United States Immigration - After 1820
U.S. Customs Passenger Lists began in 1820. To search for immigrants to the United States after 1820, you need to know at least your ancestor’s:
- Name of ancestor
- Approximate date of arrival in the U.S.
- Approximate age on arrival
Passenger lists before the 1880s show the name of immigrant, age, sex, occupation, country of origin, port of departure, date and port of arrival, and name of the vessel.
Immigration lists or “ship manifests,” which were used after about 1891, may give more detailed information. Though the content varies by port and time period, these passenger lists may also include the exact birthplace, final destination, physical description, town of last residence, and names and address of relatives in the U.S. and in the “old country.”
Passenger Arrival Lists Immigrants could have entered the United States at many different ports. The major ports of entry were New York, Baltimore, Boston, Philadelphia, and New Orleans. Records of these ports and other minor ports are available to search:
- 1820-1945 Free New Orleans, Louisiana Passenger Lists.
- 1909, 1925-1957 Free New York, New York Passenger and Crew Lists
- 1892-1924 Free New York, Passenger Arrival Lists (Ellis Island)
- 1820-1891 Free New York, Passenger Lists
- 1820-1948 Free Maryland, Baltimore Passenger Lists
- 1954-1957 Free Maryland, Baltimore, Passenger and Crew Lists of Vessels and Airplanes
- 1820-1891 Free Massachusetts, Boston Passenger Lists
- 1891-1943 Free Massachusetts, Boston Passenger Lists
- 1800-1882 Free Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Passenger Lists
- 1883-1945 Free Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Passenger Lists
Internet Indexes Indexes to the passenger lists of the major ports of New York City, New York; Baltimore, Maryland; Boston, Massachusetts; New Orleans, Louisiana; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania are available for a fee at www.ancestry.com. Free access to Ancestry is available at the Family History Library and regional family history centers, at www.ancestryinstitution.com. Free indexes are also available at FamilySearch Historical Records Collection.
New York City, New York Between 1820 and 1920, 35 million immigrants arrived at U.S. ports, and 82% of these arrived at the port of New York.
- 1820-1874 United States Index to Passenger Arrivals, Atlantic and Gulf Ports
- 1855–1891 Free Castle Garden Indexes and Passenger Lists
- 1892–1924 Free Ellis Island Indexes and Passenger Lists
- 1820–1924 Free Steve Morse Passenger Indexes:
- 1820–1957 Fee Indexes and Passenger Lists. Many public libraries have a subscription to Ancestry
- 1820-1846 Free New York Index to Passenger Lists
- 1899-1940 Free Boston, Massachusetts Passenger Lists Index
- 1883-1948 Free Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Passenger List Index
- 1800-1906 Free Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Passenger Lists Index
- 1820-1897 Free Baltimore, Maryland Passenger Lists Index
Other U.S. Ports
For additional indexes of other major ports and some minor ports select a state using the records option at familysearch.org. Indexes can also be found at www.ancestryinstitution.com at the Family History Library, or with a paid subscription to Ancestry.
Microfilm copies of indexes and passenger arrival records for all the ports can be viewed at the Family History Library, family history centers, and at the National Archives and its Regional Archives. To find the microfilm numbers for the indexes and passenger lists at the Family History Library, use the books New York City Passenger Lists From 1820, FHL book 974.71 W33r and U.S. Passenger Lists From 1820 (Excluding New York City), FHL book 973 W33u found in the U.S. and Canada reference areas.
You can also use the Family History Library Catalog Place Search. Type in the name of the port city, and choose the Topic Emigration and Immigration or Emigration and Immigration—Indexes. Click on titles beginning with Passenger Lists or Passenger and Crew Lists. Use the View Film Notes button to find the correct microfilm.
Canadian Border Crossings
1895-1954: Canadian Border Crossings Some immigrants arrived at Canadian ports and then moved to the United States. Indexes and images of the border crossing records from Canada into the United States, 1895–1954, are available at FamilySearch Historical Records Collections and Ancestry.com. They can also be found on microfilm at the Family History Library. Use the book U.S. Passenger Lists From 1820, (FHL book 973 W33u) found in the U.S. and Canada reference areas for help in searching the index and records.
