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    Emigration - Immigration

'Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free' The wretched refuse of your teeming shore; Send these, the homeless, tempest to me ... 
"The New Colossus"  Emma Lazarus,

Welcome to America! 

Without Emma Lazarus' poem, Ms. Liberty would be just another statue


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America is a nation of immigrants where more than 35 percent (closer to 4o%) of the population  -- or 100 million Americans -- has at least one relative who passed through Ellis Island - a tiny spot of land, part New York's, part New Jersey's, from 1892 until 1954. There was an incredible surge of Jewish immigration into the United States that began in the late 19th century.  The two million Jews who arrived here between 1880 and 1924 helped make this nation an industrial, financial, cultural and global power.

Of the 12 million people who arrived at Ellis Island between 1892 and 1954, only two percent were sent back. Immigrants sailed to America and other countries in hopes of carving out new destinies for themselves and their families.  Most were fleeing religious persecution, political oppression and economic hardships.  Thousands of people arrived daily on steamships from mostly Eastern and Southern Europe.  The first and second class passengers were allowed to pass inspection aboard ship and go directly ashore.  Only steerage passengers had to take the ferry to Ellis Island for inspection.

"This marks an immigrant's first footstep in America, and provides information leading back to Europe and forward into America, stated Pet Zitko, spokeswoman for The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc." "It must be remembered that there were no rabbis in America in the colonial and early period of American independence. Women joined with men to start congregations. These Jews were mostly Sephardic, but Jews began to leave Germany and central Europe around 1820, and a small immigration continued until the 1880s when pogroms and other circumstances produced a rush of Jews from eastern Europe and especially Russia."

The history of Jewish immigration has not only been the story of Jews who moved from one country to another to better their lives, but also one of newcomers who built and enriched the nations they chose to now call their home.

"In the early 19th century in Germany (before there was much of an exodus to the USA from eastern Europe), groups of young Jews from one town would band together, exchange information, and eventually proceed as a group, on foot, for the ports, often settling down together in the same town when they arrived in the USA. These were probably the original Fusegangers."

"By 1850 Western and Central Europe had an effective railroad network. It had reached well into Russia by the end of the century. There were up to four different 'classes' and prices; the 4th class with hard wooden benches and no frills was for the working poor. I doubt very much that it would have been commonly cheaper to walk long distances than to ride by train, factoring in the cost of shoe leather and food. Certainly it would have severely limited how much of one's possession one could take into the new world. There was also a good chance that one might get robbed on the roads and lose the money for the trans-Atlantic ticket."

Since 1906, arriving aliens were divided into two classes:

1.) Immigrants, or those who intended to settle in the U.S. or 

2.) Non-immigrants, or aliens who declared an intention not to settle in the U.S., and all aliens returning to resume domiciles formerly acquired in the U.S. 

Non-immigrants were alien residents of the U.S. returning from a temporary visit abroad, or non-resident aliens admitted to the U.S. for a temporary period, such as tourists, students, foreign government officials, those engaged in business, people representing international organizations, the spouses and unmarried children of all these individuals, and agricultural laborers from the West Indies


Immigrating to The United States in the Modern Era

In modern times immigrants come from all over the world, by boat, by plane, in cars, or by walking across the Canadian or Mexican border. Because of ever changing economic situations, trends in immigration are constantly changing. The influx of new people and culture affects the population of the country, particularly in large cities, where resources are more readily available. Immigration trends also affect employment, education, and medical care. The nationalities of people who immigrate at any given time will also fluctuate. While Europeans made up the majority of immigrants in the past, current trends show that most immigrants now come from Mexico and China. Another, more troubling trend is the number of illegal immigrants coming to U.S. Illegal immigration is predominately associated with South America, and with Mexico in particular. Some research, however, indicates that the number of illegal immigrants as well as the number of legal immigrants are on the decline.

