Stephen P. Morse, San Francisco

1. Combining Ellis Island Search Results

Many users are interested in obtaining a list of all the people that came from their shtetl and then posting the list somewhere so that they can share it with others researching the same shtetl.  However the searches give results 50 passengers at a time so there needs to be some means of combining all these results together.

All too often people attempt to combine the final result into a spreadsheet, and for the life of me I can't understand why.  There are much better ways to present the town data.  The best in my opinion would be in html itself, which is the native language of the web.  Below are instructions for generating an html file that contains the results.  This is not for the novice -- in order to do this you will need to be somewhat "computer literate" and know how to do basic things like creating files and cutting-and-pasting information.  You'll also need access to a server on which to upload the final result.  If you don't know how to do these things, then don't attempt this project.

The instructions below are for Windows operating systems.  If you are running on something else, such as a mac, you'll have to know how to make the necessary adjustments to my instructions.

1. From a DOS prompt type "notepad results.html".  This will put you into a text editor.  You are going to be creating a file and will be pasting the results of all the searches into this file.

2. Go to the white or gold search form and enter a town name.  Enter the letter 'A' for the last name.  Then press the SEARCH button.

3. When results appear, go to the VIEW menu and click page source (gold form only) or press the View-Source button at the bottom of the results page (white form only).  You will then see text of the form:

   <html><head><title> ...
   <body><center><table ...
   <tr><td></td> ...
   <tr bgcolor= ...><td>...</td>...  (50 lines like this -- these are the passengers)
   </table><br>Passenger records ...

4. Using the mouse and mouse button, highlight the first three lines and press control-C.  That will copy those lines onto the clipboard.  Then go to the text editor window and do control-V.  That will paste these lines into the file you are creating.

5. Similarly copy and paste the 50 passenger lines that start with "<tr bgcolor="

6. Do *NOT* copy and paste the line that starts with </table>

7. Repeat steps 2, 3, and 5 for the next 50 passengers and keep continuing until there are no more left.  Do not repeat step 4 each time -- that step should only be done the first time.  Then repeat for the other letters of the alphabet.

8. After you have finished, type the following line at the end of the file you are creating:


9. While still in the text editor, go to the FILE menu and select SAVE.  You have now finished creating your results file.

10. Go to your browser and type the location of the file you just created into the address line.  You should then see all your results displayed.

11. It might turn out that your total results are too big to fit into one file.  In that case break it up into several files.

12. If you want to be a perfectionist, you can go through the files with notepad and fix up the following:

Delete any entries for towns that crept in because they sound like the one you want but are obviously not the right town.

Modify the bgcolor= ... found on each passenger line so that it alternates between bgcolor="99cccc" and bgcolor="ccffff".  That way you will have the colors alternate from line to line and no two adjacent lines will have the same color.  Otherwise, due to the deletions and concatenations that you have done, you might have some adjacent lines with the same color.

Because of the deletions and concatenations, the numbers at the beginning of each line are not sequential.  Modify the number appearing between the <td> and </td> at the start of each passenger line so that they are sequential.

Second Thoughts:

You are no longer restricted to 50 results per search.  You can set that value to whatever you want.  So you might want to use a larger value when compiling such a list.

Also you are no longer restricted to searching for surnames starting with a specific letter but can go through all letters of the alphabet in one search.  However your searches will be quicker if you do restrict them to specific starting letters.  If you chose to go through all the letters at one time then you would do the following: in step 2 you would leave the last name field blank, and in step 7 you would not need to repeat for other letters of the alphabet.