Book General Admission

Emigrants Exhibition

two posters from the 1900s

Follow the emigrant journey through the following four themes in our Emigrant exhibition; 

People and Places

Delve into the lives of the many different brave and ambitious individuals who emigrated with a closer look at their social class and religious denominations. Learn about the successes and failures of some of the hundreds of thousands of people who left Ulster for North America between 1700 and 1900. Disappointingly, some of the early success stories involve the possession of enslaved persons.

Failure and Opportunity 

Explore the reasons people left their friends, family and everything they'd ever known to embark on a journey into the unknown. Factors such as the Great Famine and down turns in trade saw many leave Ulster shores during the 1700s and 1800s, encouraged by letters sent from family and friends who had already made the move to America. 

Transport and Migration

During the years of early migration, the first steps to leaving Ulster involved a long walk to the port or a horse and cart ride if you could afford it. From there, many would embark on the long and dangerous 3,000 mile crossing of the Atlantic Ocean. Over time, transport evolved and railways replaced the wagon and the ocean could be crossed in less that 14 days by iron steam ships. Experience what this journey would have been like for our brave emigrant ancestors. 

Survival and Prosperity 

Discover what happened upon arrival in America. What was the 19th and 20th century political scene like in America, and how did this impact the life of the emigrant?

North America was not an open country as the map might portray, but was actually fully populated by Indigenous People. The Indigenous population at the time was dwindling due to skirmishes with settlers and new European diseases. Once white colonists made secure settlements in Virginia and New England they started to spread out. The settlers used treaties, drawn up by white courts, to take land from Indigenous People. The treaties were very generous to the white settlers, often unfair to Indigenous people, and sometimes the treaties were broken by settlers as they wanted even more gains. Since tribes were all unique they were unable to unite to fight the encroachment.

Early Ulster migrants made new homes in this different environment, carving out successful lives for themselves and their families. Some of the richest settlers showed their wealth in the number of enslaved persons that they owned.