52 Documents in 52 Weeks #40 – Tietje Westra’s Passenger Manifest

Persons of Interest: Tietje (Tuinstra) Westra and husband Herman Westra
Relationship: Wife of grand uncle and grand uncle

Source Citation: “New York, Passenger Lists,1820-1957,” digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 15 December 2016), entry for Tietje Westra, microfilm series T715, roll 4154, S. S. Volendam, list 4, line 28, image 356-357, page 195. Citing National Archives and Records Adminstration, New York Passenger List (Microfilm M715, 8892 rolls).


The S. S. Volendam, Source: Ancestry image

Document Description: This is a digital copy of the passenger manifest for the ship the S. S. Volendam arriving in the port of New York City on 21 October 1927. The ship departed from Rotterdam on 11 October 1927. It contains information like name, age, nationality, place of birth, place traveling to, and identifying marks. Pages are larger than a standard 8-1/2″ by 11″ paper and were kept in multi-hole binders. The originals are currently stored at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).

Background information on ships’ manifests: As with most documents that are created, some sort of law or regulation drives its creation. Ships’ manifests are no different. The first legislation related to immigrants was the Steerage Act of 1819. This act wasn’t intended to regulate who came into the United States but was intended to improve the conditions under which passengers on ships traveled. Along with having improve traveling conditions, the captains were required to collect and report on the passengers they’d carried on their ship. Thus the beginning of official immigration-related ships’ passenger lists for the United States. (Passenger lists certainly existed before 1819!) The legislation was tweaked over the years and the FamilySearch wiki on immigration has the run down of those items. The Immigration Act of 1893 is the reason the document featured in this post has all the wonderful detail it does. According to the FamilySearch wiki:

“… required that ship manifests now be delivered to an inspector of immigration instead of a customs official.  Manifests were now to be made at the time & place of embarkation rather than at debarkation.  To be included on this manifests were full name, age, sex; married or single; calling or occupation; able to read or write; nationality; last residence; sea port for landing in the US; final destination, if any, beyond the seaport of landing; who paid for the passage; whether in possession of money; whether going to join a relative and his name and address; whether ever before in the United States, and if so when and where; other facts that may cause the passenger to excluded.”

Did you know that there is a whole volunteer organization dedicated to transcribing passenger lists? The Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild (ISTG™) has transcribed passenger lists from the 1600s to the 1900s so that they can be searched. They are diligently working to add to their database and make their lists the most accurate that can be found. I highly recommend visiting them to see what they have to offer.

Another good resource to explore regarding immigrant ancestors is book called They Came in Ships: A Guide to Finding Your Immigrant Ancestor’s Arrival Record by John P. Colletta, Ph.D. and published by the Turner Publishing Company for AncestryPublishing. Mr. Colletta discusses what you need to know and where to find passenger information, information about arrivals prior to 1820, passenger lists since 1820, what to do when your ancestor is not indexed in NARA records, and other resources for exploration. Mr. Colletta has more than 20 years experience and is a seasoned lecturer. He’s frequently a lecturer for the various genealogical societies out here in Arizona.

Document Scans and Transcription: There are three image scans related to Tietje’s passenger manifest entry.

Heading information across top of Tietje’s two sheets:
List 4, Examined and passed for visae.

ALL ALIENS arriving at a port of continental United States from a foreign port or a port of the insular possessions of the United States, and all aliens arriving at a port of said insular possession from a foreign port, a port of continental United States, or a port of another insular possession, in whatever class they travel, MUST be fully listed and the master or commanding officer of each vessel carrying such passengers must upon arrival deliver lists thereof to the immigration officer. The entries on this sheet must be typewritten or printed.

This (yellow) sheet is for the listing of SECOND-CABIN PASSENGERS ONLY. Page 195

S. S. Volendam. Passengers sailing from Rotterdam, October 11, 1927. Arriving at Port of New York, N.Y., October 21, 1927.

passenger-manifest-tietje-westra-p1Left-facing sheet:
1 – No. on List: 28
2 – Head tax status: [blank]
3 – Name in full (family and given):  Westra, Tietje
4 – Age (yrs and mos.): 21
5 – Sex: F
6 – Married or Single: M
7 – Calling or occupation: HOUSEW.
8 – Able to read, language read, write: YES, DUTCH, YES
9 – Nationality: WITHOUT
10 – Race or people: DUTCH
11 – Place of birth (country and city): DUTCH, DRONRIJP
12 – Immigration visa number: 92
13 – Issued at: ROTTERDAM
14 – Date: OCT. 10TH 27
15 – Last permanent residence (country and city): HOLLAND, DRONRIJP

