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Portal:United States Emigration and Immigration;► Canadian Border Crossing Records

Contents

Background

From 1895 through 1954, records were kept of many people who crossed the border from Canada into the United States. The records are mostly for people who:

  • Were immigrating.
  • Were visiting.
  • Were United States citizens returning to the United States.

The border crossings records from Canada to the United States began in 1895. They include people coming in ships and trains through Canada to the United States either for a visit or to stay. People who crossed the border in any other way, such as by horse or car, are not in the records.

Lists of passengers crossing the Canadian border to the United States were collected into this record: Manifests of Passengers Arriving in the St. Albans, Vermont District. In spite of the title, this collection includes records from all over Canada and the northern United States (not just St. Albans). These are the records of U.S. immigration officials who inspected travelers at the following places:

  • From 1895 to 1914, at all Canadian seaports and train arrival stations from Washington state to Maine (including major interior cities such as Quebec, Winnipeg, etc.). Officials used shipping company passenger lists (manifests) to determine passengers bound for the United States via Canada.
  • From 1915 to 1954, border crossing records were only kept at train arrival stations along the northern borders of New York and Vermont.

The information you find varies from record to record. These records may include:

  • Name.
  • Port or station of entry.
  • Date of entry.
  • Literacy.
  • Last residence.
  • Name of nearest relative at last residence.
  • Previous visits to United States.
  • Place of birth.

The records

Indexes 

In many cases, the index cards are the only record of the crossing.

  • Ancestry.com has indexes with image links to the index cards. A study was not done at this time to determine if all four sets of indexes are included in this collection.
  • The Family History Library has on microfilm all four sets of indexes of the records:
  1. Soundex Index to Canadian Border Entries through the St. Albans, Vermont District, 1895-1924. (400 rolls; FHL films 1472801-3201.) The Soundex is a coded surname index based on the way a name sounds rather than how it is spelled. Names like Smith and Smyth have the same code and are filed together.
  2. Soundex Index to Entries into the St. Albans, Vermont District through Canadian Pacific and Atlantic Ports, 1924-1952. (98 rolls; FHL films 1570714- 811)
  3. Alphabetical Index to Canadian Border Entries through Small Ports in Vermont, 1895-1924. (6 rolls; 1430987- 92) Arranged first by entry station, and then alphabetically by surname. From Vermont ports of entry only: Alburg, Beecher Falls, Canaan, Highgate Springs, Island Pond, Norton, Richford, St. Albans, and Swanton.
  4. Card Manifests (Alphabetical) of Individuals Entering through the Port of Detroit, Michigan, 1906-1954. (117 rolls; FHL films 1490449-565) Michigan ports of entry only: Bay City, Detroit, Port Huron, and Sault Sainte Marie.

Border Crossing Records

The records are in two series, as shown below:

  • Manifests of Passengers Arriving in the St. Albans, Vermont District through Canadian Pacific and Atlantic Ports, 1895-1954. (608 rolls; FHL films 1561087-499.) There are two indexes, 1895-1914 and 1915-1954. 
  • Manifests of Passengers Arriving in the St. Albans, Vermont District through Canadian Pacific Ports, 1929-1949. (25 rolls; FHL films 1549387-411.) In transit to the United States from Canadian Pacific seaports only.

Manifests for Pacific and Atlantic ports provide two types of lists: the traditional passenger lists on U.S. immigration forms and monthly lists of names of aliens crossing the border on trains. These monthly lists are arranged by month, then alphabetically by name of port, and then by railway.

Suggestions for Searching

Search the index on Ancestry.com.

If that fails:

  1. Look through the microfilmed Soundex index for the code that includes your ancestor's last name.
  2. Search through that Soundex code for your ancestor's first name.
  3. Write down everything the index gives about your ancestor, including the day, month, and year when your ancestor entered the United States, the Serial number, which would have volume, group, and list numbers (usually the numbers in the upper right corner).

Interpretation of the serial number, such as 761-33-10 from the index:

  • 761 is the volume number
  • 33 is the group number or the page number (usually)
  • 10 is the list number or line number on the page

If you do not find your ancestor in the index, see Tip 1.


 

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