America is widely considered to be a “melting pot” into which diverse cultures mix and form a union which has worked toward being harmonious and united. Immigration laws were highly restrictive in the past, denying citizenship to blacks and other groups. Over time, however, these laws have been mainly liberalized. Illegal immigration has become a source of controversy and debate. As a result, states are creating new laws in efforts to control immigration. Some of these laws are viewed as discriminatory, particularly to certain ethnic groups. In Arizona, for example, new immigration laws would require people to show their identification in order to prove their legal status. People in opposition of this law feel that it unfairly marks people of certain ethnic groups, and will force legal citizens born and raised in the U.S. to show identification Thanks for this link, Kelsey Grimms

A third charter note of the Kalamazoo National Bank and Trust Company depicts President Benjamin Harrison

Fußgänger (Fussganger)

"I suspect the term Fußgänger came into more general meaning among Jews to perhaps mean emigrants in general (possibly limited to those going as a group). In the late 19th century there were passenger ships sailing out of the Baltic and Black Sea ports; it would have made little sense for a Jew to walk from the Pale to Bremen if he could take a train (or, if necessary walk) to Konigsberg or Danzig and get on a ship there."

"We should always remember that both hardships and pleasures tend to grow in intensity as their history is remembered over the years and handed down through the generations." From a posting by Michael Bernet

"Most Jews emigrated to North America in the 1880-1925 period. This means that their transatlantic passage was on a steamship and their inland travel by rail (rather than riverboat.)

"Around half of the immigrants to Chicago and the Northern States entered the USA through Canada. Quebec was the major port, used from May to October, while Halifax and Saint John, NB were mainly used from November until April. Trains, often special immigrant trains, carried the passengers inland. Immigrants arriving after 1895 should be recorded in the US St. Alban's border entry records, which are indexed. If an immigrant is found in these records, the name of the transatlantic ship is usually noted, and the immigrant can be found on the Canadian manifests, which are microfilmed but not indexed."
From a posting by Harry Dodsworth af877@freenet.carleton.ca

Ships that landed in St. John in New Brunswick in 1912 - their records are contained in the National Archives in Ottawa.  Landings in 1912 records, span almost three reels.  In some cases, there are about 1,500 immigrants per ship.  The readability of the records varies from very good to illegible.  The Archives holds records until 9-30-1922 .  Information regarding available records for various ports and dates can be found



Further ... "many immigrants to the USA came through Canada. The huge lists of ship passenger to Canada exists today in the National archives in Ottawa. On those lists the Canadian authority wrote down a note about a passenger destination. The individuals without American visa spent some months in Halifax or some other camps before being transferred either by train or another ship to the USA. The trains departed from Montreal to Boston (info could be found in NARA), the ships went from Halifax to St. Albans or Boston (also Nara). To search in National Archive in Ottawa, you have to know the year of arrival. All information is on microfilms (none is on the Internet) From a posting by Irene Kudish

"The FHC has microfilms of the 1891 Passenger Manifests of ships arriving at Quebec City.  Many of those listed indicated that their final destination was the American Midwest and West (e.g. Chicago, Portland, Oregon, etc.) as well as the western Canadian provinces (i.e. Winnipeg) "In some instances, their manifests indicate the passenger was proceeding to Montreal by steamer.  Others seem to suggest that some passengers already held RR tickets to their destination."

"Clearly for some, this was a more direct route.  You may not realize that New York Central RR trains from NYC to Detroit or Chicago actually crossed into Canada at Buffalo** and then reentered in Detroit."

** There are separate rolls of Buffalo immigration at NARA

"The railroads, as well as the Homestead Act were a basis that attracted many immigrant farmers to the northern plain States."

"I understand that prior to 1892 or 3, (the St Albans lists) there were no specific records kept of Canadian to US immigration."  From a posting by Morton Cohen

Canadian Immigration Surname Search

Ellis Island Immigrant Ancestor Register on-line


Finding Passenger Lists 1820 - 1940s


Germans to America
Lots of links including passport applications, ship manifests - much of it
is in English, while some only in German



Jews from Austria-Hungary
would legally cross the German border, journey to Berlin and then to the ports of embarkation.




