Author of immigration manifest

I'm thinking, and that is always a dangerous thing, about immigration records. We normally cite these records from EE 11.15 as follows

"UK and Ireland, Incoming Passenger Lists, 1878-1960," database with images, Ancestry ( : accessed 28 November 2021), entry for Christopher Heron, age 37, arrived Glasgow, Scotland, 27 September 1899, SS Anchoria.

And everybody is happy. 

But I note on the record it states that the rules for the UK were as in the US, the ship's master was responsible for creating and delivering the manifest to the port authorities. On that page and the final page the ship's master signed this as being a true document. So isn't the creator of that document the ships master?

Why isn't our citation something like:

SS Anchoria master, "Immigration", New York to Glasgow, arrived Glasgow, Scotland 27 September 1899, entry for Christopher Heron, age 37; imaged in "UK and Ireland, Incoming Passenger Lists, 1878-1960," database with images, Ancestry ( : accessed 28 November 2021),

Or am I being to pedantic? 

Submitted byEEon Sun, 11/28/2021 - 18:08

Cryptoref, let's pose the question in a different and more familiar framework. When a county clerk creates a marriage-license record, do we cite the name of the county clerk as the "author" or "creator" of that record—or do we cite the agency that is responsible?  Realistically, we don't know whether it was the county clerk or one of his assistants who helped John Doe when he came in to get the license to marry Mary Smith. Similarly, we don't know whether the person who penned the ship roll was the actual master or the first mate or whoever helped him with clerical tasks.

Agree, that's why I didn't include the name. But the agency responsible was the ship and not the port authority. The port authority is a repository for all of the manifests delivered by the various masters. 

Now this isn't a big deal, but it was just occurring to me that we aren't identifying the agency responsible for the creation of the document. I'd assume that most of those reading this thread are well aware of why names didn't get changed at Ellis Island, that's because the ship master was responsible for turning in an accurate manifest. Not the Ellis island officials. That's the rationale behind my question, and why I "think" it matters, it highlights who really was responsible for that manifest, not the port officials but the ship officials. 

Submitted byEEon Mon, 11/29/2021 - 08:14

Cryptoref, all that is as you say.  But there's another issue with defining the author/creator when the physical creator is acting under the agency of another entity. Can we really say the agency or controlling entity is the ship? The manifest supposedly was created by the master of the ship (pr, alternately, by his clerk). The ship, however, was owned by another entity, rarely by its master. Where would this chain of reasoning end?

Submitted bycryptorefon Mon, 11/29/2021 - 15:00

Well certainly it's turtles all the way down :) I'm not suggesting that we dig all the way down, because, as you imply, madness lies at the end. But the first level seems appropriate, the ship's master is the responsible party and the creator of the document. Yes it's mostly likely the clerk, but the master is responsible. I think that's important to recognize that the manifest came from ship's company. You see some of those manifests that are sorted by name. Surely that was a bored clerk on that month long Atlantic crossing who had nothing better to do. Castle Garden wasn't taking the time to sort.

In other cases, we identify the creator and not the repository, for instance parish records where we identify the parish (and not the priest) but don't name the diocese as creator that held the parish records. 

Again, this isn't a big deal, just my engineer brain trying to come to grips with, what I see, as an inconsistent handling of a creator.

Submitted byEEon Mon, 11/29/2021 - 20:13

cryptoref, in our working notes, we can add to the basic citation anything we feel is helpful, so long as we explain it.