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Friday, July 1, 2011

Figuring Out Manifest Markings on Ships Passenger Lists

Kristen had a great question
I am looking for some help on my great-grandfather Guy Reginald Austen Bolam.

He was born in 1900 in England, traveled back and forth between the US and England much of his life, and died in the US in 1970. His father was William Austen Bolam (AKA Austin Bolam or Cecil Austen Bolam) who was born in England around 1871 and died in 1955 in Florida. We are unsure of who his mother was.

My specific question is regarding the passenger record for his August 20, 1921 arrival in New York at Ellis Island on the ship "Aquitania." There are several notations on his and his wife Helen's entry in the original ship manifest, including those in the Head Tax column and several other places. Could you tell me what these notations mean? (I found this ship's manifest on

Also, it is listed on this same ship's manifest that he previously entered the country in 1905 and 1921. While I have found an entry in 1919 (which I assume to be the stated 1921 entry), I cannot find the 1905 arrival. Do you have any suggestions?

Ask Olive Tree Genealogy Response: Kristen you've done some good researching and analyzing of the records you found for your great grandfather. Manifest markings are difficult.

You might want to check the glossary on Jewish Gen as it shows two of the markings beside your great grandpa's name:

C.L. = Certificate of Landing
USC = United States Citizen

A certificate of landing was pretty much the same as a Certificate of Arrival and was noted on passenger manifests after 1926 as part of the naturalization process.

I'm afraid I don't know what the numbers 3/24099-EF refer to  but I'm willing to bet it's a case file reference of some sort.

Tips for finding the 1905 voyage referred to are probably ones you already know:

* Use wildcards such as B*l*m* for Bolam and variants
* Don't use a first name
* Use a date of birth plus/minus 5 years
* Don't use any names, just use place of birth and date plus 1905 as year of arrival

Just keep playing around with a less and less restrictive search to widen the possibilities. Oh and don't forget that it's possible he arrived at a port city other than New York.

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