Jews from Romania
traveled mostly through Vienna and Frankfurt and then to the Dutch ports; some traveled from Trieste or Fiume




Jews from the Ukraine and southern Russia
would cross the Austro-Hungarian border illegally, travel by train to Vienna or Berlin and regroup at major ports of embarkation: Hamburg, Bremen, Rotterdam, Amsterdam Antwerp.


Jews from western or northern Russia
would cross the German border surreptitiously and proceed to Berlin and the northern ports.

Routes between Canada and North Dakota in the 19th century
The main route was up the Red River Valley, initially by water and later by rail.  The Canadian Pacific Railway reached Winnipeg from the east around 1883, the Northern Pacific Railroad arrived at Winnipeg from Pembina, North Dakota at about the same time. For many years before this, the easiest route from Eastern Canada to Winnipeg (previously Fort Garry, Red River Settlement) was through Chicago and up the Red River Valley.

Railroad Station in Minneapolis circa 1900

"Trade and Immigration: From Minneapolis to the Old World and Back"
An article written by Peter Rachleff talks about how emigrants from the Old World come to the New World, farm and manufacturer flour, which then is shipped back to the Old Country because it was cheaper to do then grow it and then use the same ships to bring back to the New World more emigrants.

"At the turn of the 20th century the western world, particularly the United States of America, attracted the ambitious workers in the shtetl to migrate to America. Motl Horelick did not deliver the mail but late in the afternoon. The field in front of his house became crowded with all the families that expected mail from America. Vicariously even those that did not receive mail were listening to the wonders written to their relations and friends. Now the whole shtetl was in the throes of a social upheaval. In the early 1900’s the desire to migrate accelerated and the very pattern of living changed. For those who could not read, Motl read the wonders of America out loud.

To migrate was very difficult. Money was the enormous handicap to cope with. However, they became aware of its impact of acceptance by the authorities. Practically everyone left illegally conniving and bribing all the way."

Surname Searches

United States Immigration from 1840 - 1924 - A Chronology

1840 Cunard Line is founded, beginning the era of steamship lines especially designed for the
          transportation of passengers between Europe and the United States.
1846 Crop failures in Germany and Holland send thousands of dispossessed to the United States.
1846-47 Irish potato famine causes mass emigration of all classes of the Irish population to the
              United States.
1855 Castle Garden immigrant depot opens in New York City to process mass immigration.
1861-65 Large numbers of immigrants serve on both sides of the American Civil War.
1882 First federal immigration law bars lunatics, idiots, convicts and those likely to become public charges.
1882 Outbreak of anti-Semitism in Russia triggers a surge in Jewish migration to the United
1882 Chinese Exclusion Act is adopted; the first time a group of people is barred from the US solelybased on their national identity.
1886 Statue of Liberty is dedicated in New York Harbor.
1891 Congress adds medical status to immigration restrictions.
1891 Violent pogroms swell the continued exodus of Jews from Russia.
1892 Ellis Island replaces Castle Garden as a processing center for immigrants.
1894 Immigration Restriction League organized to spearhead the restrictionist movement for the next 25 years.
1914-18 World War I brings an end to the period of mass migration to the United States.
1916-18 Thousands of immigrants return to Europe as soldiers for the United States Army.
1917 Literacy test for immigrants finally adopted after being defeated by Congress for more than twenty years.
1921 Emergency Immigration Act introduces a quota system, heavily favoring natives of Northern and Western Europe and restricting those from Southern and Eastern Europe.
1923 Ku Klux Klan’s anti-immigration movement reaches peak strength.
1924 National Origins Act is adopted, setting a ceiling on the total number of immigrants and
          establishing discriminatory national-racial quotas, effectively closing the door on

"I've noticed that *many* of your family searches are for *names* that we have here in Australia. Just to let people know that, when conducting family searches, they should not forget the possible Australian connection of about 100,000 Jews.   Jews have been here for over 200 years.

