.... snip and
was unable to find the family, leading me to assume that they arrived
after June, 1900, the date of the census.

In addition, after staring at the card, using yellow paper, magnifying
glasses, etc. I was able to make out some of the letters of the name of the
ship. They appear to be (note: ? after letter means a guess, X means
illegible, /indicates certainty):
W?O?O?R?XL/A/N/D/ Woordland? Vaardland
Z?O?O?N?XL/A/N/D/ Zoonland? Zeeland?
N?E?E?XL/A/N/D/ Needland?
Enquiry 2:
On Thu, 18 Feb 1999 23:15:04 -0500 : "Don J. Einbinder"
<donjein@bellsouth.net> writes:

I received my grandfather's naturalization papers which showed that he
came to the US on the ship Potsdam >from Rotterdam on August 25, 1903.
I then made my first trip to our local FHC and with some help was able to
find a film number for that ship's passenger list. ..... I went through the
entire film only to find no mention at all of that ship.

Any suggestions >from the group as to how to proceed now in my quest?
In both enquiries, the vessels were owned by the Holland - American Line
which sailed >from Rotterdam. In reply to the first message Alan Shuchat
<ashuchat@wellesley.edu> deduced the likely names of the vessels as
being "Zeeland, Kroonland, Vaderland"

Here is a slightly updated version of an excerpt >from my post in August
1995 to which I referred earlier.

Subject: Rotterdam Departure Lists
Based on what I have been reading on JewishGen (in 1995) it would
appear a reminder might be timely regarding "Passenger Lists of the
Holland-American Line" (Rotterdam passenger departure lists).

As Peter Lande mentioned in AVOTAYNU, Vol.X, No.4, Winter 1994, P. 83
"Rotterdam was a major port of embarkation... to the U.S. and Canada"
(see also Vol. VIII:4. P.57). Peter also notes that ....the microfiches
(of the Rotterdam Departure Lists) contain ship name, date of departure,
traveller's name, ports of embarkation and debarkation, place of booking
and class of travel."

One might ask, "is that all?" - the answer is a small yes, and a big NO.
Here's why:

1. Many of us have read about or have been personally frustrated by
the poor quality (unreadable in many cases) of the 1897-1902 New York
passenger arrival indexes, and inaccuracies in both these and later
indexes. The Rotterdam departure lists may include the person you are
looking for and enable you to go straight to the New York passenger
arrival lists.

2. The Rotterdam lists are complete >from June 1900 to 1940.

3. While only the head of household's name is listed, there are columns
to indicate accompanying adult/spouse, as well as number of children.

4. The indexes are "semi-alphabetized"; that is, by the first letter of the
family name, with the vessels listed chronologically. Thus, all the A's
travelling on the Nieuw Amsterdam, on a given date, are grouped together,
followed by the A's on the next departing vessel, etc. The City archives
in Rotterdam allow you to use three microfiche at one time which speeds
up the research process.

Important: While the indices list the passenger name (head of household),
vessel name, and class of travel. The town of origin/birth is _not_ shown.
Thus, the only significant reason to look at the actual departure lists
themselves is to note the number of accompanying passengers (see 3.
above). It could present an interesting question if this varied with the
arrival lists!

5. One of the important features of the Rotterdam lists is the quality of
the original records and the excellent microfilming job. But most of all,
the calligraphy, almost with exception, is excellent and consistent; it is
possible to quickly adjust to the different handwriting styles.

6. As noted below, the departure lists can be a source of an "original"
family name.

My research: Successes, Coincidences, Surprises...
(Finding an elusive original family surname)

The evening prior to my second visit to the Rotterdam City Archives, I
received an e-mail message >from fellow Ostrow Mazowiecka (Poland)
researcher, Alan DROZ (Michigan), advising that, while looking for
the New York passenger arrival list record for his great aunt Zelda
SWIETLOW, he noted a Riwke WIDELEC on the manifest for the
Nieuw Amsterdam which arrived in New York on January 3, 1917.
Since my WIDELEC ancestors carried the Beta-Thalassemia
genetic trait, Alan was aware of the importance of the name to me and
alerted me immediately. It turned out to be to his benefit as well.

Out of curiosity, upon my return to the Rotterdam City Archives, I looked
up the departure list for the New (Nieuw) Amsterdam. While Riwke's family
name, WIDELEC, was spelled the same on both the departure and arrival
lists, this was _not_ so for Alan's great aunt. When she sailed, her name
was Selda SWIETLA; When she arrived, she became Zelda SWIETLOW!
This is another example of how the departure list can be a source for the
elusive original family name/spelling.

Sources of the Rotterdam Departure Lists (note: may not be current)
While the Rotterdam City Archives has both the index and full passenger
manifest fiches. the index is available at the Boston Public Library and the
New York Public Library.

On Aug. 11, 1995, I was told that a set of indexes and manifest fiches had
been sold to the Family History Library, Salt Lake City. The FHL did not
confirm it at the time but did indicate that purchased fiche, such as these,
are normally only accessible in SLC and cannot be duplicated for local
Family History Centers.

Anyone with more current information, kindly please update all of us.
Stanley M. Diamond, Montreal
"Genealogy with an extra reason" .... (Beta-Thalassemia research project)

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