Now What? Lost at Sea

By Sharon DeBartolo Carmack Premium

Q. My problem is that the US and Irish records I need to find my family were destroyed in fires. I know my great-grandfather died on the ship coming over to the United States. Is there a Web site or other source that lists deaths on ships?

A. What a wonderful idea! Someone should compile a list of all those who have died aboard ship coming to America. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been done yet, either in print or online. I checked with two Irish experts, two Internet genealogy gurus, TheShipsList Home Page <> and Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild <>. None of these resources were aware of any such compilation, either.

Passengers who died aboard ship were recorded usually on the last page of the entire manifest, or a notation might have been made on the passenger’s entry on the list. Their names should be indexed along with other passengers. Not all ports and time periods have been indexed, however. For more information on using passenger lists and indexes, see A Genealogist’s Guide to Discovering Your Immigrant and Ethnic Ancestors (Betterway Books).

I find it unusual that all the US and Irish records you need were destroyed in fires, since many people are successfully doing Irish immigrant research. My suggestion would be to consult two primary works that will tell you whether the records you need still exist, and if they don’t, other research strategies and records that might indirectly give you the information you seek: A Genealogist’s Guide to Discovering Your Irish Ancestors (Betterway Books), by Dwight Radford and Kyle Betit, and Discovering Your Immigrant and Ethnic Ancestors mentioned above.

From the June 2001 issue of Family Tree Magazine