Published Lists of Immigrants
Czech Baca, Leo. Czech Immigration Passenger Lists, FHL book 973 W3bL
Swierenga, Robert P. Dutch Immigrants in U.S. Passenger Manifests, 1820–1880. FHL book 973 W2sr. Available at www.ancestryinstitution.com.
German Glazier, Ira A. and Filby, P. William, eds. Germans to America: Lists of Passengers Arriving at U.S. Ports. 1840–1897, FHL book 973 W2ger.
Schenk, Trudy, et. al. The Wuerttemberg Emigration Index, 1808–1890. FHL book 943.47 W22st.
Zimmerman, Gary J. and Marion Wolfert, comp. German Immigrants… Bound from Bremen to New York, 1847–1871. FHL book 974.71 W3g.
1850-1897 United States Germans to America Index.
Irish Glazier, Ira A. and Michael Tepper. The Famine Immigrants: Lists of Irish Immigrants Arriving at the Port of New York, 1846–1851. FHL book 974.1 W3f. Available on Ancestry.com.
Harris, Ruth-Ann M. et. al. The Search for Missing Friends: Irish Immigrant Advertisements Placed in the Boston Pilot. 1831–1920. FHL book 974.461 H29s.
Passenger Immigration Lists: Irish to America, 1846–1865. FHL CD-ROM no. 9 pt. 357.
Mitchell, Brian, comp. Irish Passenger Lists, 1847–1871…. Baltimore, Md.: Genealogical Publishing, 1988. FHL Book 973 W3mi. Available on Ancestry.com.
Passenger Immigration Lists: Irish Immigrants to North America, 1803–1871. N.p.: Broderbund, 1998. FHL CD-ROM no. 9, pt. 257. Italian Glazier, Ira P. and P. William Filby, eds. Italians to America…1880–1902. FHL book 973 W2it.
1855-1900 United States Italians to America. FamilySearch Historical Collection https://familysearch.org/search/collection/2110811
Mexican United States Border Crossings From Mexico to the United States, 1903-1957. Index to records of aliens and citizens crossing into the United States of America from Mexico via various ports of entry along the U.S.-Mexican border between 1903 and 1957. Available at Ancestry.com and the FamilySearch Historical Records Collection https://familysearch.org/search/collection/1803932
Russian Glazier, Ira A., ed. Migration from the Russian Empire, Lists of Passengers Arriving at the Port of New York. 1875–1891. FHL book 973 W3r.
1834-1897 United States Russians to America. FamilySearch Histrocial Records Collection https://familysearch.org/search/collection/2110813 Miscellaneous P. William Filby, ed. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index and Supplements, 20+ vols. Detroit, Mich. Gale Research, 1981–. FHL book 973 W32p. This is an index to published sources of immigration, including some naturalizations, oaths of allegiance, and other sources. Some editions are available on microfilm and microfiche and can be loaned to family history centers. Other public and university libraries may have copies. It is also available on Ancestry.com.
Additional Sources For more information on sources and search strategies, see the “Emigration and Immigration” section of the United States Research Outline (30972) and Tracing Immigrant Origins Research Outline (34111). The research outlines are available at www.familysearch.org. For other sources, search the Family History Library Catalog using the Place Search under: United States, or the name of the state or city, and the topic Emigration and Immigration. Embarkation lists for European ports can be found using the same search techniques.
The passenger departure lists of ships leaving Hamburg, Germany are also available at the Family History Library and family history centers. See The Hamburg Passenger Lists Resource Guide, 1850–1934 (34047) or https://wiki.familysearch.org/en/Hamburg_Passenger_Lists
Helps on the Internet • “Emigration and Immigration Records and Links” http://www.germanroots.com/ei.html This includes links to other immigration indexes and resources.
• FamilySearch Research Wiki https://wiki.familysearch.org/en/US_Immigration_Passenger_Arrival_Records This guide includes research helps on finding passenger lists after 1820.
• “Immigration and Naturalization” in Cyndi’s List www.cyndislist.com/immigrat.htm This list has links to other Internet sites with information on immigration and naturalization records.
• “Ships and Passenger Lists” in Cyndi’s List www.cyndislist.com/ships.htm This list has links to other Internet sites with information on immigrant ships and passenger lists.