United States Border Crossings from Mexico to United States (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: Border Crossings From Mexico to the United States, 1903-1957 .

Collection Time Period

This collection contains an index of people crossing from Mexico into the United States via various ports of entry along the USA-Mexican border, between the years 1903 and 1957.

Record Description

This database contains an index of aliens and some citizens crossing into the U.S. from Mexico via various ports of entry along the U.S./Mexican border between 1903 and 1957.

Many of the records are arranged alphabetically. Others are arranged chronologically, then by manifest number. Chronologically-arranged records usually have a related alphabetical index. Alphabetically-arranged records are filed by surname, then by first name, subject to special rules. Double names are filed as if the second part of the double name was not there. For example, Jimenez De San Miguel, Petra, is filed among other persons named Jimenez, Petra. Castro, Maria de los Angeles, is filed among other persons named Castro, Maria. Montalvo-Hernandez, Jose, is filed among other persons named Montalvo, Jose. Surnames like De La Huerta are filed under Huerta.

Record Content

Key genealogical facts found on the Ancestry’s Mexican border crossing database:

  • Name
  • Age
  • Birth date
  • Birthplace
  • Gender
  • Ethnicity or nationality
  • Port of arrival
  • Arrival date

The short forms (index cards) usually contain the following information:

  • Name
  • Age
  • Sex
  • Citizenship ("nationality")
  • Race
  • Last place of residence
  • Destination
  • Port and date of admission
  • Status as immigrant or non immigrant. The number annotated to the right of the person's name or gender is generally the "real" manifest number that is used, along with the date of arrival, to locate the person's statistical manifest--which contains additional information--in a separate series of card manifests. Sometimes, information was simply typewritten onto a blank card instead of a form.

The manifest usually contains the following information:

  • Name
  • Age
  • Marital status
  • Place of birth
  • Physical description
  • Occupation
  • Ability to read and write and in what language
  • Place of last permanent residence
  • Destination
  • Purpose for entering U.S.
  • Intention of becoming a U.S. citizen or of returning to country of previous residence
  • Head tax status
  • Previous citizenship
  • Name and address of the friend or relative whom the alien intended to join
  • Persons accompanying the alien
  • Name and address of the alien's nearest relative or friend in the country from which he or she came
  • If the alien had ever been in the U.S. in the past, the dates and places of such residence or visitation are indicated.

Record History

Separate cards or “card manifests” for each person were used at the ports of entry along the Mexican border. These cards contained the same information as was collected on traditional ship passenger arrival lists, such as full name, age, sex, marital status, occupation, point of arrival in the United States, and final destination.

As would be expected, Mexican nationals comprised the vast majority of alien arrivals at the U.S./Mexico land border. However, Europeans also entered the U.S. through these ports, as well aliens from elsewhere in the world. For example, Syrians and large numbers of Japanese entered at Eagle Pass, Texas, in 1906 and 1907. Japanese, Turkish, Syrian, Guatemalan, and Korean citizens, in addition to many Europeans, entered at Laredo, Texas, 1903-1907. Citizens of Japan, Palestine, Syria, Canada, and the Philippine Islands are among those who entered at Brownsville, Texas. A scattering of U.S. citizen arrivals are also found in these records.

Why the Record Was Created

This database was created to facilitate the research of ancestors who crossed the Mexican border. The original customs records were maintained primarily for statistical purposes.

Record Reliability

This index, taken from the card manifests, is a reliable source for finding ancestors who crossed the Mexican border and entered into the United States between 1903 and 1957.

How to Use the Record

The database is an index in alphabetical order. There are two types of cards that can be found. One is an index card short form. These short forms, while valuable, do not contain as much information as can be found on the manifest. If you find an index card short form for your ancestor, be sure to try to locate the longer manifest form. Usually the information found in these records will identify the place and date of birth of the ancestor which allow for further research in the records of that place.

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Contributions to This Article

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 FamilySearch Historical Collections

When you copy information from the 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 do not find information, including the names of the people you looked for in the records.

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

Example of a Source Citation for a Record Found in This Collection

Border Crossings From Mexico to United States 1902-1957, index and images, FamilySearch (www.familysearch.org) accessed March 4, 2011, entry for Pablo Rendon Gonzales, arrived 4 Sepember 1928; citing Immigration Records, NARA publication number M1772 roll 61; National Archives and Records Adminstration in College Park, Maryland.

Citation for This Collection

The following citation refers to the original source of the data and images published on FamilySearch.org Historical Records. It may include the author, custodian, publisher and archive for the original records.

This is a digital index collection of original records housed at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in College Park, Maryland; data supplied by Ancestry.com. Border Crossings: From Mexico to U.S., 1895-1957 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2006. Ancestry.com.

Information about creating source citations for FamilySearch Historical Collections is listed in the wiki article Help:How to Create Source Citations For FamilySearch Historical Records Collections.