California, San Francisco Passenger Lists (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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California, San Francisco Passenger Lists, 1893-1953 .
This article describes a collection of records at
San Francisco, California, United States
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Record Description
Record Type Passenger Lists
Record Group RG 85: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service
Collection years 1893-1953
Microfilm Publication M1410. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at San Francisco, CA., 1893-1953. 429 rolls.
National Archives Identifier 4498993 414
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
National Archives and Records Administration

What is in the Collection?

This collection consists of lists of those arriving in San Francisco, California. It corresponds to NARA Publication M1410: Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at San Francisco, CA, for the years 1893 to 1953 and is part of Record Group 85 Records of teh Immigration adn Naturalization Service. The collection is arranged date of arrival starting with May 1, 1893.

Collection Content

Sample Images

Passenger arrival lists known as customs manifests date back to 1820. Congressional action in 1891 resulted in federal immigration officials recording the immigrants’ arrival.

Arrival lists was used by legal authorities to gather personal information about immigrants prior to the person being allowed to live in the United States.

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 passenger lists are digital copies of the original records. The earliest records are handwritten pages. Later records are usually handwritten on pre-printed pages. The records are arranged by the date of entry into port.

What Can this Collection Tell Me?

Passenger lists generally included the following information:

  • Name of ship
  • Port of embarkation
  • Date and seaport of entry
  • Final destination
  • Whether or not ticket to final destination
  • Name of passenger
  • Birth place
  • Age in years and months
  • Gender
  • Civil status
  • Occupation
  • Whether or not can read and write
  • Nationality
  • Last permanent residence
  • Destination
  • Who paid for passage
  • Declaration of money in possession
  • Whether or not has been in U. S. before
  • Whether or not passenger has been in prison
  • Whether or not passenger is a polygamist
  • Name and address of relative or friend passenger plans to join
  • Whether or not under contract to labor
  • General condition and statement of health
  • Description of passenger

How Do I Search the Collection?

To begin your search it is helpful to know:

  • Name of the passenger
  • Identifying information such as the approximate date of immigration

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

Search by Name by visiting the Collection Page:
Fill in the requested information on 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. You may need to compare the information about more than one person to find your ancestor.

View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page:
To search the collection you will need to follow this series of links:
⇒ Select "Browse through images" on the initial collection page
⇒ Select the "NARA Roll Number - Contents" category which takes you to the images

Look at each image comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine if the image relates to them. You may need to look at several images and compare the information about the individuals listed in those images to your ancestors to make this determination.

With either search 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.

For tips about searching on-line collections see the on-line article FamilySearch Search Tips and Tricks.

What Do I Do Next?

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 that can lead you to other records about your ancestors. Add this new information to your records of each family.

I Found Who I was Looking for, What Now?

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.
  • 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.

I Can’t Find Who I’m Looking for, What Now?

  • Look for variant spellings of the names. You should also look for alias names, nicknames and abbreviated names.
  • Look for an index. There are often indexes at the beginning of each volume. Local genealogical and historical societies often have indexes to local records.
  • Search the indexes of other port cities.
  • Try alternative search methods such as only filling in the surname search box (or the given name search box) on the landing page leaving the other box empty and then click on search. This should return a list of everyone with that particular name. You could then browse the list for individuals that may be your ancestor.

Known Issues with This Collection

Important.png Problems with this collection?
See a list of known issues, workarounds, tips, restrictions, future fixes, news and other helpful information.

For a full list of all known issues associated with this collection see the attached Wiki article. If you encounter additional problems, please email them to Please include the full path to the link and a description of the problem in your e-mail. Your assistance will help ensure that future reworks will be considered.

Citing This Collection

Citing your sources makes it easy for others to find and evaluate the records you used. When you copy information from a record, list where you found that information. Here you can find citations already created for the entire collection and for each individual record or image.

Collection Citation:

"California, San Francisco Passenger Lists, 1893-1953." Database with images. FamilySearch. : accessed 2016. Citing NARA microfilm publication M1410. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.

Record Citation (or citation for the index entry):

The citation for a record is available with each record in this collection, at the bottom of the record screen. You can search records in this collection by visiting the search page for California, San Francisco Passenger Lists, 1893-1953.

Image Citation

The image citation is available by clicking on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen. You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for California, San Francisco Passenger Lists, 1893-1953.

How Can I Contribute to the FamilySearch Wiki?

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. We are looking for additional information that will help readers understand the topic and better use the available records. We also need translations for collection titles and images in articles about records written in languages other than English. For specific needs, please visit WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.