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Migration to New Worlds: The Century of Immigration

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Professor John Belchem,
Professor of History at the University of Liverpool

Professor David Fitzpatrick,
Professor of Modern History, Trinity College Dublin

Dr Anthony James Hammerton,
Emeritus Scholar, La Trobe University

Rona Hollingsworth,
Curator, Maritime Museum of Tasmania

Roger Kershaw,
Head of Military, Maritime, Transport and Family History at the National Archives, UK

Professor Andrew Linn,
Professor of the History of Linguistics, University of Sheffield

Dr Moya McFadzean,
Senior Curator, Museum Victoria

Paul Milner,
Federation of Genealogical Societies

Dr Matteo Pretelli,
Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Italian Studies, University of Warwick

Dr Kevin Sheehan,
Collections Manager, Maritime Museum San Diego

Professor Jacob L. Vigdor,
Daniel J. Evans Professor of Public Affairs, University of Washington

Professor William Van Vugt,
Professor of History at Calvin College


  • American Antiquarian Society

  • British Library

  • California Historical Society

  • Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21

  • Glenbow Museum

  • Grosse Île (Parks Canada)

  • Historical Society of Pennsylvania

  • Liverpool Record Office

  • National Museums Liverpool: Maritime Archives & Library

  • Maritime Museum of Tasmania

  • Maritime Museum of San Diego

  • Museum Victoria

  • The National Archives, UK

  • Robert Opie Collection

  • Tenement Museum, New York.


The resource features a wide range of different document types, including:

  • Advertisements

  • Correspondence

  • Diaries

  • Ephemera

  • Financial papers

  • Government papers

  • Immigration papers and travel documents

  • Leaflets and pamphlets

  • Legal documents

  • Maps

  • Newspapers, magazines and periodicals

  • Notebooks

  • Objects

  • Oral histories

  • Posters

  • Postcards

  • Printed books

  • Prints, paintings, engravings, illustration and sketches

  • Photographs

  • Scrapbooks

  • Sheet music

  • Ship plans

  • Shipping logs

  • Shipping line papers

  • Statistics

  • Travel journals

  • Watercolours


Migration to New Worlds documents the emigration of peoples to the United States, Canada and Australasia during the ‘century of immigration’. Much of the material relates to the period 1800 to 1924, however, there are documents from the eighteenth century and also later material included.

Mainly focusing on European emigration, the resource includes material on English, Scandinavian, Irish, Italian, Jewish, Polish and Scottish experiences along with a wealth of material covering Chinese and Japanese movement to the United States.

The majority of the collection comprises unique manuscript correspondence, diaries and travel journals, providing eye-witness accounts and experiences of emigrants across the World. Highlights of the collection include:

  • Complete CO 384 classmark from the National Archives, UK: Emigration Original Correspondence from the War and Colonial Department and Colonial Office

  • Canadian emigration pamphlets, with particular encouragement for women to emigrate

  • Watercolours of the port of Liverpool and surrounding area from the late nineteenth century

  • Surgeons’ journals relating to convict ships

  • Photographs of arrivals and port organisation at Pier 21, Halifax, Canada

  • Business papers of the Black Ball Line of Australia, the Ismay Line, White Star Line, Shaw Savill & Albion Co. and Inman Steamship Company among others

  • Logbooks of the Euterpe/Star of India emigrant ship

  • Letter from emigrant passenger George Massingham describing the wreck of the ship Netherby

  • McRoberts Collection of ocean liner photographs from 1860 onwards

Some of the themes covered include:

  • Pull and push motives for emigration
  • Assisted migration schemes
  • Social conditions and organisation in ports of emigration
  • Ships and shipping lines involved in emigration
  • Shipwrecks
  • Conditions on board ship for different social classes
  • Opportunities for immigrants at ports of arrival
  • Government legislation for emigration and immigration
  • Settlement, naturalisation and choice of location
  • Exploitation of immigrants
  • Maintaining identities
  • Quarantine, disease and epidemics
  • Forced migration, including the transportation of convicts
  • Reverse migration
  • Immigrant business interests
  • Reactions to immigration from local populations
  • Crime and violence towards immigrants


  • Interactive features showing: tenement housing, an emigrant ship and a quarantine station
  • Ship plans
  • Contextual essays
  • Interactive map
  • Visual galleries
  • Online exhibitions
  • Oral histories