US Immigration Passenger Arrival Records

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How do I research US Immigration Passenger Arrival Records?
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US Emigration & Immigration

How do I find records?[edit | edit source]

Online Records[edit | edit source]

Partner Sites Indexing Multiple Databases[edit | edit source]

Use these search engines first to check for your ancestor in multiple databases for many ports all at once.

Collections With Nationwide Coverage[edit | edit source]

Included in Above Partner Site Indexes[edit | edit source]

If you have already searched the Partner Sites, you have searched these collections.

Additional Collections Not Included in Above Partner Site Indexes[edit | edit source]

Although there will be some overlap with the Partner Site searches, you should search these collections. Different search engines can yield different results.

Immigration Records By Major Port[edit | edit source]

Baltimore[edit | edit source]
Boston[edit | edit source]
Galveston[edit | edit source]
Honolulu[edit | edit source]
Los Angeles[edit | edit source]
New Orleans[edit | edit source]
New York[edit | edit source]
Philadelphia[edit | edit source]
San Diego[edit | edit source]
San Francisco[edit | edit source]

Border Crossings[edit | edit source]

Immigration Records by Ethnic, Nationality, Political, Religious, or Socioeconomic Groups[edit | edit source]

Indentured or Bonded Servants[edit | edit source]
Slavery[edit | edit source]
Quaker[edit | edit source]
British[edit | edit source]
Chinese[edit | edit source]
Dutch[edit | edit source]
Filipino[edit | edit source]
Finnish[edit | edit source]
German[edit | edit source]
Irish[edit | edit source]
Italian[edit | edit source]
Japanese[edit | edit source]
Jewish[edit | edit source]
Russian[edit | edit source]

Offices to Contact[edit | edit source]

National Archives and Records Administration[edit | edit source]

Requesting a Record[edit | edit source]

What are United States passenger arrival records?[edit | edit source]

Immigration refers to people coming into a country. Emigration refers to people leaving a country to go to another. The records usually take the form of ship's passenger lists collected at the port of entry.

What can I find in them?[edit | edit source]

  • Passenger lists before 1820 included name, departure information and arrival details. The names of wives and children were often not included.
  • Customs Passenger Lists between 1820 and 1891 asked for each immigrant’s name, their age, their sex, their occupation, and their country of origin, but not the city or town of origin.
  • Information given on passenger lists from 1891 to 1954 included:
    • name, age, sex,
    • nationality, occupation, marital status,
    • last residence, final destination in the U.S.,
    • whether they had been to the U.S. before (and if so, when, where and how long),
    • if joining a relative, who this person was, where they lived, and their relationship,
    • whether able to read and write,
    • whether in possession of a train ticket to their final destination, who paid for the passage,
    • amount of money the immigrant had in their possession,
    • whether the passenger had ever been in prison, a poorhouse, or in an institution for the insane,
    • whether the passenger was a polygamist,
    • and immigrant's state of health.
  • In 1906, the physical description and place of birth were included, and a year later, the name and address of the passenger’s closest living relative in the country of origin was included.

US passenger list French data.png

Example: This passenger list gives the name and age of each passenger, their birth place, last residence in the home country, information on next of kin in the home country, and information on any relative they are joining in the U.S.

Filipino example passenger list.png

Search Strategies[edit | edit source]

  • You will usually find several possible entries for immigrants with similar names and ages. Learn everything you can so you can distinguish your ancestor from others of the same name. Knowing your ancestor’s full name, approximate date of arrival in the United States, approximate age on arrival to the United States, the likely port of arrival, the name of their spouse, their religion, and their occupation will all help in identifying your ancestor in passenger lists.
  • Many immigrants traveled in groups or settled among friends and relatives from their native land. Knowing the names of some relatives, neighbors and friends of your ancestor will help identify him on a passenger list.
  • Remember it wasn’t uncommon for one member of the family to come to the United States first and send for the rest of the family after getting established.
  • It is important to understand that many immigrant names were misspelled, misunderstood because of heavy accents or the lack of the ability to speak English, or Americanized. A name may have been lengthened or shortened. Search each index creatively for name variations.

Emigration and Immigration Background and Records by State[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]