Immigrant guides were often published companies offering passage, either across an ocean or across land. They were used as promotional materials to encourage settlement where the company made an investment. Governments with settlement schemes, such as Canada and Australia, often also produced these guides. No matter who published it, they can give us a great deal of information about the circumstances in which our ancestors relocated; costs, time spent, necessary supplies to bring, and so forth.
These guides typically will not list immigrants or emigrants by name, but you can utilize them for historical context to understand the motivation for the journey as well as the logistics.
This collection contains 60 different titles from around the world.
Utilize these publications alongside passenger lists, naturalization records, border crossings and other materials that reflect movement to gain a better understanding of your ancestor’s experiences.
The Colonist’s Handbooks: Canada produced by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge of Great Britain, gives the advice to emigrants travelling to all territories,
“He will find it very useful to provide himself with a letter of commendation from his clergyman to be presented to any clergyman who may be nearest to the spot in which he settles. A form for such a letter will be found at p. 59 of this book.”
Such letters – following a very standard format – have been preserved through history as family heirlooms and in historic collections. If your family story includes such a letter, understanding the reasoning for it, the suggestions on how it was crafted, and the potential benefits could go a long way in understanding the circumstances of your ancestor (not to mention the potential clue to his religion).
Be sure to look through the publications of interest and simply let yourself read through the pages. Many bits of information can be found throughout the text, and it is oftentimes best understood in context.
Understanding the motivation of why any of these publications were created will assist in recognizing which way the author is leaning… many were created for the benefit of the company, the government, or the immigration scheme and may use very flowery language to describe locations for settlement.