New York, Passenger Lists (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page
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|This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.|
Access the records: New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1891 .
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.
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)
- 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
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 by name fill in your ancestor’s name in the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible matches. Compare the information about those in the list to what you already know about your own ancestors to determine if this is the correct family or person.
If you did not find the person you were looking for, you may need to search the collection image by image.
⇒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. Again you will need to compare the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine which one is your ancestor.
Be aware that with either search you may need to compare the information about more than one person to make this determination.
As you are searching it is helpful to know such information as your ancestor’s given name and surname, some identifying information such as residence and age, and family relationships. Remember that there may be more than one person in the records with the same name as your ancestor and that your ancestor may have used nicknames or different names at different times.
- If your ancestor used an alias or a nickname, be sure to check for those alternate names.
- Even though these indexes are very accurate they may still contain inaccuracies, such as altered spellings, misinterpretations, and optical character recognition errors if the information was scanned.
For tips about searching on-line collections see the on-line video at FamilySearch Search Tips.
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.
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
- New York Emigration and Immigration
- New York, Passenger Arrival Lists (Ellis Island) (FamilySearch Historical Records)
- New York, New York, Index to Passenger Lists (FamilySearch Historical Records)
- Free Online New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1897
Contributions to This Article
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Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections
Citations for individual image records are available for this collection. Browse through images in this collection and click on the "Show Citation" box: New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1891
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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.