New York, Passenger Lists (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page

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FamilySearch Record Search This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.

Contents

Record Description

The collection consists of passenger lists for over 13 million immigrants arriving in New York City from 1820 through 1891. NARA publication M237: Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, New York, 1820-1897.

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.

These collections also include a card index to passengers arriving in New York City from 1820 through 1846.

For a list of records by localities and dates currently published in this collection, select the Browse link from the collection landing page.

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.

"New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1891." Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2013. Citing Immigration and Naturalization Service. National Archives, Washington D.C.

Suggested citation format for a record in this collection.

Record Content

The card index to passenger lists includes the following information:

  • 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, particularly later lists, include the following information:

  • 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

How to Use the Records

To begin your search it is helpful to know:

  • The full name of your ancestor
  • The approximate date of immigration.

If you do not know this information, check the census records after 1900.

Search the Collection

To search the collection,
⇒Select "Browse through images" on the initial collection page
⇒Select the "NARA Roll Number - Content" which takes you to the images.

Look at the images one by one comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine which one is your ancestor. You may need to compare the information about more than one person to make this determination. Keep in mind:

  • There may be more than one person in the records with the same name.
  • You may not be sure of your own ancestor’s name.
  • Your ancestor may have used different names or variations of their name throughout their life.

Using the Information

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. 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’s manifests.

Tips to Keep in Mind

  • 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.
  • 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.

Unable to Find Your Ancestor?

  • 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.

General Information About These Records

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.

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Contributions to This Article

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. Guidelines are available to help you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide. If you would like to get more involved join the WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections

When you copy information from a record, you should list where you found the information. This will help you or others to find the record again. It is also good to keep track of records where you did not find information, including the names of the people you looked for in the records.

A suggested format for keeping track of records that you have searched is found in the wiki article Help:How to Cite FamilySearch Collections.

Citation Example for a Record Found in This Collection

"New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1891"   images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org: accessed 21 March 2012). Joseph Bavier, age 19; citing Passenger Lists, 039-1 Jul 1839-5 Sep 1939. Image 9; United States Immigration and Naturalization Service, Washington, D.C.


 

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