Genealogy 101 - Lecture III

Presented by David Norris
Sponsored by the New Hanover County Public Library
February 2008

Your Surname, Immigration Records, Military Records

Your Surname - “Learn About the Family History of Your Surname” is offered by at . Among other things, you can find the origin of your surname; its US distribution in the 1840, 1880, and 1920 censuses; find how many with that name served on each side in the Civil War.

Immigration Records

Federal law didn’t require ship captains to turn in lists of immigrant passengers until 1820. There are some scattered records of passenger arrivals, dating back as far as the Lost Colony (1584-1587) and Jamestown (1607).

A few passenger lists from 1774-1775 for Wilmington survive.

Passenger ships rarely went straight to North Carolina after the Revolution; most immigrants went first to New York, Philadelphia, or another major port.

The New Hanover County Public Library has many useful genealogy books related to immigration during the colonial era.

Some online ship passenger lists:


An extensive list of Virginia resources (including passenger lists), which are useful for finding 17 th and 18 th century Virginians, many of whom have descendants in North Carolina:

“Pilgrim Ship Lists Early 1600s” (includes ships to Jamestown and elsewhere in Virginia, early New England arrivals, and many more links to early ship passenger lists)

Immigrant Servants Database . Includes 8000 names of colonial-era indentured servants.

The Ship List

Olive Tree Genealogy This site offers a spectacular range of free passenger lists from the 17th to 20th centuries. You can search by year of arrival, destination, or departure point.

New Bern: Partial list of Swiss and Palatine immigrants, 1709-1711:

Useful National Archives pages:

Main genealogy page:;

Immigration records page :

Naturalization records:

Passport records: (available through the New Hanover County Library or by subscription) offers many databases relating to immigration, naturalization, and passport applications.

Castle Garden: 10 million records from , the main official US immigration center from 1850-1892:

Ellis Island, the main gateway to American from 1892-1924; their records include names of immigrants, and photos of many passenger ships:

Passenger names are often spelled wrong. Always try alternate spellings; searching by first names; selecting “close matches” or similar options; or “wildcard” searches (i.e., “Sch*” for “Schoenberg”, etc.)

Military Records

Militia records are not centralized like US or Confederate Army records. Good sources are local history and genealogy books in the Main Library; The Colonial Records of North Carolina;; and county pages at

Revolutionary War Records

Daughters of the American Revolution

Loyalists from North Carolina:

Check the DAR Patriot Index (available at the Main Library) for the names of related members and ancestors. You can order a copy of a member’s application paper for $10, which links that member with a Revolutionary War ancestor. has online versions of National Archives collections of Revolutionary War rolls, service records, and pensions.

Heritage Quest (available through the New Hanover County Library) also has online access to Revolutionary War Pension files.

Trevor K. Plante’s article “An Overview of Records at the National Archives Relating to Military Service”, from the Fall 2002 issue of Prologue, is available online at

Civil War Records

National Park Service’s Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System offers a quick search for Civil War ancestors:

The New Hanover County Public Library has the major published resources such as the 15-volume North Carolina Troops 1861-65: A Roster (complete to the 68 th North Carolina so far, it contains detailed unit histories and capsule biographies of each soldier.

The Library also has the essential The War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (128 volumes; known as the “Official Records”) and the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion. These are also available online. Visit “The Essential References for Civil War Research” at for links to online versions of the Army and Navy “Official Records,” and other useful military resources.

The Library of Congress’ Civil War Maps Collection has hundreds of maps, including several detailed maps of Wilmington and New Hanover County.

Confederate or Union Army Service Files; and Union Army Pension Applications are at the National Archives in Washington, DC. You may order them online at A combined service file costs $25.00; a complete Union Army pension file is $75 ($50 pre-Civil War files); an abbreviated “pension packet” is $25. Bounty land warrant application files are $25. is adding the Confederate Service Files from the National Archives microfilm (NC is almost 50% complete). Footnote’s records include units of the Junior and Senior Reserves, which have not been published in the North Carolina Troops series.

Confederate pension files are held by the individual states; see this list:

20th Century US Military Records

WWI and WWII records can be ordered from the National Personnel Records Center, at

WWI Draft Registration Cards, and other 20 th century records, are at

Prepared by David Norris for Genealogy 101 sponsored by the New Hanover Public Library, February 2008

Copyright David Norris 2008