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Library of Congress - Immigrant Arrivals: A Guide to Published Sources

Tips for Finding Your Ancestors Arrival in the United States.

A Guide to Interpreting Passenger List Annotations by Marian L. Smith Historian, U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service.  Passenger lists dating after 1892,  are frequently found to have a variety of markings, codes, and annotations squeezed into the margins and small blank spaces above and behind information written in the list form's columns.   What do they all mean?



There are numerous compilations available in book or microfische form including, but certainly not limited to the following:

Digitized images of passenger arrival records of the U.K.,Hamburg, New South Wales,Austraia and the U.,S.

The U. S. lists include :

 New York, 1851-1892, with a search engine for finding one passenger among the estimated eleven million names.
Also passenger arrivals at Baltimore, 1820- 1852; Boston, 1821-1850; and New Orleans, New York and Philadelphia, 1820- 1850. Also passenger arrivals at many other ports in many other years, including colonial period arrivals.
Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore Steamship Arrivals 1890 - 1930

American Family Immigration History Center . Digitized images of the passenger arrival records of New York, 1892-1924, with search engine for finding one passenger among the twenty-two million names.

The Morton Allen Directory of European Passeger Steamship Arrivals.(No passenger lists)
For the Years 1890 - 1930 at the Port of New York and For the Years 1904 - 1926 at the Ports of New York, Philadelphia, Boston and Baltimore. Genealogical Publishing Company (January 1, 2001)
See for free online search of the directory.

Boston Passenger Arrivals, 1848-1891. Massachusetts state copies of federal lists.

Castle Garden aims to post all New York passenger arrival lists, 1830-1892.

The Compass : a concise and factual compilation of all vessels and sources listed, with reference made of all of their voyages and some dates of registration / compiled by Lawrence B. Bangerter. (2 volumes)

Passenger and Immigration Lists Index: A Guide to Published Arrival Records of More Than 3, 806,000 Passengers Who Came to the New World between the Sixteenth and the Twentieth Centuries.  Originally 3 vols. Supplemental volumes published annually and gathered every few years into "cumulative supplements." Filby, P. William, eta/., eds. Detroit: Gale Research Co., 1981-present.

Glazier, Ira A., and P. William Filby, eds. Italians to America: Lists of Passengers Arriving at U.S. Ports, 1880-1915. Wilmington, Del.: Scholarly Resources, Inc., 1992-present. 20 vols. On-going; completed so far up to 1902.

Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, Boston-- Individual Arrival Cards, 1882-1929. This is an index to the 24,000 cards available on microfilm. Some cards pre-date 1882 and some postdate 1929.

Migration from the Russian Empire, Lists of Passengers Arriving at the Port of New York: October 1882-April 1886 by Ira Glazier

San Francisco Ship Passenger Lists. 4 vols.  Original San Francisco arrival lists prior to 1893 were destroyed by fire. Rasmussen "reconstructs" them by using other contemporary sources, 1850-1875. Rasmussen, Louis J.Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1978.

Registers of Vessels Arriving at the Port of New York 1789 - 1919. See for a list of Microfilm Catalog Numbers for both the National Archives and the Family History Library

Rhode Island Passenger Lists. Three alphabetical listings: 1) alien registration lists for Providence, 1798-1808; 2) customs passenger lists for Providence, 1820-1872; 3) customs passenger lists for Bristol and Warren, 1820-1871. Taylor, Maureen A. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1995.

A Supplemental Index to Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Atlantic and Gulf Coast Ports, 1820-1874. National Archives Micropublication M334. Contains some pre-1848 Boston passenger arrivals and some pre-1853 New Orleans passenger arrivals, thus supplementing the indexes for those ports. Also contains arrivals at all other major ports except New York, and about 60 minor ports.



 Passenger Lists for Galveston, 1850-1855.  Translation of lists printed in Hamburg and Bremen newspapers. Indexed. This material has been incorporated into the Galveston Immigrant Database at the Texas Seaport Museum ( Blaha, Albert J.

Bremen Passenger Lists, 1920-1939, are currently being transcribed and up-loaded to the Internet at, with a search engine to help find one passenger among the many.

Antwerp Emigration Index.  Lists 5,100 emigrants from Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Belgium, France and the Netherlands who embarked from Antwerp during 1855. Hall, Charles M. Salt Lake City: Heritage International, 1986.

