Everything You Need to Know About the Newest Great Migration Book


We are pleased to announce the recent publication of The Great Migration: Immigrants to New England, 1636-1638 Volume 1, A-Be by Ian Watson, which marks the beginning of the Third Series of the Great Migration Study Project. This volume, now available from the American Ancestors Bookstore, includes 129 detailed biographical sketches of individuals who arrived in New England between 1636 and 1638. 

Could one of your early New England ancestors be included in this new research? Read on to find out everything you need to know about the next phase of the Great Migration Study Project.

What is the Great Migration Study Project? 

Since 1988, the goal of the Great Migration Study Project has been to compile comprehensive genealogical and biographical accounts of the approximately 20,000 English men, women, and children who settled in New England between 1620 and 1640. It was conceived and proposed by project director and expert genealogist Robert Charles Andersen, FASG. After more than three decades of research, the Great Migration Study Project represents a quintessential resource for millions of family historians with ties to early New England. 

What does “Third Series” mean? 

The First Series of the Great Migration Project, published in three volumes beginning in 1995, covered arrivals to New England between 1620 and 1633. This was considered a pilot phase for the project—although it covered two thirds of the timespan of the Great Migration, it only accounted for fifteen to twenty percent of individuals who crossed the Atlantic during these years. 

The Second Series, which covered arrivals during 1634 and 1635, accounted for nearly twice as many individuals as the First Series. This phase of the project produced seven volumes, published between 1999 and 2011. 

At this time, a little less than half of all Great Migration immigrants have been documented by the project. The remaining arrivals have been divided into two segments, which will represent the final two series in the project. The current Third Series will cover the years 1636-1638, and is expected to extend to eleven or twelve volumes. The final Fourth Series, covering 1639-1640, will likely take fewer volumes to complete. 

What’s new and different about the Third Series of the project? 

The Third Series of this project will contain fewer sketches per year of immigration, as compared to the Second Series. This is because the most robust set of surviving passenger lists for the Great Migration cover the years 1634 and 1635—equivalent resources simply do not exist for the years we are now researching. This also means that the Third Series will include far fewer “mini sketches"—entries for names on passenger lists which could not be traced to other New England records, and thus have little to no biographical information available.

You will also notice updates and improvements to the structure of biographical sketches in the Third Series. A new section has been introduced: PREVIOUS RESIDENCIES, which will list all known locations where the individual lived in England—including university education if applicable—rather than merely listing their location just prior to migration. In addition, the COMMENTS section will now include subheadings reflecting the entire sketch's structure, allowing researchers to easily reference notes and further information. 

Sometimes, while researching individuals for this phase of the project, names which should have been recorded as arriving in 1634-1635 are uncovered. Each volume of the Third Series will include an appendix with new and corrected sketches for the previous Series. 

What’s next for the Great Migration Study Project? 

The next volume of the Third Series, covering the remainder of the letter B, will be compiled by Nathan Murphy, FASG, a researcher for Ancestry Pro Genealogists and a Fellow of the American Society of Genealogists. We also have two new volumes in the works which will revise and update sketches from the First Series. Keep an eye out for the first of these, The East Anglian Migration: Immigrants to New England, 1631–1633, coming soon from American Ancestors!

How can researchers access the Great Migration Study Project? 

The Great Migration Study Project is available to members of AmericanAncestors.org as a searchable database. The newest volume has not yet been added to the database. Subscribe to Database News to be the first to find out when new data is available to search! 

You can purchase copies of any volume of the Great Migration Study Project from the American Ancestors Bookstore. Also available is The Great Migration Directory, a concise compendium of immigrants to New England from 1620 to 1640. Browse Great Migration Books 

Want to learn more? Check out our recent free video lecture from Chief Genealogist David Allen Lambert on how the newest Great Migration publication can aid your research. Plus, don't miss our upcoming Winter 2024 issue of American Ancestors Magazine, which will feature an in-depth article from Robert Charles Andersen—including a full list of sketches, and a preview of some of the exciting new discoveries this volume contains. Become a member today to receive a copy of the magazine in your mailbox as soon as it is available!

Thomas Grebenchick

About Thomas Grebenchick

Thomas is responsible for managing and updating existing web content, creating new content, and assisting in digital communications and strategy. Originally from Massachusetts, he holds a B.A. in English from Brandeis University, and has experience in copywriting, web and digital design, and social media marketing.View all posts by Thomas Grebenchick