|Daily Witness, Montreal. Monday June 9, 1913|
"I looked up the weather on the exact date that my Irish ancestor arrived at Ellis Island to better imagine what her arrival was like. Turns out record-setting heat wave, poor Irish lass. I used an online local newspaper to get the weather report."
I love that Dan did this. What a super idea to put more personality into our ancestor's lives. When we add a tidbit of detail to an event that affected an ancestor, we take that ancestor from being a cardboard cutout of a name and date, to a living breathing person just like us.
What are some tidbits you might look for, and add, to the story of your ancestor during a specific event? Here are some ideas based on an ancestor's immigration:
- the weather that day
- the season
- what type of clothing he or she might have been wearing
- a historical fact (was there a war going on, a political event, or anything of historical importance?)
- a description of the ship he/she sailed on
- find a description of the port of arrival and the port of departure
- find out how your ancestor would have gone on from the port of arrival to the final destination
- look for an ad in the newspapers in the origin country for the ship your ancestor took - there may be ticket prices noted
- how long was the voyage - check the first page of the ship manifest as that information is usually noted there
- how old was the ship - often you can find details of when and where it was buiilt, and more
Of course after reading Dan's tweet, I rushed off to try to find out what the weather was the day my maternal grandparents arrived in Quebec on 9 June 1913 at 8:10 p.m. I had previously found an ad for their journey, information on the ship, and so on, but had never thought to find out what the weather was that day. It's not always easy to access Canadian newspapers but I managed to find one for Montreal on that date. Granddad and Grandma's ship landed first in Montreal then went on to Quebec so I added the weather report (Fair and Cool) to their story.
There was even a report on the front page that snow had fallen in Montreal that day! My poor grandmother must have been horrified.
Have fun! It's your opportunity to make your ancestor come alive.