Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Wanted: brother, sister, daughter, son

Boston College's Irish Studies Program has given us an online window into the world of Irish immigrants to America in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Its website entitled "Information Wanted: A Database of Advertisements for Irish Immigrants Published in the Boston Pilot" is an index of the 31,711 ads placed for missing family members and friends during the years 1831 to 1921.

As the website explains, "The advertisements contain the ordinary but revealing details about the missing person’s life: the county and parish of their birth, when they left Ireland, the believed port of arrival in North America, their occupation, and a range of other personal information. Some records may have as many as 50 different data fields, while others may offer only a few details. The people who placed ads were often anxious family members in Ireland, or the wives, siblings, or parents of men who followed construction jobs on railroads or canals."

The Information Wanted column pictured above (published in the Boston Pilot in 1858) reads as follows:
"Advertisements under this head are inserted three times one dollar. The immense circulation of the Pilot in every city, town, and hamlet on the American Continent, renders it the best medium through which to make inquiries about lost friends. More than three-fourths of those advertised for are found. Persons wishing their friends advertised, can send us a dollar inclosed in a letter, with the advertisement written as legibly as possible, in order that no mistakes are made by the printer."
It is one thing to study the era that saw the heavy flow of Irish immigration to America. It is another thing altogether to look one by one at the names of those immigrants sadly yet hopefully seeking their missing loved ones.

1 comment:

Apple said...

This is great! I don't know if any of the Michael Kelly's in the data base are mine but they are worth looking at.

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