Ellis Island and Castle Garden Immigration Records

July 26, 2018  - by 

Do you have US immigrants among your ancestors? What experience did they have when they first reached America? Were they met with a bustling city, swindlers and thieves, or a hearty welcome? For many early immigrants, New York was the choice gateway into America, the “Golden Door.” Whether your ancestors simply arrived at New York harbor in America’s earliest days, passed through Castle Garden Depot from 1855–1890, or underwent inspection at Ellis Island (from 1892–1954), your ancestors’ immigration records hold lots of clues about who they were, why they came, and what experiences they had.

Search Castle Garden New York Passenger Lists (1820–1891)
Search Ellis Island Passenger Lists (1892–1924)
Search New York, New York Passenger and Crew Lists from 1925–1957

Castle Garden: Immigration Before Ellis Island

Before the government took control of immigration, Castle Garden was New York’s landing depot.

How did immigrants enter the US before Castle Garden and Ellis Island?

When Did Immigration Start at Ellis Island?

Millions of immigrants came through Ellis Island after it opened. Why did it replace Castle Garden?

When and why did Ellis Island open and close?

The Immigration Act of 1924 and Ellis Island

How did the Immigration Act of 1924 impact US immigration and lead to the close of Ellis Island?

When did Ellis Island close?

What Were Castle Garden and Ellis Island?

The United States of America offered political and religious freedom, economic opportunities, and a place for families to unite, drawing waves of immigrants beginning in the 1600s. The hope for a new life and the American dream promised a better life, and thousands made the journey to make the US their home.

With so many travelers, many fell ill on overpacked ships. To protect US citizens and immigrants alike, the State of New York opened America’s first immigration station at Castle Garden. Once a military fort on its own artificial island, Castle Garden is now part of the island of Manhattan. More than 8 million people landed here before entering America. The site has also been used as an exhibition hall, as an aquarium, and it is now a national monument.

A Dutch family of immigrants that passed through the Ellis Island immigration station. Who were the immigrants that passed through the Ellis Island immigration station? When did immigrants go through Ellis Island and Castle Garden immigration stations?

Floating beneath the copper gaze of the Statue of Liberty in the Upper New York harbor, Ellis Island is America’s first federal immigration station. A national monument with a well-earned place in the history books, Ellis Island replaced Castle Garden as the immigrant landing hub in 1892. From its early origins as a profitable fishing spot to its significant role as a military fort and then immigration station, Ellis Island is a rich source of history, genealogical records, and immigration information. Around 12 million immigrants were processed at Ellis Island at its peak period between 1892 and 1954.

Ellis Island Time Line

Use the Ellis Island time line below to learn the major events that shaped this famous island.

A brief history of Ellis Island immigration, including the castle garden, the first ellis island immigration station, the ellis island fire, and the new ellis island immigration station.

Where Did the Ellis Island Immigrants Come From?

American immigrants throughout US history have come from all around the world. With several ports of entry, tracking down where your ancestors are from and which port they came through can be quite the search. Take a look at which countries Ellis Island immigrants traveled from before they made America their new home.

Where did Ellis Island immigrants come from? Most came from Italy, Russia, Hungary, Austria, Germany, England, and Ireland.

Famous People Who Passed through Ellis Island

Purportedly forty percent of all US residents can trace their heritage back to Ellis Island. Even if you don’t have a New York immigrant in your family tree, the New York passenger lists are a fascinating source of history. Do you recognize some of these famous people who passed through Ellis Island?

Irving Berlin, Bob Hope, Cary Grant, Rudolph Valentino, Maria Von Trapp from the Von Trapp family, and Isaac Asimov all immigrated through Ellis Island.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. Interesting information that enlightened me on the immigration passage my ancestors travel to build a life in America for me. Am so amazed at the strength, deter nation, and fortitude of the generations before me. It makes me appreciate being who I am and where I came from.

  2. A fantastic recordset, just found my grandfather’s sister along with her future husband also with a previously unknown cousin, providing a clue to link to another branch of my Irish ancestry, Thank you

  3. I have used this information already. I was successful in finding some long searched for information. so thanks for the additional

  4. Both my mother and father came through Ellis Island as small children. Dad came from the Ukraine and mom from Austria-Hungary. They were too young to remember life in their homeland and their parents never talked about life in the old country. They went to school, learned to speak English and worked their way up the ladder to become self sustaining and important members of society. I have memorialized them with a plaque on the wall at Ellis Island and will always remember them and millions of other immigrants who truly found a new way of life in the United States.

  5. In the list of countries of origin above: Where are those who immigrated from Prussia (1870, in particular) categorized? Would they have just been added to Germany? Some of those may have come from what is now Poland, etc.

  6. Thank you so much. I have just found out when my Great Aunt emigrated to the USA, after 7 years of trying. The FS transcription made it easy for me to find and verify that this record was correct.

  7. I feel so sure that I have family immigrants into places like Nebraska & Massachusetts. They were prolific farmers in the Cheshire area of UK. So far I have yet to fin that elusive link. I live in hope.

  8. My maternal grandfather arrived in Ellis Island in 1896. I have had the record of that for some time. However, he returned to Italy sometime between then and 1905. Are there any records of when people actually left the US?

    1. I’m searching for that same thing. My grandfather returned back and forth From Kansas to Russia several times but can’t find which ports of departure and arrivals.

  9. Looking for a santoro leone from castevetrano Sicily. Arrived in America approximately 1906 or 1907 thanks

  10. In the chart of countries of origin for immigrants, does “Russia” include Germans from Russia? I assume it does because that was the country they most recently lived in, but I’d appreciate a knowledgeable person confirming that. (I have only native Germans in my tree, but my husband has Germans from Russia in his ancestors. My German ancestors came through New Orleans in the 1850s, but my husband’s Germans from Russia came through Ellis Island at the turn of the twentieth century.)