US Immigration Ship (Vessel) Arrival Records

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United States  Gotoarrow.png  Emigration and Immigration  Gotoarrow.png  Ship (Vessel) Arrival Records

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.

Colonial Period

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

English Ships

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

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

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

1783 to Present

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, click here<