Maria D'Ingeo's family lived in Italy. After her mother died, her father wanted to move the family to America, but while they were crossing, the quota was filled and the boat was turned away. They ended up in Brazil, where they lived for several years before continuing their journey and arriving in New York.
I began looking for their records years ago. Passenger manifests showed them arriving in New York in 1917.
What's wrong with this picture?
The United States didn't impose quotas on European immigration until 1921, and the first permanent quotas were enacted by the Johnson-Reed Act in 1924. These were in place until the Hart-Cellar Act abolished them in 1965.
Now, I don't actually know if a filled quota meant that ships would change course mid-voyage; it seems unlikely. That is another bit of historical knowledge that I should acquire. But I can guarantee you it didn't happen to the D'Ingeos, because I know enough about US immigration history to know that they wouldn't have encountered quotas at all.
Understanding the historical context in which your ancestors lived can sometimes make all the difference when it comes to verifying family lore, finding their documents, and, most importantly, understanding their stories.
How has your historical knowledge helped you research your family's roots? What areas do you need to learn more about?