Hamburg Emigration Lists, 1850-1934, are now available at

Reconstructed Passenger Lists for 1850: Hamburg to Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, and the United States. 4 vols. "Reconstructed" lists based on Hamburg Emigration Lists. Smith, Clifford Neal.McNeal, Ariz.: Westland Publications, 1980.
Ancestors On Passenger lists of over 24 million records from ships sailing from the British Isles to destinations worldwide 1890 - 1960

The Immigrant Ancestors Project, sponsored by the Center for Family History and Genealogy at Brigham Young University, uses emigration registers to locate information about the birthplaces of immigrants in their native countries, which is not found in the port registers and naturalization documents in the destination countries. Volunteers working with scholars and researchers at Brigham Young University are creating a database of millions of immigrants based on these emigration registers.

Books and Articles

Colletta, John P. They Came in Shjps: A Guide to Finding Your Immigrant Ancestor's Arrival Record, 3r ed. Orem, Utah: Ancestry, Inc., 2002. Describes available records and indexes, colonial times to mid-twentieth century, and explains how to find one passenger among the millions.

Cyndi's List of Genealogy Sites on the Internet ( links to over 440 sites with information about ships, passenger lists, and crew lists.

"Immigration Records" is an informative essay at the World Wide Web site of the National Archives,

Konecny, Lawrence H. "Galveston's Missing Passenger Lists." FORUM 6, no. 2 (summer 2001): 1, 13-14. Discusses what records are and are not available.

Krasner-Khait, Barbara. "If Not Through New York, Then Where?" Family Chronicle, March/April2000: 9-11. Discusses other ports of entry for immigrants.

Meyerink, Kory L. "Immigration Sources." Chapter 14 in Printed Sources: A Guide to Published Genealogical Records. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1998. Thorough overview of published passenger arrival information.

__ ,and Loretto Dennis Szucs. "Immigration Records." Chapter 9 in The SOURCE: A Guidebook of American Genealogy, 3rd ed. Provo, Utah: Ancestry, 2006. Superb discussion of resources and methods for tracing immigrant ancestors in the United States and country of origin.

Mokotoff, Gary. "Strategies for Using the Ellis Island Database." FORUM, the journal of the Federation of Genealogical Societies, vol. 13, no. 3 (fall 2001 ): 17-20. Detailed discussion of the strong points and weaknesses of the Web site of the American Family Immigration History Center. Additional information and link to available at

National Archives Trust Fund Board. Guide to Genealogical Research in the National Archives, rev. ed. Washington, D.C.: NATF, 2000. Chapter 2, "Passenger Arrivals and Border Crossings," provides a thorough description of the various kinds of arrival lists and the indexes to them.
__ . Immigrant and Passenger Arrivals: A Select Catalog of National Archives
Microfilm Publications, rev. ed. Washington, D.C.: NATF, 1991. Roll-by-roll
catalog of microfilmed lists and indexes. Up-dated at

Potter, Constance. "St. Albans Passenger Arrival Records." Prologue: Journal of the National Archives 22, no. 1 (spring 1990): 90-93. Describes National Archives records and indexes of immigration across the Canadian border, 1895-1954.

Prechtei-Kiuskens, Claire. "Mexican Border Crossing Records." NGS Newsmagazine.
"Part 1: How and Why Immigration Records Were Collected," May/June 1999:
156-159; "Part 2: The Information Collected," July/August 1999: 182-183; "Part
3, "Available Microfilm Publications," September/October 1999: 278-281.

Smith, Marian L. "The Creation and Destruction of Ellis Island Immigration Manifests." Prologue, Journal of the National Archives 28, no. 3 (fall 1996): 240-245; and no. 4 (winter 1996): 314-318. In-depth study of the Immigration Passenger Lists for the port of New York.

__ . "Immigration through Great Lakes Ports of Entry, 1895-1955." Audiotape of lecture, S-148: Repeat Performance (, 1998.

Tepper, Michael H. American Passenger Arrival Records: A Guide to the Records of Immigrants Arriving at American Ports by Sail and Steam, rev. ed. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1993. Thorough overview of ship lists and other types of records providing immigrant arrival information. Important bibliography.