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U.S. Passenger Arrival Records, 1820-1950s


U.S. Passenger Arrival Records, 1820-1950s

The starting point for documenting the voyages of your immigrant ancestors –and many native-born ancestors- should be the official customs lists and the later immigration manifests required by the U.S. government as of 1820.

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Latest Activity: Oct 28, 2020

Introduction: U.S. Passenger Arrival Lists, 1820 – 1950s

The starting point for documenting the voyages of your immigrant ancestors –and many native-born ancestors- should be the official customs lists and the later immigration manifests required by the U.S. government as of 1820.

U.S. passenger arrival lists are primary sources of information for both immigrant and native-born ancestors. We will also learn to search for more than one voyage for each ancestor, especially as many of the documents have online indexes and images.


A. Customs lists contain very basic information.
- Bureau of Customs (Treasury Dept.)
= name of vessel, date of arrival, port of arrival
= name of passenger, age, sex, occupation, country of origin

B. Original customs lists are available for 5 major ports, 1820 1891/1902:
New York, Boston, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New Orleans

C. Copies of customs lists are extant for 70 "miscellaneous" ports, generally 1820 1875.

D. Transcripts (1819-1839) and abstracts (1820-1875) are available as supplements.

E. Customs lists have pros and cons as a research source.

F. Immigration manifests contain many historical and biographical details.
- Immigration and Naturalization Service (Justice Dept.)
= name of vessel, date of arrival, ports used
= name of passenger, age, sex, occupation, place of birth, marital status, last residence, previous visits, final destination, name and address of relatives in the U.S. and former country of residence

G. Immigration manifests are available for over 40 ports, 1883-1950s.

H. Immigration manifests must be used very carefully.

I. Canadian and Mexican border records also help document immigrants to the U.S.

J. The National Archives and Family History Library have copies of these records.

K. Peculiarities in using passenger lists are not uncommon.

L. Records of ship arrivals may help your search.

M. Numerous passenger lists have been published in books, discs, and databases.
The most complete online collection is at Ancestry’s fee-based website.

N. You need not give up the ship when there are no indexes or poor indexes.

Discussion Forum

Golze immigration

Started by Kate Steere. Last reply by Karl-Michael SALA Sep 14, 2009. 5 Replies

Comment Wall


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Comment by Molly Buckley on May 23, 2011 at 11:04am

I'm trying to locate records for Daisy Griffin b. 1886/1887  from Ireland who went to Hawaii and married William Single (I have their marriage info).


Honolulu Passenger List 1900-1953

Daisy Griffin - Arrived in Honolulu or elsewhere in Hawaii? 


Index to Passenger Arrivals in Hawaii - Lists Daisy Griffin?


Any Hawaii census available showing Daisy & William Single/


I do not have access to these worldwide records through Ancestry...would anyone who does be willing to look them up and let me know the transcription. I can be reached at -


Thanks in advance,


Comment by Angela Tugwell on January 10, 2010 at 3:28pm
Callaghan McSwiney emigrated to the United States with his son Patrick, in 1849 on board the "Swatara" bound for Philadelphia.*

(*Facts confirmed from the
passport application 12 May 1905 for son Edward which stated that his father (Callaghan) emigrated to the United States sailing on board the Swatara from Liverpool on or about the 17th day of March 1849... "

The ship was bound for Philadelphia and was shipwrecked (ran aground) off the coast of Delaware, below Lewistown (later renamed Lewes). I have found reference to the 'The Hibernian Society' (in Philadelphia?) at a special meeting on May 12 1849 took action to render the large number of passengers, mostly Irish, aid and relief. (Source "Irish American Historical Miscellany, Chapter XXI, by John D. Crimmins).
The McSwiney family have been searching for years for the 'immigration records for Callaghan McSwiney (who later changed his name to O'Callaghan McSwiney).'
Could anyone enlighten me - in view of the shipwreck - as to whether these immigration records would have been produced at all, and if so where to look? Presumably there are the ship company's emigration records from Liverpool - but all documents on board went down with the ship.
Comment by Jolene Rebecca Connelly on October 3, 2009 at 8:30pm
Hello all. I was wondering if anyone has access in order to do a look-up in the Index to Records of Aliencs' Declarations of Intention and/or Oaths of Allegiance, 1789-1880, in US Circuit Court... from the Works Projects Administration.

