Friday 11 January 2019

FindMyPast transcribes Boston Pilot's Missing Friends ads

A fully indexed transcription of the Boston Pilot Newspaper Information Wanted Ads collection is now available on FindMyPast.

From October 1831 to October 1921 the Boston Pilot newspaper printed a column with advertisements from people looking for lost friends and relatives who had emigrated from Ireland to the United States. These adverts contained details of the missing emigrant's life, typically including the county and parish of their birth, when they left Ireland and the likely or confirmed port of arrival in North America. In addition, some adverts included the person's occupation and other personal information.

The people who placed ads were usually anxious wives, siblings and parents remaining in Ireland, or family members and friends who had themselves emigrated and wanted to reconnect with the earlier arrivals.

More than 40,000 of these adverts were transcribed and published in the multi-volume Searching for Missing Friends: Irish immigrant Advertisements Place in The Boston Pilot 1831–1920, edited by Ruth-Ann Harris, Donald M Jacobs, and B Emer O'Keefe and published by the New England Historic Genealogical Society in 1989, and this is the source of the FindMyPast index which can be searched on multiple fields. Some of FindMyPast's transcription detail is poor, however, and researchers may need to crosscheck the NEHGS's database, where a full transcription of the adverts' texts can be viewed (free with a guest account), in order to decipher some of the FindMyPast transcriptions and correctly gather the story told in the advert.

See below an image from the NEHGS database. Click it to see FindMyPast's transcription and ask yourself if you'd have been able to work out the 'story' told in the advert from the transcript alone?