Welcome to the Ancestry Academy…

September is here and children all over the country are heading back to school. It’s the perfect time to dig out your pencil case and do some learning of your own – in the Ancestry Academy! Whether you’re a new starter or a top set whiz kid, this week’s lessons will help you develop your family history skills and make brand new discoveries.

Wednesday, Third Period, Geography

Immigration records:
Charting your family’s progress

Family history doesn’t just take you back in time – it carries you all over the world as well! Whether your ancestors arrived in Britain from overseas or left our shores for a new life abroad, mapping their journeys will reveal some remarkable and emotional stories.

Teacher’s note: Our UK immigration records are available to Premium and Worldwide members, while our overseas immigration records are exclusive to Worldwide members. You may need to upgrade your membership to complete these lessons.

Too easy? Join the Top Set
Take the advanced lesson

New starters

Our UK immigration records reveal Jews fleeing Russia and Germany, West Indians finding new homes after World War II and millions of other arrivals over three centuries. We’ll show you how you can trace an ancestor’s arrival, then discover how their life progressed.

Let’s say our grandmother was Ruth Milward – a South African who arrived in this country as a child around the turn of the century. We don’t know anything else about her side of the family – let’s see what we can discover…

  1. Too easy?

    1Our first port of call has to be UK Incoming Passenger Lists, 1878-1960. This collection reveals millions of passengers on boats arriving from all over the world. Search for the name Ruth Milward, with a guess of 1900 for the arrival year, and South Africa for the departure location. There are a number of later results – these could even be the same person returning from visits home. However, the top match, on 22nd February 1901, appears to be Ruth’s initial arrival.

  2. Too easy?

    2Click to view the image, then scroll down the page to find Ruth’s entry. She was listed as between 1 and 12 years old, born in Natal and arriving in Southampton. What’s far more exciting, though, is that she wasn’t alone. You can see four other Milwards: an infant named Victor; another child recorded as ‘Master W E A’; an unnamed adult woman and a ‘Revd W B’. This must be Ruth’s family – we’ve found our great aunt and uncle, and discovered that our great-granddad was a reverend!

  3. Too easy?

    3As the family arrived in early 1901, they’re likely to be on that year’s census. Go to the 1901 England Census and again look for Ruth Milward. For her birthplace simply use South Africa, and under Family Member choose sibling, and type the first name ‘Victor’. You’ll get one obvious result – in Great Torrington, Devon. Reassuringly, the father’s name is Walton B, which matches the ‘Revd W B’ on the passenger list.

  4. Too easy?

    4View the image to see a long list of Milwards. We’ve hit the jackpot – three generations of our family in one place. Ruth herself was two years old, while Victor was just eight months, and a second brother William was five. Mother Mary and father Walton are there, as is an aunt Annie. Perhaps best of all, though, you can see Ruth’s grandparents – our 2x great-grandparents – William and Eliza. William was also a minister, and both of them were born in Worcester – so the family actually has roots in the Midlands.

  5. Too easy?

    5Let’s return to UK Incoming Passenger Lists, 1878-1960, and check on those other Ruth Milwards. We now know that our grandmother was born around 1899 in South Africa, and obviously we can also use South Africa as the departure. You’ll see a number of matches, from 1909 right up to 1955. It looks as though Ruth continued to visit South Africa for many years.

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Take the advanced lesson

Are you finished? Start the next lesson


It’s always worth looking at the original records, to see what extra details you can turn up. Explore these other entries in the passenger lists for Ruth Milward. You should be able to find another brother who wasn’t in the earlier records. What’s his name?

Note down the answer and keep it safe until the end of the week – you’ll be tested on your responses on Friday!



Monday's free period

Prize Draw 1

Family Tree Maker

Win 1 of 10 copies of our latest software

Be one of the first people to get your hands
on the new and improved version of our award-winning family history software. It comes complete with improved integration with your Ancestry.co.uk account, advanced charts and reports, interactive timelines and maps, and many more great new features.
We have ten copies ready to be won.

Enter the prize draw

Closing date 30th September

Tuesday’s free period

Prize Draw 2

WDYTYA? magazine

10 subscriptions up for grabs

Trace your family's past and discover your roots with Who Do You Think You Are? magazine. Brought to you by the team
behind BBC History Magazine, and the
official companion to the successful TV
series, WDYTYA? magazine's features
range from military to social history, telling
the stories of ordinary and extraordinary people and how they used to live. We have ten subscriptions to give away.

Enter the prize draw

Closing date 30th September

Wednesday’s free period

Prize Draw 3

Worldwide Memberships

Win 1 of 5 annual memberships

Our worldwide membership provides everything you need to trace your family history around the world. Scour the globe
with unlimited access to our entire library
of over 7 billion records, plus guaranteed access to all our new releases. We have
five annual memberships to give away.

Enter the prize draw

Closing date 30th September

Thursday’s free period

Prize Draw 4

National Trust passes

Win 1 of 50 pairs of tickets

We’re working with the National Trust to preserve our nation’s history, and help you uncover your family’s place in it. To
celebrate our partnership, we’re giving away 50 pairs of day passes to the National Trust property of your choice. Don’t miss the
chance to experience the history of Uppark, see the beauty of Fountains Abbey, or visit another of the Trust’s 350 properties.

Enter the prize draw

Closing date 30th September