I am in need of information on Andrew Mason his info said 9302, p.87 Vol 7

I'm kicking myself for not checking it when I was at the historical society, but I don't think I'll be able to get back there for a while. Any help would be greatly appreciated!
Comment by Donald Richard Mathieson on September 5, 2009 at 10:26am
Just joined , my biggest brick wall is trying to find out, where myGGGGGFather James F. Mathieson came to the U.S in 1863 from Canada,I've looked evrywhere , still nothing. any ideas
Comment by Unknown Ancestor on August 31, 2009 at 12:05am
Welcome, Kaye. I see your widow Carrie and her 4 children in 1900 in "N'awlins". That's a good start. What do her later census enumerations say about her naturalization status?
You'll notice in our text that N.O. was one of the busiest ports, but in 1886 she could have arrived elsewhere and trained to N.O. That's why you should search various ports indexed by Ancestry (if you have access to this fee site).

For best results, begin with her death and work backwards; see our Group on Documenting a Death. Caroline/Karoline/Carolina is a common name, so on your research log (To-Do List) make a note of each variant you try. Also, be aware that many women traveled under their maiden names.

The departure records for Hamburg have been indexed for 1850-1934, and are often more detailed than arrival records. The Germans were particular about their province of origin.
Comment by Unknown Ancestor on August 30, 2009 at 11:37pm
Robin, it's such a joy to see someone use those border crossing documents. Can you post some of your research log for Jennie? For example, since they migrated back & forth during times of war and immigration quotas, have you searched the passport applications?
Which of the 100 ports of arrival? Declarations of intention?

But backing up: which of the 11 children is your ancestor?
Have you contacted the Vintzel clan in Michigan who contributed to Ancestral File in the 1990s? (Charles 1917, George 1919, Mary 1921, James 1923?)
You may also want to get more historical clues by checking published genealogies of others from Lakonias: Costianes, Xydis families.
Comment by Robin R. Cordell-Inge on August 19, 2009 at 7:41pm
Comment by Robin R. Cordell-Inge on August 12, 2009 at 7:43pm
Ok this is the information I have....
Jennie Scopis as she has been known to me and other members of the family was born in Palaiopanagi'as, Lakonias, Greece on 17 Feb 1885 (per a greek document that I have) However, her headstone that I recently received a picture of from a Find-aGrave volunteer shows 1886. It says that her father's name is George Palaiopanagia'as and that she is the spouse of Demitro Faleri, known to the grandchildren and great-grandchildren as Frank K. Faleris. They had 11 children total. Six where born in Greece and two of them remained in Greece when they migrated to America/Canada. The rest were born in Canada. I show she arrived in Detroit MI, on 6 May 1923. This information was found through a boarder crossing doc from Canada to the US 1895-1956 and a Detroit Crossing and Passenger and Crew List 1905-1957. Then on 24 May 1923, shows she resided in Canada per the boarder crossing document. I do not know when she and her husband and some of her children came here from Greece. I also dont know when she moved to St. Ignace MI. I do know that her youngest daughter was born in Colburg, Canada in 1921. I just realized that they had two children born in Baltimore Maryland in 1908 and 1909, the next 2 children were born in Hamilton and Ownend Sound Canada, then another Childn in 1918 born back in Greece. Then the last two children were born back in Canada in 1919 and 1921.
Comment by Kaye D. Karl on August 11, 2009 at 8:34pm
I am looking for an ancestor that arrived (according to census 1900) immigration- 1886 living in Louisiana children born 1887-1892 but I don't know how she got here- vessel, port, route, etc. came from Germany her name: Carrie Karl -where/how do I start -I'm new at this any advice is appreciated. Thanks-
Comment by Robin R. Cordell-Inge on August 11, 2009 at 5:42am
I will go look this evening. The problem is, not sure what year they came to America. But I do have information about when they came to MI. Will check and see if I can find something, but I know it was after 1885....

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