For nearly a century, the Boston Pilot served as a beacon for Irish immigrants seeking information on loved ones they had lost contact with. Between 1831 and 1920, more than 45,000 advertisements were placed in the newspaper by recent immigrants looking for family who had come over earlier, by relatives back in Ireland, or by families seeking information on people who had moved elsewhere in the U.S. looking for employment.
Ruth-Ann Harris, Donald Jacobs, and Emer O’Keefe extracted these advertisements from issues of the Pilot for their multivolume work Searching for Missing Friends: Irish Immigrant Advertisements Placed in The Boston Pilot 1831–1920. This database includes indexed images of those extracts.
What You Can Find in the Records
The advertisements are particularly helpful to family historians because they often include details like the immigrant’s town of origin in Ireland, immigration details, and names of extended family. Additionally, they may mention relationships, military service, occupations, and addresses of parties requesting information.
Because of the popularity of the “missing friends” advertisements, submissions were received from well beyond Boston, and queries were made about immigrants living all over the U.S.