Monday, August 14, 2006

Ports, Immigrants, and Passenger Records

Whether they arrived by ship from Europe, Asia or somewhere else, or whether they came across the Canadian or Mexican borders, our immigrant ancestors usually came to the USA through a port of entry. Beginning in 1820 (and much later for the land border ports) their names were usually recorded on some kind of record for that port. These records are sometimes called "ship manifests" or "passenger lists" or "immigration records" or "alien arrivals" or something similar. Many of these records or copies of them have survived and they are kept at the National Archives (over the years some have been lost or destroyed). Quite a few of them have been microfilmed and some of these microfilms have been digitized and put online.

Here are the twelve most popular ports used by immigrants to the United States from 1820-1920 based on number of immigrant arrivals...

  • New York, New York
  • Boston, Massachusetts
  • Baltimore, Maryland
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • New Orleans, Louisiana
  • San Francisco, California
  • Key West, Florida
  • Portland-Falmouth, Maine
  • Galveston, Texas
  • Passamaquoddy, Maine
  • New Bedford, Massachusetts
  • Providence, Rhode Island
But there are many more ports where immigrants arrived.

Four years ago I made a webpage that listed all the ports I could find that have published immigrant arrival records. The page has been updated several times. I've been spending the last three days updating the webpage again - I added more ports and updated others - because the National Archives continues to publish more records of immigrant arrivals at ports. And more continue to go online.

You won't find every port here, but you will find a lot of them. They're arranged alphabetically by state. Included are links to lists of microfilm or research guides or finding aids or online records or whatever I could find to help you find your ancestor's name in the records of that port.

U.S. Immigration Ports and Their Available Records or Passenger Lists 1820-1957

If you aren't sure where your ancestor arrived, you might find this guide helpful: Tips for Determining Your Ancestor's Port of Arrival

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I must agree with Carlo!29; your Blog *is* excellent. My only problem is that the Line I am searching came over between 1750 & 1795...actually, two individuals were captured by the British, returned to England and then came over a second time...still before 1800....sigh, and the Brick Walss get higher...