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What are immigrant banks?

I just found out from Marshall Cohen, one of our genealogy club members, just how important immigrant banks can be in your research.  He is letting me share his advice with everyone through The Curious Genealogist.   His two short paragraphs could give you enough information to break down one of your own brick walls.  As you are reading, don’t skip over the last sentence. It is important. It shows that you never know where a connection is going to be made.

Marshall wrote:

I have been using a wonderful resource: The Philadelphia Immigrant Bank. There is an index of this source on Ancestry, but the raw data is held by Temple University. The trick to using it is to find the record via Ancestry and then go to the raw data and find the specific source, reference in hand.

Immigrant Banks were interesting hybrid institutions in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. Immigrants would save their money in dribs and drabs in one of these institutions. Then, when they had accumulated enough for a steamship ticket for a relative’s passage, they would purchase it and send it to someone in Europe. Several of my relatives came through Philadelphia, and the bank records show who has paid how much for the ticket and the address of the payer. All of this has revealed a Philadelphia-Louisville pipeline that originated in Vohlnia Gubernia in the Russian Empire. I’ve been conversing with a woman online who has an Ancestry tree for a particular schtetel. She has documented the connections between families and traced where these people went once they emigrated. This is similar to what I was talking about with my relations from Sudilkov-Shepetovka. Strangely enough some of the people from the woman’s village intermarried with people from my relatives’ villages.

Marshall Cohen

vea/15 April 2016
Newton Free Library
Newton, Mass
Library website:  http://www.newtonfreelibrary.net
Genealogy blog:  https://thecuriousgenealogist.wordpress.com
Genealogy LibGuide:  http://guides.newtonfreelibrary.net/genealogy

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