Though the Internet has made much more genealogy information available, many websites are not easy to use. For that reason Stephen P. Morse created alternate ways of accessing some of these websites. In addition he developed some of his own databases and programs to help you do genealogical research. These are all collected together under the One-Step website.
The name “One Step” was chosen when he developed his first search tool, profiled in my book, which allowed searches through the Ellis Island records. A search done from the ellisisland.org website involves many steps, whereas his search tool can search it all in one step.
The One-Step website has several forms in 12 categories:
1. Ellis Island Search Forms and Ship Arrivals
One of the most important tools for any American genealogist is Morse’s Ellis Island search page. He created three One-Step forms for searching for passengers in the Ellis Island database: the white form, blue form, and gray form. The white form searches all 25 million passengers in the database, the blue form searches only the 1 million Jewish passengers but provides for added search capabilities, and the gray form searches all 25 million with the added capabilities of the blue form but with some other capabilities missing address rather than the name.
This brings up an important concept that Morse calls the One-Step Immigration Triangle:
Searching by Passenger Name (the Ellis Island White, Blue, and Gray forms)
Searching by Ship Arrival (the Ellis Island Ship-Lists tool)
Accessing Manifests directly by Roll and Frame (the Ellis Island Missing-Manifests tool)
2. Castle Garden (and earlier) Search Forms and Ship Arrivals
The Ellis Island processing center was not always there, and prior to it there were other facilities in New York for processing immigrants. There is a One-Step tool to search for passenger names in the Castle Garden Database at castlegarden.org and a trio of One-Step tools (the One-Step Immigration Triangle) for searching the Castle Garden Database at ancestry.com.
3. Other Ports of Immigration
Although a vast majority of the immigrants arrived through the Port of New York, many entered through other ports. Here is a list of some other popular ports during the peak immigration years, and the years for which the records are online:
Baltimore 1820 to 1948
Boston 1820 to 1943
Galveston 1844 to 1954
Philadelphia 1800 to 1945
San Francisco 1893 to 1953
You can use his trio of One-steps for each of these ports.
4. U.S. Census and Soundex
The easiest way to find a person in a census is to search by name. The National Archives has some name indexes but they are neither complete nor online. There are commercial websites that have complete name indexes for the various census years, but require a paid subscription. If you have such a subscription, or your local library allows patrons to use theirs, you can do a name search from the One-Step website and have access to more powerful search features than are available at the commercial website directly.
Barring name index access, the next best thing is to search by address. As the census is not organized by address but by Enumeration Districts (EDs), this can be hard. The One-Step website offers various tools to make this easier.
5. Canadian and British Census
There are several websites that host Canadian and British census data. Below are some Morse has One-Step tools for.
1901 Canada (automatedgenealogy.com)
1901 British (1901censusonline.com)
6. New York Census
New York State conducted its own census many times, usually midway between two federal censuses. The best preserved are the 1905, 1915, and 1925 censuses. These are of great value to genealogists because of the large influx of immigrants during those years, and because so many of those immigrants settled in New York even if only for a brief period.
7. Births, Deaths, and other Vital Records
Vital records (birth, marriage, death) and naturalization records are another very important resource for genealogists. For privacy reasons, you can’t simply fetch a copy of anyone’s birth certificate, but you can use his One-Step forms to see if your ancestors’ data is among some of the databases out there.
8. Calendar, Sunrise/Sunset, and Maps
Calendars are confusing. Morse, who likes physics and other sciences, created this One-Step to help.
9. Dealing with Characters in Foreign Alphabets
One problem that genealogists often face is having to deal with source documents written not only in foreign languages but in alphabets that they do not know. This section of the One-Step website provides tools to make working with these alphabets a little less painful. The specific alphabets covered are Cyrillic, Greek, and Hebrew, as well as all the accentuated characters in the various Latin-based alphabets.
10. Holocaust and Eastern Europe
There are several One-Step tools for accessing databases having to do with the Holocaust period. Some of the underlying websites that hosts the data are in Polish or Russian, so the One-Step tools present an English front end for interacting with those websites.
There is also a detailed page on the One-Step website for the areas of Bereza and Antopol in Belarus, which are my ancestral villages. If your roots are not from that region, then this page will be of little value to you. But if you do come from there, you’ll find a wealth of genealogical information about the towns, including English translations of the towns’ memorial books.
11. Creating your own Search Forms, Search Engines, and Databases
This section of the One-Step website is not for the ordinary genealogist but for the person or organization having a collection of data to share it with the genealogical community.
Under this category are other One-Step tools that don’t fit into any of the above categories. One popular tool allows you to access your collection of bookmarks (or favorites) from any browser and from any computer.