Melbourne [Australia] has the largest Jewish population of approx. 40,000 and has the second highest settlement of Holocaust survivors in the world after Israel.   It has the only Holocaust Museum set up by actual survivors, as well as a Jewish Museum.  Most of the post-war Jewish immigration to Melbourne consisted of Polish Jews, with German Jews settling pre-war. The Hungarian Jews came after 1956 but most tended to settle in Sydney, Australia [which also has a Jewish Museum]. Russian Jews followed while the South African Jews have been the more recent immigrants. Other main centres of Jewish settlement are Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane and Canberra.  All of these cities have synagogues of various congregations, as well as Jewish Burial societies which also house family records e.g. Melbourne Chevra Kadisha

Family searches can be accessed via our phone books

specifying which town e.g. Melbourne, as well as the Australian Jewish News at

Various Jewish Community Councils are also a good source of information, as well as the Victorian Government Immigration Museum and the Dept. of Immigration, Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs at
From a posting by Adele Meren Melbourne, Australia


Passengers (Manifests, Affidavits, Passports, etc.)

Affidavits for Visas

In the 1930s, Jews wishing to immigrate to the US needed a Visa, obtainable from a nearby US Consulate. In order for a Visa to be issued, assuming a quota was met, one first had to have an Affidavit (s) from US residents (citizens?) who would vouchsafe the individual so that he/she would not become a financial burden on society. Thus, relatives, friends and sometimes strangers were beseeched for such Affidavits.


Ancestry.com has the following site
1795-1925 U.S. Passport Applications

Alien Resident Registration

In 1940, in response to threats of war, the US required every alien resident to register at their local Post Office. Aliens filled out a two page form, which was numbered and sent to the INS. Once the AR-2 form had been process, the AR-3, or Alien registration Receipt Card (AR-3) was torn off and mailed to the registered alien. The alien then carried the AR Card to show compliance with the law.

The form contains information including many names (the name used upon entry to the US; Maiden Names; Nicknames; Aliases), Address, Date of Birth, Place of Birth, Citizenship, Sex, Marital Status, Race, Physical Description, Date, Port and Vessel/Carrier of Last Arrival in the US, Class of Admission, Date of First Arrival in the US, Number of Years in the US, Occupation and Employment information, Membership Information (Clubs, organizations, societies), Military Service (Country, Branch, Dates) Declaration of Intention and Petition for Naturalization Information, Number of Relatives living in the US (Parents, Spouse, Children), Arrests and more!

How to get copies:
Early registrations (c. July 1940-April, 1944/A-numbers below 12,000,000) are on microfilm in INS custody, searchable by name, date of birth and place of birth. These records are subject to the FOIA/Privacy Act. It takes around 6 months. Details can be found at 

U.S. Department of Justice, Immigration and Naturalization Service
Attn: Ave M. Sloane, Chief. FOIA/PA Unit,
425 I Street, NW, 2nd Floor ULLICO Bldg.,
Washington, DC 20536

Form Request # COW2000008445

Under Freedom of Information Act (FOIA ), the INS will not release the information unless you can a) prove they are deceased, or b) have a notarized form from them, releasing the information to you.

The INS will accept a statement from you saying they are deceased if you can find their name in one of the Social Security Death Indexes (SSDI) found at Ancestry.Com RootsWeb.com or LDS.org, etc. and write that they are deceased as proved by being located in the appropriate SSDI.

From a posting by Edmond Frost frostedmond@hotmail.com

Births and Deaths while crossing the high seas

Births, Marriages and Deaths on British ships
were recorded by the captain and passed to the Board of Trade.  These records have been microfilmed and are available from 1854 to 1890 through the LDS (Microfilm numbers: 1414469 to 1414472.  These records were passed to the Registrar-General and form a series of supplements to the regular GRO indexes.

The following text is from "Where to Write for Vital Records" published by the U S Department of Health and Human Services. "When a birth or death occurs on the high seas, whether in an aircraft or on a vessel, the record is usually filed at the next port of call.

1. If the vessel or aircraft docked or landed at a foreign port, requests for copies of the
    record may be made to the U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC 20522-1705

2. If the first port of entry was in the United States, write to the registration authority in
    the city where the vessel or aircraft docked or landed in the United States.

