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New York, Passenger Lists - FamilySearch Historical Records

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New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1891
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
New York, United States
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Record Description
Record Type Passenger Lists
Record Group RG 36: Records of the U.S. Customs Service
Collection years 1820-1891
Microfilm Publication M237. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, New York, 1820-1897. 580 rolls.
  M261. Index to Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, 1820 -1846.
FamilySearch Resources
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National Archives and Records Administration


What is in This Collection?[edit | edit source]

The collection consists of passenger lists of vessels arriving in New York City from 1820 through 1891 consisting of 580 microfilm rolls from NARA microfilm publication M237: Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, New York, 1820-1897 part of Record Group 36 Records of the U.S. Customs Service. For arrival years 1892 through 1897 microfilm rolls 581 through 675 see New York Passenger Arrival Lists (Ellis Island), 1892-1924

The content of earlier lists, known generally as “customs manifests,” was not regulated. Formats varied widely and a specific place of origin was not always listed. In 1883, the federal government mandated the creation of ship manifests, which included columns for an exact birthplace or last residence. This information was also kept on passenger arrival lists of later periods.

The collection also include a card index to passengers arriving in New York City from 1820 through 1846 from NARA microfilm publication M261 Index to Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, 1820 -1846 also from Record Group 36. For searchable index see York, New York, Index to Passenger Lists, 1820-1846

To Browse This Collection[edit | edit source]

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1891.

What Can These Records Tell Me?[edit | edit source]

The following information may be found in these records:

Card index

  • Full name of immigrant
  • Name of person accompanying immigrant
  • Age, gender, race and occupation of immigrant
  • Nationality of immigrant
  • Last permanent residence (town, country)
  • Destination
  • Port of entry and date of arrival
  • Name of ship

Passenger lists

  • Name of ship and port of departure
  • Ship's arrival date and port of entry
  • Names of immigrants
  • Immigrants' age, gender, marital status and occupation
  • Country where immigrant holds citizenship
  • Last place of residence in that country
  • Name of relative or friend living at last residence
  • Name of relative or friend to be visited in this country
  • Final destination of immigrant
  • Physical description
  • Birthplace

Collection Content[edit | edit source]

Sample Images[edit | edit source]


General Information About These Records[edit | edit source]

Passenger arrival lists known as customs manifests date back to 1820. However, the first official emigration station for New York was Castle Garden, located at the tip of lower Manhattan. Congressional action in 1891 resulted in federal immigration officials recording the immigrants’ arrival. After January 1892, passengers arriving in New York debarked at Ellis Island, located east of Manhattan in the New York Harbor.From 1892 to 1924, almost all immigrants entered the United States through the port of New York.

The passenger arrival list was used by legal inspectors to cross-examine each immigrant during a legal inspection prior to the person being allowed to live in America. Only two percent of the prospective immigrants were denied entry.

The information was supplied by the immigrant or a traveling companion (usually a family member). Incorrect information was occasionally given, or mistakes may have been made when the clerk guessed at the spelling of foreign names.

The lists consist of large sheets of paper divided into columns and rows. Earlier lists are handwritten, while most after 1917 are typewritten. Lists after 1906 usually occupy two pages.

How Do I Search This Collection?[edit | edit source]

Before searching this collection, it is helpful to know:

  • The full name of your ancestor
  • The birth year and birth place
  • The approximate date of immigration

In order to help you locate records, you can check the US census records for and after 1900 to find immigration or naturalization information.

Search the Index[edit | edit source]

Search by name by visiting the Collection Details Page.
  1. Fill in the search boxes in the Search Collection section with the information you know
  2. Click Search to show possible matches

View the Images[edit | edit source]

View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page:

  1. Select the NARA Roll Number - Content to view the images.


How Do I Analyze the Results?[edit | edit source]

Compare each result from your search with what you know to determine if there is a match. This may require viewing multiple records or images. Keep track of your research in a research log.

What Do I Do Next?[edit | edit source]

When you have located your ancestor’s record, carefully evaluate each piece of information given. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details and lead you to other records about your ancestors.

I Found the Person I Was Looking For, What Now?[edit | edit source]

  • Learn an immigrant’s place of origin
  • Confirm their date of arrival
  • Learn foreign and “Americanized” names
  • Find records in his or her country of origin such as emigrations, port records, or ship’s manifests
  • If your ancestor had a common name, be sure to look at all the entries for a name before you decide which is correct
  • Continue to search the passenger lists to identify siblings, parents, and other relatives in the same or other generations who may have immigrated at the same time
  • If your ancestor has an uncommon surname, you may want to obtain the passenger list of every person who shares your ancestor’s surname if they lived in the same county or nearby. You may not know how or if they are related, but the information could lead you to more information about your own ancestors

I Can’t Find the Person I’m Looking For, What Now?[edit | edit source]

  • Check for variant spellings. Realize that the indexes may contain inaccuracies, such as altered spellings and misinterpretations
  • Try a different index if there is one for the years needed. You may also need to search the passenger lists year by year
  • Search the indexes of other port cities

Research Helps[edit | edit source]

The following articles will help you in your research for your family in the state of New York.

Citing This Collection[edit | edit source]

Citations help you keep track of places you have searched and sources you have found. Identifying your sources helps others find the records you used.

Collection Citation:
The citation for this collection can be found on the Collection Details Page in the section Citing this Collection.
Record Citation:
When looking at a record, the citation can be viewed by clicking the drop-down arrow next to Document Information.
Image Citation:
When looking at an image, the citation is found on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen.

How Can I Contribute to the FamilySearch Wiki?[edit | edit source]

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