More Ancestors on Board

Ancestors on Board

As reported in an earlier post, an important new research resource was published this year by the UK’s National Archives and findmypast.com. Ancestors on Board will eventually become a record of everyone who sailed out of a British port (including all Ireland to 1921) on long-distance voyages from 1890 to 1960, taken from the records of the Board of Trade. The first tranche of data released covered 1890-1899; now the site covers 1900-1919 as well. So now there are even more opportunities for historians of silent cinema to track the to and from of actors, filmmakers and executives going to America from Britain. You can find young hopefuls Charles Chaplin and Stanley Jefferson (soon to be Stan Laurel) sailing out in 1912 with the Fred Karno troupe, future Hollywood mogul Samuel Goldfish (later Goldwyn) hoping to find his fortune in 1899, and D.W. Griffith and Billy Bitzer returning to America in 1917 after filming scenes for Hearts of the World in Britain. The name search is free, but there is a charge for viewing images of the ships’ lists or transcripts.

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