US Immigration Ship (Vessel) Arrival Records

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If you know the name of the ship your ancestor traveled on, and want to learn more about that ship's history and voyages, there are many resources available.

A great resource is Lloyd's List that includes ship movements, marine casualties and maritime news.  Google has digitised early editions of Lloyd's List for the years 1740-1826.

Another excellent resource is "The Registry of Shipping, later renamed Lloyd’s Register, printed its first Register of Ships in 1764 to give both underwriters and merchants an idea of the condition of the vessels they insured and chartered."  The years covered at the link provided are 1764-1899, not all years are available, and 1930-1945.

Colonial Period[edit | edit source]

The arrival of European ships at Colonial American ports can be reconstructed through a variety of sources. Customs paid by ship masters at ports were recorded. Announcements of goods for sale in colonial newspapers. Court disputes at the county, colony, and High Court of Admiralty level often identify voyages.

Dutch Ships[edit | edit source]

English Ships[edit | edit source]

Peter Wilson Coldham created a detailed list of convict ships sent from England to America in the eighteenth century. Maryland and Virginia were the most frequent destinations. The list is published as an appendix to:

  • Coldham, Peter Wilson. British Emigrants in Bondage, 1614-1788. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2004. FHL CD-ROM no. 2150.

German Ships[edit | edit source]

Dr. Marianne S. Wokeck created a detailed list of "German Immigrant Voyages, 1683-1775" to Colonial America. The ships she tracked docked in Pennsylvania, Halifax, Boston, New York, Maryland, Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana, and the West Indies. She published the list in an Appendix to:

  • Wokeck, Marianne S. Trade in Strangers: The Beginnings of Mass Migration to North America. University Park, Pa.: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1999. FHL Book 970 W2w.

Irish Ships[edit | edit source]

Griffin identifies known voyages between what is now Northern Ireland and Colonial America in:

  • Griffin, Patrick. The People with No Name: Ireland's Ulster Scots, America's Scots Irish, and the Creation of a British Atlantic World, 1689-1764. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2001.

Scottish Ships[edit | edit source]

Ships of Unknown National Origin
[edit | edit source]

Two Brothers, 250 tons,[1] 14 guns,[2] sailing ship, captain: Arnot.  "Captain Arnot carried Germans to [Philadelphia] seven times from 1747-1753 in the ship Two Brothers, tied for second for the most passages for a particular ship. By the end of his career in 1771, Captain Arnot had the most passages of any captain who brought Pennsylvania Germans to Philadelphia."[3]  On its passage to America in 1754, Two Brothers sank with the loss of the 300 German passengers on board.  The Second Mate drowned as well, however Captain Arnot survived the sinking of his ship and continued to bring Germans to Philadelphia until 1771.[4]

1783 to Present[edit | edit source]

If there is no index to the lists you need, but if you know the name of the ship and the year of arrival, the following ship arrival records may help you select the specific film to search. These list the name of the ship and the exact date of arrival.

  • Morton Allan Directory of European Steamship Arrivals: for the Years 1890 to 1930 at the Port of New York and for the Years 1904 to 1926 at the Ports of New York, Philadelphia, Boston, and Baltimore. 1931. Reprint, Genealogical Publishing, 1980, 1987. (Family History Library book 973 U3m; fiche 6046854.) This lists the names of vessels and the dates of arrival by year and by steamship line.
  • United States. Immigration and Naturalization Service. Registers of Vessels Arriving at the Port of New York from Foreign Ports, 1789-1919. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Service, 1980. (Family History Library film 1415143-69.) These records from the National Archives list the names of vessels and the dates of arrival in alphabetical and chronological arrangements.

From 1873 to 1935 the Red Star Line shipping company transported nearly three million people from Antwerp, Belgium to the USA and Canada. There's considerable data concerning the ships and the company and pictures with a link to the Belgium Roots Project, which contains an alphabetical list of individuals who emigrated from Belgium and are being researched by others.  For  Family History Library entries for the Red Star Line,

French Ships
[edit | edit source]

Ville de Bordeaux 478 ton sailing ship, home port Bordeaux, captain and possibly owner Ship Master Pereault, probably of Bordeaux.  Made at least 10 passages from France (Bordeaux or Le Havre) to New Orleans and return to France (Bordeaux or Le Havre) 1838-1844. First mention 13 Nov 1838 on the bar bound into New Orleans.[5]  Last mention 1 May 1844 arrived at Bordeaux from New Orleans.[6] 

Websites[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Advertisement, The Pennsylvania Gazette, 15 Oct 1747, number 983, p. 3, col. 2,
  2. Ibid.
  3. Richard W. Tobin II, The Kesler Family: THEIß KEßLER of Westerburg, Germany and some of his descendants 1665-2013 (Phoenix: Snowfall Press, 2013), p. 19, footnote 15, citing Strassburger, Ralph B., edited by William J. Hinke. Pennsylvania German Pioneers. Rockport, ME: Picton Press, 2002, vol. 1, various pages, used with permission, may be freely used for non-commercial purposes, attribution requested.
  4. “LONDON. … August 7. The Two Brothers, Arnot, from Holland for Portsmouth and Philadelphia, was lost on the Overfalls coming out; the Second Mate and 300 Palatine Passengers were drowned, but the Captain and rest of the Crew were taken up by Capt. Harrison, bound for the Coast of Guiney, who took them on board, and landed them at Helvoetsfluys, and then proceeded on his Voyage. A Dutchman was in Sight, and tho’ sensible of their Distress, kept his Course.” “LONDON.”, The Pennsylvania Gazette, Thursday, 26 Sep 1754, number 1344, p. 2, col. 2, Tobin, The Kesler Family, p. 25,footnote 33, no copyright claim made.
  5. “Marine List,” Evening Post (New York, NY), Thursday, November 22, 1838, issue 11209, p. 3, col. 2, digital image, ( : accessed 14 May 2014.
  6. “Marine Journal,” Daily Atlas (Boston, MA), Monday, June 3, 1844, vol. XII, issue 278, p. 3, col. 2, digital image, ( : accessed 14 May 2014, indexed entry takes you to page 2 but the note is on page 3.