New York, Passenger Arrival Lists, Ellis Island (FamilySearch Historical Records)
|This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.|
Access the records: New York Passenger Arrival Lists (Ellis Island) 1892-1924 .
This Collection will include records from 1892 to 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 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.
These collections also include a card index to passengers arriving in New York City from 1820 through 1846.
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 at Ellis Island 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. These indexes may contain inaccuracies, such as altered spellings, misinterpretations, and optical character recognition errors if the information was scanned.
Citation for This Collection
The following citation refers to the original source of the information published in FamilySearch.org Historical Records collections. Sources include the author, custodian, publisher, and archive for the original records.
- United States Immigration and Naturalization Service. New York passenger arrival lists (Ellis Island). United States National Archives, Washington D.C.
The card index to passenger lists includes the following information:
- Name of immigrant
- Accompanied by
- Last permanent residence
- Port of entry
- Name of vessel
- Date of arrival
Passenger lists, particularly later lists, include the following genealogical information:
- Names of immigrants and close relatives
- Birthplaces, former residences, and intended destinations
- Marital status
- Nationality and race
- Date of arrival
- Port of departure
How to Use the Records
Begin your search by finding your ancestors in the index. Name indexes make it possible to access a specific record quickly. Check the index for the surname and then the given name. You may need to look at many entries to find the one you are seeking. Remember that these indexes may contain inaccuracies, such as altered spellings, misinterpretations, and optical character recognition errors if the information was scanned.
When searching the index it is helpful to know the full name of your ancestor and the approximate date of immigration. If you do not know this information, check the census records after 1900.
Use the locator information found in the index (such as name of the ship, page, or entry number) to locate your ancestors in the records. Compare the information in the record to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct person. You may need to compare the information of more than one person to make this determination.
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 that can lead you to other records about your ancestors. Add this new information to your records of each family. For example, you can use passenger lists to:
- 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 manifests
You may also find these tips helpful:
- 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.
If you do not find the name you are looking for, try the following:
- 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.
Please note that when you select an image to view, sometimes the manifest includes more than one page and, when you use the "click to enlarge manifest" link, the image that appears is not always the first page of the record. You may need to click on the "previous" or "next" links to view the remaining pages of the full manifest.
Related Web Sites
- Ancestor Search
- The Statue of Liberty - Ellis Island Foundation, Inc.
- Ellis Island JewishGen has advanced search tools and access to lost manifests.
- Ellis Island WikiMedia Commons
Related Wiki Articles
- Free Online New Your Passenger Lists, 1820-1897
- New York
- New York Emigration and Immigration
- New York, Passenger Lists (FamilySearch Historical Records)
- New York, New York, Index to Passenger Lists (FamilySearch Historical Records)
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