passenger-manifest-tietje-westra-p2Right-facing sheet:
16 – No. on List: 28
17 – The name and complete address of nearest relative or friend in country whence the alien came: FATHER G. TUINSTRA, DRONRIJP
18 – Final destination (state and city): N.J., LITTLE FALLS
19 – Whether having a ticket to such final destination: NO
20 – By whom was passage paid?: HUSBAND
21 – Whether in possession of $50, and if less, how much?: 1
22 – Whether ever before in the United States; and if so, when and where?: NO
23 – Whether going to join a relative or friend; and if so, what relative or friend, and his full name and complete address: HUSBAND H. WESTRA, 61 HARRISON, LITTLE FALLS, N.J.
24 – Purpose of coming to United States:
|  Whether alien intends to return to country whence he came after engaging temporarily in laboring pursuits in the United States : NO
| Length of time alien intends to remain in the United States: ALWAYS
| Whether alien intends to become a Citizen of the United States: YES
25 –  Ever in prison or almshouse or institution for care and treatment of the insane, or supported by charity?  If so, which? NO
26 – Whether a polygamist: NO
27 – Whether an anarchist: NO
28 – Whether a person who believes in or advocates the overthrow by force or violence of the Government of the United States or all forms of law, etc.: NO
29 – Whether coming by reason of any offer, solicitation, promise, agreement, expressed or implied, to labor in the United States: NO
30 – Whether alien had been previously deported within one year: NO
31 – Condition of health, mental and physical: GOOD
32 – Deformed or crippled. Nature, length of time, and cause: NO
33 – Height (Feet | Inches): 5′ 5″
34 – Complexion: FAIR
35 – Color of – Hair | Eyes: BLD and BLUE
36 – Marks of identification: NONE

Heading information across top of Herman’s sheet:
Record on this blank United States citizens of insular possessions of the United States arriving a port of continental United States from a foreign port or a port of the insular possessions of the United States, and such citizens arriving at a port of said insular possessions from a foreign port, a port of continental United States, or a port of another insular possession.

List 1, page 200

S. S. VOLENDAM sailing from ROTTERDAM, October 11th, 1927, Arriving at Port of New York N.Y., October 21st, 1927.

passenger-manifest-herman-westraHerman’s sheet:
No. on List: 1
Name in full (family and given):  Westra, Herman. For wife see man. 4 line 28.
Age (yrs and mos.): 24
Sex: M
Married or Single: M
If native of United States insular possession or if native of United States, give date and place of  birth (city or town and state): 433723 [penciled in]
If naturalized, give name and location of court which issued naturalization papers, and date of papers: County Court of Passaic Cy., Paterson, N.J., June 29th 1927
Address in United States: 61 Harrison, Little Falls, N.J.

Analysis: This manifest is a lesson in paying attention. If you just look at the first page I found on Ancestry, you’d think woot-woot, enter the data, and move onto the next person or task. But you’d be missing out. There are three pieces to Tietje’s listing: a left-facing page, a right-facing page, and Herman’s page. Looking at the heading on the top of the left-facing page is a clue: “LIST OR MANIFEST OF ALIEN PASSENGERS FOR THE UNITED.” United what? States, for sure, but where is the rest of the heading? On the right-facing page, of course. A rushed or frazzled researcher would miss clicking on the next (right-facing page) to check out all the good stuff on the continuation of Tietje’s listing.

Also, there’s a very helpful note by her entry that tells the researcher to look at manifest 1 line 1 to find Tietje’s husband. Why is he not listed with her? Because, at this time, he’s actually a United States citizen! He is listed with all the other citizens on a separate list.screen-shot-2016-12-15-at-7-22-50-pm

Once I’ve found and examined all the information found on these three pages, I can write a short narrative about Tietje’s arrival in America.

As 21-year-old Tietje Westra stepped off the gangway of the S. S. Volendam at the port of New York, New York, on the 21st of October in 1927, she tucked a stray strand of her blonde hair under her kerchief. She hoped that all the wind she’d been exposed to on the 10-day Atlantic voyage hadn’t wreaked too much havoc on her fair complexion. She felt good, both mentally and physically. Her blue eyes widened as she took in the impressive skyscrapers of New York City. This was the first time she’d ever been to America and it was breathtaking. She turned to look at her 24-year-old husband Herman standing next to her. “It’s okay,” he assured her as he put his arm around her 5′ 5″ frame. “We’re on our way home.” Home was at 61 Harrison St. in Little Falls, New Jersey.


