Saturday, February 9, 2019

Immigration, Naturalization and Ship Travel Presentation

Hal Bookbinder presented two topics for the San Diego Genealogical Society monthly meeting today. Hal’s areas of interest include immigration, immigrant travel, citizenship, Jewish history, and safe computing.

Hal’s first presentation was entitled Ships of Our Ancestors. During Hal’s presentation he first took us through the methods of travel our ancestors used to get from their villages to railway stations. He showed us the railway maps throughout Europe in the 19th century. Once our ancestors got to the major ports of departure he then told us about the types of ships and the major Shipping Companies our ancestors would have traveled on, the lengths of the voyages based on the type of ship and what life would have been like as they sailed to America. Hal showed us many great pictures to help us follow the information he was presenting.

Hal’s second presentation was entitled U.S. Immigration and Naturalization. Hal talked about the Citizenship and Naturalization Process for our ancestors and how the requirements have changed over the years since the 1790s. Using some examples from his own family research Hal was able to demonstrate several examples of citizenship paperwork. Hal reminded us when we are obtaining copies of Naturalization records we should be sure to get the entire file and not just a copy of the Naturalization record. It was interesting to note that in 1907 if a woman had been born in the United States but married a man who was foreign born and not a citizen she lost her citizenship. Hal had a great slide of Customs Passenger Lists 1820-1891 and an Immigration Passenger List for 1891-1954. This was a compilation of the information that is available during these specific time periods, a valuable list to have when searching for information.

  • I have not been able to locate any of my ancestors on ship passenger lists but after Hal’s talk I decided to give it a try once again. I learned my German ancestors probably left Bremen (Bremerhaven) or Hamburg, Germany to come to America. I found the following listing and I believe I found my maternal 2x great grandfather’s name on a passenger list finally:

#119, Jacob Hamman, 25 years old, male, occupation-shoemaker, from Preussen (the German spelling for Prussia), destination New York, part of the vessel on the voyage-below deck
Jacob Hamman arrived in New York, New York on board the ship ‘Atlantic’ on 25 April 1859 from Bremerhaven, Germany. That fits! (See post My First Naturalization Papers-Jacob Hamman)

Another speaker presentation with valuable tips helps me find information I previously was unable to locate. 

If you have any corrections, additions or stories to share I look forward to hearing them.
Enjoy the journey,


  1. Woohoo! Always great to find those "firsts." I still need to find my first naturalization record. I have several passenger records, but have begun to wonder if I’ll ever see a naturalization record. I'll keep trying though, like you did with this. Thanks for the summary of today’s SDGS meeting.

    1. Thanks Diane! I have had such a difficult time find names on Ship's Passenger Lists. Hope this will help me find some more :)