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Migration to New Worlds

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Full Description

Concentrating on the period 1800 to 1924, otherwise known as the ‘Century of Immigration’, Migration to New Worlds covers all aspects of the migration experience, from departures to arrival and permanent settlement. To supplement this, the collection includes exceptional early material such as the first emigration 'round robin' from 1621 and letters from late eighteenth century merchants and travellers in the United States. Some later material is also available, including ocean liner and immigration depot photographs from the mid-twentieth century.

The resource  presents an insight into the personal stories of migrants during this period. Letter collections, travel journals, diaries and oral histories provide a wealth of first-hand accounts for research into emigration experiences and the hardship of settlement. These are supplemented by scrapbooks, government papers, hand-drawn maps, watercolours, objects, emigration pamphlets, shipping papers and rare printed material which provide context to the history of migration, legislation and living conditions during this period.

Material on the movement of Indian and Chinese indentured labourers is included within CO 384, digitised from the National Archives, UK. The complete War and Colonial Department and Colonial Office: Emigration Original Correspondence files cover both the emigration and remigration of indentured labourers and all printed material is fully text-searchable. Printed extracts from early files have been separated out to ensure full-text searching is available.


Includes material from the following Source Archives:

  • American Antiquarian Society

41,278 images – Rare printed books from 1820 to 1920 on how America was shaped by immigration. Includes the Annual Reports of the Commissioners of Emigration of the State of New York, 1851-1874

  •  British Library

17,364 images – Pamphlets and handbooks providing helpful advice for the growing number of families emigrating from Great Britain to the United States, Australia (particularly Tasmania) and New Zealand between 1800 and 1870.

  •  California Historical Society

10,548 images – Principally concerned with Asian migration from the turn of the nineteenth century. Letters, diaries and printed pamphlets on Chinese and Japanese migration into the United States. Other key material includes:

William Hubert Burgess Letters and Miscellany, 1851-1899.

John A. Robinson Papers, 1909-1936.

  • Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, Halifax

188 images – Photographs show the process of immigration in action, with English, Italian, German, Dutch and Eastern European passengers arriving in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

  • Glenbow Museum

7,478 images – Manuscript diaries and letter collections of Canadian immigrants. Key highlights include:

Alexander Begg Letters, 1843-1914.

Wood Family Fonds, 1886-1906.

Miles, Hanlan Family Fonds, 1892-1908.

  • Historical Society of Pennsylvania

27,548 images – Manuscript correspondence and business papers from Irish, German, Italian, Japanese and other European immigrants in the Philadelphia area. Key highlights include:

French Benevolent Society of Philadelphia Records, 1804-1977.

Shigezo and Sonoko Iwata Papers, 1942-1991.

  • Liverpool Record Office

7,455 images – Letter books from the Medical Officer of Health for Liverpool 1849-1879 make up a key part of this collection, along with nineteenth century watercolours of the port and its surroundings from the W. Herdman Collection.

  •  Maritime Museum of San Diego

2,173 images – Logbooks from the Euterpe (later renamed Star of India) 1884-1923.

  •  Maritime Museum of Tasmania

186 images – Collected objects, photographs, diaries and correspondence connected with the emigrant trade to Tasmania.

  •  National Museums Liverpool: Maritime Archives and Library

15,572 images – Bringing together first-hand accounts from emigrant passengers leaving Liverpool for Australia, New Zealand, America and Canada. Key highlights include:

Business Papers of the Black Ball Line of Australia, 1860-1868.

Papers of Ismay and the White Star Line, 1870-1913.

Shaw Savill & Albion Co. Papers, 1844-1951.

Ship Plans, 1860-1931.

McRoberts Collection, 1840-1970.

  •  Museum of Victoria

3,054 images – Printed material, letters and travel journals are supplemented by objects and photographs concerning the emigration of families to Australia.

  • The National Archives

121,145 images – Comprising the complete CO 384 ‘War and Colonial Department and Colonial Office: Emigration Original Correspondence’ series (1817-1896) and MT 32/1-12 ‘Surgeons Journals Relating to Convict Ships’ (1858-1867)

  •  Robert Opie Collection

65 images – A collection of pamphlets from 1924-1925 advertising Australia and Canada to men and women as attractive destinations for emigration, including Australia Invites the British Domestic Girl and Farming Industries for Small Holders in Australia.

  •  Tenement Museum, New York

2,411 images – Objects, documents, oral histories and photographs showing the living conditions of immigrant communities in the Lower East Side during the late 1800s and early 1900s.

  •  University of Sussex

360 images – Printed copy of The English Notebooks by Nathaniel Hawthorne.


More information on the nature and scope of the resource can be found on the Publisher's website: Adam Matthew Digital.

Because it is funded by Jisc, access to this resource is free for higher and further education institutions in the UK.

Publisher's selection policy

Content was selected through an in-depth process of editorial review and hands-on assessment, and in consultation with archivists, academics and librarians.

Backfiles or archives included

Collection highlights include:

  • Oath of allegiance signed by Walloons, 1574-1600. One of the earliest 'round robin' documents in the world, this paper requested permission from the English Ambassador to The Hague for a group of Huguenot Protestants to found a protestant colony in Virginia and escape religious persecution.
  • Printed books and rare pamphlets on Chinese and Japanese immigration into the United States, particularly discussing the exclusion debates.
  • Papers of John Taylor Wood (1830-1904). Wood began his career as a US naval officer, but resigned at the outbreak of the American Civil War and served in the Confederate Army. He settled in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1865 and joined the Mounted Police, serving in the Yukon during the Klondike Gold Rush.
  • Letter books of the Medical Officer of Health for Liverpool, 1849-1879 are made up of correspondence from Liverpool's first three Medical Officers of Health; Dr William Henry Duncan (1805-1863), Dr William Trench (1810-1877) and Dr John Stopford Taylor.
  • Complete CO 384 ‘War and Colonial Department and Colonial Office: Emigration Original Correspondence’ series from the National Archives UK, discussing emigration to Canada, Australia and New Zealand, along with the use of indentured Indian and Chinese labour in the West Indies.
  • A letter from English emigrant George Massingham describing the shipwreck of the Netherby (Black Ball Line) in 1866 which provides a fascinating account of coping with catastrophe and the perils of a long voyage.
  • The McRoberts Collection, c.1840-1970 documents some of the most famous shipping lines to carry emigrant traffic to the Americas and Australasia. SS Titanic, SS Olympic, SS Great Eastern and SS Ionic are captured along with shipping from the Allan Line, Cunard Line, White Star Line, Dominion Line, Red Star Line and Shaw, Savill and Albion Line, to name a few.
  • Full-sized rigging, deck, sail and cabin accommodation plans for ships belonging to the Cunard Line, American Line, Allan Line, British and African Steam Navigation Company, Inman Line, Guion Line and White Star Line.