Last fall, I was in London, speaking at RootsTech. To prepare for my talk on Jewish immigration from Eastern Europe to England, I needed to research and focus on a slightly different angle of the immigrant experience. Although I do a fair amount of research regarding Eastern European families who settled in England, much of what I look at is on behalf of families who settled in North America. That is, while part of the family made a larger immigration journey, some family members went to England. Of those who settled in England, some did it deliberately – that was their plan. Others stopped in transit to wait for a ship or to save up money for the rest of the journey, and never continued.
I became very curious and wanted to learn more about the experience of immigrants passing through (or staying) in the U.K. This spring I will have the opportunity to satisfy (or indulge depending on your perspective) that curiosity. Over a 3 week period, I’ll be taking trains and visiting the various ports at which people landed and left. I’ll be going to London, Hull and Grimsby – the ports at which ships from Europe brought immigrants, and then visiting the ports from which they left for their new homes – Southampton, Liverpool and Glasgow. At each of these ports, I’ll be able to visit the maritime museums, and learn something about the difference in immigration experiences and something of the people who stayed and settled in England.
Of course one of the challenges with research about immigrant families are the names they adopted in their new countries. New names generally fit in better with local names and helped an immigrant feel more a part of the new home. Names adopted in England and Scotland were often similar to those adopted in North American, at least in terms of sound, but often the spelling made the names appear to be very different just adding a level of complexity to identifying the correct family.
I’m looking forward to the travel and to sharing in this blog. The blog helps me process my thoughts and reinforces my memories of the trips.