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I am looking for the ship on which the following party traveled from New York to London in Spring or Summer, 1911:

Charles Jay Foster
Minna Cramer Foster
Marie-Louise Foster
Enid Foster
Minna Van Bergen and Google are only turning up their return voyage aboard the Kaiser Wilhelm II on 27 Sep 1911.

Where else can I look to find this information?

Edit: Though not part of the same party, the following individuals were on the same ship. Hopefully finding them would lead to finding the others:

Charles Ernest Green
Elizabeth "Dolly" Green
Eldridge Risdon Green

Donald Palmer Jadwin
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Aside from lost and mis-indexed lists, the basic issue with the "UK Incoming Passenger Lists, 1878-1960" is that it only covers "ships arriving in the United Kingdom from foreign ports outside of Europe and the Mediterranean". So if your family took a tour and went to France first, before hopping on a ferry to Dover, they won't appear in the UK arrivals. –  AdrianB38 Dec 31 '12 at 23:53
@AdrianB38 I know some ships would stop at ports prior to their final destination of London. Though they would be on the ship that departed from New York, could it not be in that listing for that reason as well? –  fbrereto Jan 1 '13 at 21:14
The "UK Incoming Passenger Lists, 1878-1960" were created for the UK's Board of Trade to document arrivals in the UK. As such, there was no interest at all in someone who boarded the ship in NY (say) and got off in Cherbourg (say) before the ship carried on to the UK. Such people were out of scope, so would not appear on the lists in question. If you like, the essential point is that these are immigration lists, and not passenger lists. (I guess most "passenger" lists are "immigration" lists.) Does this help to explain the limitations??? –  AdrianB38 Jan 2 '13 at 10:33
@AdrianB38 just FYI, the early NY City passenger arrivals that were immigration lists were destroyed in a fire on Ellis Island in 1897. The earlier NY lists from 1840 - 1897 are all Customs House lists (more concerned with the goods people were bringing in, instead of the information required by the immigration services). If anyone is interested, there's a live webinar coming up on May 29th that explains what happened: see "Records Found" Case Studies: How Castle Garden Records Burned in the Ellis Island Fire. –  Jan Murphy May 15 at 22:20
Flippantly - American records do seem to have suffered from combustion! So far as I know the UK's only major records-based fire was the one in WW2 that burnt a huge part of our WW1 Army records. Though the 1922 fire in Dublin was even worse for Irish history.... –  AdrianB38 May 16 at 9:36

3 Answers 3

up vote 3 down vote accepted

One possible line of inquiry would be to focus on the operators of SS Kaiser Wilhelm II, the Norddeutscher Lloyd line (NDL).

My working assumption would be that in the early 1900s, people able to make regular trans-atlantic voyages had a favourite line (or even a favourite ship) which they used repeatedly.

It is possible that the Fosters et al made the easterly crossing on an NDL ship as well. So by finding when the Kaiser Wilhelm (or the SS Kronprinz Wilhelm, or the SS Kronprinzessin Cecilie) made runs from Hoboken to Bremerhaven in 1911, you will have identified a subset of records to search for.

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You might find them in this Ancestry database of UK, Incoming Passenger Lists, 1878-1960:

This database is an index to the Board of Trade’s passenger lists of ships arriving in the United Kingdom from foreign ports outside of Europe and the Mediterranean. Exceptions to this are vessels that originated outside of these areas but then picked up passengers in European or Mediterranean ports en route. The UK port of arrival was not necessarily the final destination of the ship. In addition, the names found in the index are linked to actual images of the passenger lists, copied from The National Archives (TNA) collection series BT26.

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You don't mention where they lived or visited on either side of the journey you know about, so I can't make more specific suggestions about what to try. However, in my own research, I have found clues and references to international travel in City directories, social news columns in newspapers (I've had the most luck on Genealogy Bank, but the success rate for online searching is highly dependent on what area you need and what happens to be online) and in US Passport Applications.

NARA recommends the following search strategies:

To effectively and efficiently use passport application records, the researcher should identify the persons who traveled overseas and the approximate years of travel. The researcher should not automatically assume an individual never traveled overseas, because, as indicated above, foreign travel in the nineteenth century was more common than one might expect.

Since passports were generally valid for two years or less, the researcher should search the indexes covering the individual's entire lifetime because he or she may have submitted several applications. Multiple applications by the same person may provide conflicting, but useful, clues for further research.

See also NARA's caution under "Limitations":

Passports were recommended, but not required, by President Woodrow Wilson's Executive Order 2285 of December 15, 1915, which stated that all persons leaving the U.S. should have passports.

For a presentation about how to find a Passport Application and what you can expect to find in the records, see NARA's YouTube Channel: Passport Applications, 1795-1925.

1911 may be too early to find an application, but that doesn't mean it isn't worth looking. Some of the records are available online via FamilySearch: see United States, Passport Applications (FamilySearch Historical Records) and the companion Known Issues article.

Once you narrow down the possible travel dates, and perhaps find the preferred ship company from later passport applications, sites like The Gjenvick-Gjønvik Archives might yield other clues.

A recent post on the Genealogy Bank blog has a case study with tips on how to search by ship's name: My Ancestor’s Trip to America: Newspapers Tell the Story.

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