New York City skyline, 1913. Source: LOC, http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pan.6a36553

Tietje had left her nearest relative, her father G. Tuinstra, behind in her birthplace (and last residence) of Dronrijp, Holland, when she had boarded the ship in Rotterdam on the 11th day of October with Herman, who was now officially an American. Earlier in the year on the 29th of June, Herman had naturalized and filed his papers at the county courthouse in Passaic County, New Jersey. His American passport, numbered 433723, was tucked securely in his coat pocket along with Tietje’s visa, numbered 92, issued to her in Rotterdam. They didn’t want to lose any of their documents. Since she was married to an American, she was now technically without a nationality. Her race was Dutch but she was reliant on Herman to provide her protection from her alien status in her newly adopted country.

Tietje could read and write in Dutch but learning English was going to be a challenge! Just think of having to shop for all the things she would need to do her housekeeping in New Jersey. It didn’t matter how long it took to learn. She intended to stay permanently in the United States and gain her citizenship. An official on the ship had asked her all sorts of questions regarding her intentions. “No,” she’d answered when he’d asked her if she was polygamist. “No,” to a lot of the questions. She wasn’t an anarchist, didn’t intend to overthrow the United States government, hadn’t been lured with incentives for labor, and had never been in prison. “Let’s collect our trunks and get out of here,” said Herman. And with that, they were off to start their life together in America.

I already had some good genealogical information about Tietje but these documents did fill in a few blanks for me:

  • As listed in the manifest, Tietje’s father was G. Tuinstra. Even having just his first initial is a good clue.
    • The traditional dutch naming convention is as follows:
      • First-born son is named after paternal grandfather
      • Second son is named after maternal grandfather
      • First-born daughter is named after maternal grandmother
      • Second daughter is named after paternal grandmother
      • Subsequent children were often named after uncles and aunts – go wild on this child’s name!
    • Herman and Tietje named their first son John Garry which follow the convention for Herman’s father name “Jan” or John in English.
    • Herman and Tietje named their second son Garry John which would follow the convention if Tietje’s father’s name was Garry. Given his initial is given as “G” on the manifest, this is a great possibility as a first name for him.
    • Side Note: Herman and Tietje name their first daughter Shirley which would follow the convention if Tietje’s mother’s name was Shirley. I highly doubt this, however, because I think movie star Shirley Temple had more to do with this name than Tietje’s mother’s name. Their daughter was born in 1941 and the popularity of Shirley as a first name was huge.
    • screen-shot-2016-12-16-at-12-12-31-pm

      Shirley as a girl’s name. Source: The Baby Center

      If I were intent on finding out Tietje’s parents’ names, I would concentrate on a Garry Tuinstra as her father’s name.

  • Tietje was still living in her birthplace of Dronrijp, Holland, before her journey to America.
  • Tietje was living at 61 Harrison St., Little Falls, New Jersey, in October of 1927. Odds are good that city would be their location in the 1930 census.

The source documents can be considered original records since the physical documents are stored at NARA and the digital images are just straight scans of the documents without changes. When you examine the images, you can see the entire page complete with large black background margins. You’ll notice, I’ve cropped those margins out to save on my black ink and to make it look pretty for blogposts. Additionally, the image show that while some effort was made make sure the page was straight, they weren’t meticulous about it. They’re just a little off-kilter.

The information is a mix of both primary and secondary information. The shipping officials recorded Tietje’s information at the time of her voyage. Primary: Tietje was aware of her age, Herman aware of his age, the official observed what Tietje’s physical characteristics were, and both Herman and Tietje knew where they were headed to live in the United States. Secondary: Tietje birth place and her marital status.

Like the information, the evidence is a mixed bag. The direct (explicit) evidence answers the questions “When did Tietje (Tuinstra) Westra, born in Dronrijp, Holland, first arrive in America; How old was Tietje when she arrived in America; and who was Tietje married to?” The indirect evidence that she was married must be combined with some other source to answer the question about where and when Herman and Tietje were actually wed.

I love typewritten documents. They’re so easy to read. But I do have one item that has me stumped. There is a handwritten notation over Tietje’s entry on the right-facing page which I can’t decipher:screen-shot-2016-12-15-at-7-21-28-pm

I’m guessing it says something about her husband? “Ad to husband….?” Maybe? Someone’s initials at the end? Maybe….


Herman became an American citizen in June of 1927 and shortly thereafter traveled back to Holland in October to help his wife Tietje make the Atlantic voyage to join him in America. The ship that carried them overseas was the S. S. Volendam sailing from Rotterdam and arriving in the port of New York, New York. The passenger manifest required by immigration officials helps to create a short vignette of their arrival and also filled in a few blanks in my Westra family tree database.


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