3. If the vessel was of U S registry, contact the local authorities at the port of entry
    and/or search the vessel logs at the U S Coast Guard Facility at the vessel's final port
    of call for that voyage.

This would suggest that a birth on a ship bund for Boston would be recorded in Boston when the ship docked. The source pamphlet does not cite any specific legislation, nor the dates on which these rules became effective, so the law may have been different a century ago.  From a posting by Ted Gostin


and contains a list of all INS offices.  You can download the necessary forms. If the person that you want to obtain copies of naturalization papers is deceased, you need to prove that the person is deceased (e.g., with a death certificate).  A Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for information will have to be submitted.  Here is information about INS FOIA requests and the form that has to be submitted:




INS Microfilm Reel# List
This website has a load of good information and instructions on securing INS records for genealogical purposes.  Website lists Information on: Ship Passenger Manifests, Land Border Arrival records, Visa Files 1924-1944, Alien Registration records

New York Naturalization

for Brooklyn naturalizations. The records are kept in the Kings County Clerk's Office.  The National Archives houses Southern District of NY records of naturalization but not all districts in NY or all courts. 

Joan Parker housemom@att.net wrote... "I understand I can send/pay for copies [of naturalizations] from NARA on Varick Street in NY. Does anyone know if FOIA gets their unreadable copies from NARA in NY."

"The BCIS (formerly INS) makes copies from its own microfilm. The National Archives-Northeast Region on Varick Street in New York holds the original naturalizations created in NYC's two federal courts (Southern and Eastern Districts) and can make better copies."  Money-saving tip: Italian Genealogy Group website

where many of us are using the Southern District naturalization index, says to send NARA $10 per name when requesting copies of naturalization records. In fact, NARA policy is to copy up to three person's records for $10 (maximum 20 pages total).
 From a posting by Renee Stern Steinig rsteinig@suffolk.lib.ny.us

National Archives & Records Administration (NARA)
Northeast Region,
201 Varick Street, New York, NY 10014- 4811

Email: : archives@newyork.nara.gov   
A cc of the request should be filed with the Acting Director

NY Federal Records Center
National Archives & Records Admin (NARA)
Bldg. #22 Military Ocean Terminal
Bayonne, NJ 07002-5388
karen.lucas@bayonne.nara.gova/o center&bayonne.nara.gov

San Francisco (and more)

Wisconsin Registration for Naturalization
Archives of the University of Wisconsin

Stevens Point
, Wisconsin. Phone: 715 346 2586

University of Wisconsin-Parkside
Has records for Racine and Kenosha counties

Cimorelli's Emigration and Immigration FAQs



Form Code 500
(depending on the period it might read 1500 but the suffix is the same)

500 or 1500 - First Class
500 or 1500A - Second Class
500 or 1500B - Steerage or third class

The designation "steerage" was dropped from official language by the early 1930s.

Between 1892 and 1924, designation for arrivals through Ellis Island should end in the letter "B".  After January 1924, because Ellis Island was used as a detention center as opposed to a standard immigration station, it is not uncommon to find people who traveled second and, on rare occasions, in first class who end up on Ellis Island for political reasons.

Basically in the early days, Ellis Island was meant for those who couldn't afford better tickets.  The theory was that if you couldn't afford a better ticket your chances of carrying disease, have  criminal past, being mentally unstable, and/or being unable to support your family, were much higher." From a posting by Rafi Guber Talner@aol.com

Canada Consular Records - 20th Century

Consular Records
They are in the Federal Records Center in Suitland, Maryland.  The bulk of the record group was not on microfilm when last checked. (The Consulate documents are in boxes). The Consular Records were moved to Archives II.





Castle Garden
, from the river - January 10, 1852


It is important to remember that Ellis Island did not open until January of 1892. Therefore, searching for anyone before that date, came through Castle Garden (aka Castle Clinton) C. 1855-1890, or the Barge Office, c. 1890-1891 and 1897-1900. On November 12, 1954, Ellis Island, the gateway to America, shut its doors after processing more than 12 million immigrants since opening in 1892.  Today, an estimated 40 percent of all Americans can trace their roots through Ellis Island, named for merchant Samuel Ellis, who owned the land in the 1770s.

