Massachusetts, Boston Passenger Lists, 1891-1943 (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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FamilySearch Record Search This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.
Access the records: Massachusetts, Boston Passenger Lists, 1891-1943 .
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What is in the Collection?

The collection consists of Boston Passenger Lists for 1891 through 1943. Corresponds to NARA publication T843: Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Boston, Massachusetts.

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Massachusetts, Boston Passenger Lists, 1891-1943.

Collection Contents

The content of the records varies by time period. You may find any of the following information:

  • Port of departure and sailing date
  • Port of entry and arrival date
  • Name and age of immigrant
  • Gender, marital status and occupation
  • Country of citizenship or last country of residence
  • Name and address of relative in former country
  • Birthplace
  • Intended final destination
  • Name and address of friend or relative where going
  • Physical description

How Do I Search the Collection?

To begin your search it is helpful to know:

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

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

To search the collection by name:
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.

To browse by image:
To search the collection you will need to follow this series of links:
⇒Select "Browse through images" on the initial collection page
⇒Select "NARA Roll No. - Description" which takes you to the images.

Be aware that with either search 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.
  • 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.

What Do I Do Next?

When you have located your ancestor’s record, carefully evaluate each piece of information given. Make a photocopy of the record, or extract the genealogical information needed. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details. Add this new information to your records of each family. The information may also lead you to other records about your ancestors.

The following examples show ways you can use the information:

  • Use the age listed to calculate a birthdate.
  • Use the names and relationships as a basis for compiling family groups.
  • Use the last residence or port of departure to find records in his or her country of origin such as emigrations, port records, or ship’s manifests.
  • Use the occupation to search for employment and guild records.
  • Use the intended destination to search for church, census, and land records.

Tips to Keep in Mind

  • 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 had a common name, be sure to look at all the entries for that date before you decide which is correct.
  • 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.
  • Please note that 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.

I Can't Find Who I'm Looking For, Now What?

  • Check for variant spellings.
  • Look for an index. Records are often indexed by local historical and genealogical societies. There may also be another collection which is an index to the records.
  • Search the indexes of other port cities.

General Information About These Records

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.

Passenger arrival lists known as customs manifests date back to 1820. In 1883, the federal government mandated the creation of ship manifests and in 1891, Congressional action resulted in federal immigration officials recording the immigrants’ arrival.

The passenger arrival list was used by legal inspectors to question 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.

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How You Can Contribute

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.


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:

"Massachusetts, Boston Passenger Lists, 1891-1943." Database with images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2016. Citing NARA microfilm publication T843. 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 Massachusetts, Boston Passenger Lists, 1891-1943.

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 Massachusetts, Boston Passenger Lists, 1891-1943.