January 1, 2016

Traveling Puerto Rican and Dominican Families - Finding Your Ancestors

Happy 2016 everyone!  Nothing like starting off the new year by celebrating our family and culture!  One thing I have learned as well as many of you is that each of us carry DNA that is global.  Our culture and islands have seen people from all over the world. So my next blog post is going to represent what our ancestors did; travel.

There are quite a few ways of finding out how our ancestors traveled without paying for information.  For the islands of Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic it is quite easy.  We can even throw in Cuba to cover our bases.

When we think of these islands, the last thing we think of is the United States.  Let's be honest, our ancestors didn't just travel only to the US mainland, we traveled around the globe.

In addition, our ancestors didn't only travel to the United States and elsewhere starting in the late 19th and 20th Century, our ancestors were travel well prior to that. Ever gone looking for a record or a family member and can't locate them in Puerto Rico in 1910, 1920, 1930, or even 1940?  The reason for this is not only can they have not been documented in these Census but they also may have been traveling.

For Dominican Republic there are no national Census records that list out citizen names. I was provided by another great genealogist a copy of the 1920 Dominican Census and it is simply a report that provides statistical data and can be inaccurate since there are no names associated to the numbers reported.

However not all is lost. The following links can all be found on FamilySearch. Let's start with the most obvious, Ellis Island.  Keep in mind that our ancestors when pronouncing names would have seem foreign to the person capturing the name; yes phonetic spelling.  A perfect example of this is Cruz which can be spelled as Cruise, Cruse, or Crus.  Keep in mind that our ancestors may or may not have been able to communicate in English and were not the ones populating paperwork.

Ellis Island Passenger List 1892 - 1924 - Use the search fields to customize your search. Start with the "Any" option and enter the island name. This website also leads you to the Ellis Island website to view the original documents.

Spanish American War - 1898 Enlistment - Are you aware that there were Puerto Ricans and other Hispanics that enlisted with the US Military?  If the search window does not yield results then go back to the initial page and at the bottom of the screen, notice that there is a link to digital images. There are over 304 thousand records, click on it and it will lead you to an alphabetical list.  Click on the range want to search.  It does take awhile to load.  However FamilySearch has added a new feature to their website that lets you click and view multiple images and gives you another way of bouncing around their website.  Below is an image of the button; give it a try on the website. The icon changes to a sold box. Jump forward by selecting an image and click on the solid box to zoom into that image.

Passenger Arrival at Atlantic and Gulf Ports 1820 - 1874 - it works like the previous database above but this one has over 1 million digital images and keep in mind that it will have people born in the 1700's which can help in locating that "missing" ancestor.

US Passport Applications 1795 - 1925 -  This collection has over 3 million images and is a treasure since you can find photos of your ancestors. Just remember to flip the page by clicking to view the next image above it; I provided instructions on this on a prior post. At times the application may contain multiple pages.  I have come across Puerto Ricans with images of family when traveling so it isn't just the one individual. This database works just like the ones mentioned above.

In addition to the above, there are many States our ancestors enter in with New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Louisiana, and Florida.  There are many databases available but I have provided those that are available for New York, Florida and Louisiana below. Some have search windows, while others will need for you to manual review the records.  Check out the list below:

Fort Lauderdale Crew Lists 1939-1945
Key West Passenger Lists 1898-1945
Knights Keys Passenger Lists 1908-1912
Pensacola, Passenger Lists 1900-1945
Tampa, Passenger Lists 1898-1945
New Orleans Passenger List 1820 - 1945
New York Passenger 1906 - 1942
New York Passenger 1820 - 1891
New York Passenger 1909 - 1957

In addition to the passenger lists there are passport records for Portugal and Spain, below is a list of these records.  Again some have searchable databases because they have been indexed and others will require you to manually go through the records.  Places like Brazil also have records.  As you can see this website is very valuable to your genealogy research.

Aveiro, Portugal Passport 1882 - 1965
Coimbra, Portugal Passport and Applications 1835 - 1938
Leiria, Portugal 1861 - 1901
Portugal Passport and Applications 1800 - 1946
Cantabria, Spain 1785 - 1863
Cadiz, Spain 1810 - 1866

Note: Spain's PARES has more records going further back, check my prior blog posts to see how to search PARES

If you want to see the entire list then visit their entire list. As always, please find time to help Family Search in indexing records; they depend on volunteers to help them make the databases available to all. I hope that the information I have provided here will help many of you find your ancestors in 2016 and beyond!

Desktop:  To see other blog posts for your island or country, click on the menu that appears at the top right of this post. It will take you to the page containing posts for your island or country.

Mobile Devices (Smartphone & Tablets):  To see other blog posts for your island or country, at the top of the page, click on the "Most Recent Post", a popup menu will appear, select an option. It will take you to the page containing posts for your island or country.