Nature and Scope


Migration to New Worlds explores the movement of peoples from Great Britain, Ireland, mainland Europe and Asia to the New World and Australasia.

This first module concentrates on the period 1800 to 1924, otherwise known as the ‘Century of Immigration’ and 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. This will be expanded on in module two, The Modern Era, due for release in 2017.

Migration to New Worlds: The Century of Immigration presents a unique 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 significant context to the history of migration, legislation and living conditions during this period.

Significant 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 searchability is available.

Migration to New Worlds also includes a new feature allowing detailed full size ship plans to be navigated without losing sense of scale.

Unique primary sources cover the following themes:

Documents digitised in full colour include:Philadelphia and Liverpool Line of Packets. Copyright Liverpool Record Office
  • Personal accounts revealing the conditions on board ship and the process of settlement.
  • Manuscript correspondence from individuals and families with loved ones at home describing early emigration experiences and setting up home.
  • Shipping papers and logbooks charting the evolution of shipping lines and including the logs of the Euterpe/Star of India and various convict ships to Australia during the 1860s.
  • Ship plans of various vessels used by migrants during the Victorian era.
  • Rare printed books discussing the history of migration for many nationalities.
  • Leaflets and pamphlets giving hints to emigrants, advertising emigration and discussing anti-immigration, particularly towards Asian migrants in the US.
  • Scrapbooks documenting the emigration experiences of individuals and philanthropists.
  • Legal papers and travel ephemera such as tickets of passage, luggage tags and certificates of vaccination. 
  • Photographs of migrant families, ocean liners, homesteads and ports of departure.
  • Objects from tenement houses and related to migrant families.
  • Maps of newly colonised territory in Canada, Australia and new railroad routes.
  • Nineteenth century watercolours of the port of Liverpool.


Oral Histories

Included in Migration to New Worlds: The Century of Immigration are oral histories from the Tenement Museum, New York. The interviews were all conducted between 1989 and 1992 and tell the stories of ex-residents of 97 Orchard Street, a tenement building on the Lower East Side, New York which now houses the Tenement Museum.

The residents speak of their childhood in the building and include a wealth of detail on street life, schooling, family customs and traditions, religious festivals (particularly Jewish), neighbour relations and community spirit. They provide a unique insight into what life was like for new immigrants from Italy and Eastern Europe in the densely packed tenements of New York.

Language and Terminology

Every care and attention has been paid to preserve the historic authenticity of these documents which range widely in date from the early seventeenth century to the mid-twentieth century. Any terminology that may be deemed discriminatory or offensive by present-day principles may have been preserved for the historic accuracy and relevance to that particular document.

Interactive and secondary teaching aids:

  • The migration map charts immigration and emigration to the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand over time.
  • Explore the layout and objects from two tenement apartments in the Tenement Museum, New York.
  • View specially commissioned photographs of the Star of India and discover how she would have looked as a Victorian emigrant ship.
  • Discover the history of Grosse Île, Canada's nineteenth century quarantine station.
  • A fully searchable visual gallery of photographs, watercolours, illustrations, objects and maps.
  • Contextual essays written by leading academics and collection specialists.
  • Family biographies of tenement residents from 97 Orchard Street, Lower East Side, New York.
  • Biographies of immigration agents and key diplomats managing emigration traffic during the Victorian era.
  • Carefully selected external links to aid research.
  • Popular searches providing key people, ports, ships and keywords found within Migration to New Worlds: The Century of Immigration.