Also remember that New York was not the only port used. Canada, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Galveston, etc. were also points of immigration on the east coast.

"Index of 1890-1891 New York Immigrants from Austria, Poland, and Galicia"   

Ancestry.com's every-name index to passengers arriving in the Port of New York prior to the creation of Ellis Island is complete 1850-1891 except for the years 1871-74. The fee-for-service index



While searching New York records, many Birth records are not as good as the Marriage records because people didn't bother to register births. On the other hand, Death records are much better since a death certificate could not be issue unless proof of burial was provided. All of these records are available at the New York City Archives and indexes are available at the LDS libraries. You can write to the New York City Archives and ask for a search, if you can't visit the Archives in person.

Contrary to popular notion, not all Jewish immigrants to the U.S. came through Ellis Island and settled in New York or other cities along the Eastern Seaboard. Many of the more adventurous sought their fortunes along the ever-shifting frontier of the American West, which stretched from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean.

While the first Jews arrived in the West with the early Spanish expeditions of the 16th century, perhaps the true prototype of the Jewish pioneer of the 19th century was Solomon Nunes Carvalho who served as the official artist and photographer in the Fremont expeditions that explored vast tracts of the West, and then became one of the founding fathers of the Los Angeles Jewish community.

Many Jews left New York to settle in the Mid-West. Some took the Erie Canal from  Albany, the state capital, situated on the Hudson, across New York state to Buffalo, and then by boat across the Great Lakes. The Erie Canal, begun in July, 1817, was opened in stages from 1819 through 1825 when it was completed. The first Welland Canal opened four years after the Erie Canal. Both canals are still in operation today






Hungarian Jewish immigrants
, Adolph and Sam Frankel pose for a photo in Cushing, Oklahoma, in 1915. Photo courtesy of the Autry Museum of Western Heritage, Los Angeles

I suggest that you start your research and follow the steps outlined in 'Searching for an Immigrant's Origins: Quick Reference'

Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild
SS Gdansk - Danzig, Germany to Boston, Massachusetts










'The Great Hall' at Ellis Island as it looks like today.

Immigrating to a new country is not an easy endeavor, and this is not only in reference to the legal aspects of immigration. The processes, the forms, the waiting periods, the fees, yes, all of these can be very confusing and frustrating. However, the most troublesome part is in leaving one familiar place to permanently reside elsewhere, a place with a different language and different culture than yours. For immigrants, everything is strange and new, and though this might be the very thing that is exciting about moving to a new place, for many immigrants, the circumstances have been less than ideal. Having the company of family may be the only thing that makes immigration less difficult.  There is a lot of information in the following link provided by Stan Brickle

19th Century Polish Immigrants to USA

This site contains an extensive searchable database of records on approximately 90,000 passengers who arrived in the United States between 1834 through 1897 and identified their country of origin or nationality as Poland or Polish.

There are records of passengers who were U.S. citizens or non-U.S. citizens planning to continue their travels, returning to the U.S., or staying in the U.S. There are records of passengers arriving at the following ports: Baltimore, Boston, New Orleans, New York, and Philadelphia; the bulk of the records are for passengers arriving at the Port of New York

The 1903 Project Passenger Lists


Free download of all the lists
Download this file once a week, as it does change.  Unzip them to a subdirectory and click on your desktop, press F3 to search the subdirectory you placed the ship files in for your ancestors surname.  For a powerful search program that can search an unopened zip file, download the program "Examine" from


Allen County Public Library, Fort Wayne, Indiana

An excellent source for Canadian and Ellis Island Passenger lists as well as other material. 

The Canadian Archives

Has both passenger arrival lists and immigration cards for each immigrant.  If you can determine the date of arrival (naturalization documents?), you may be able to find both.

The Canadian government did not keep records of people leaving the country; however, in 1895, the United States established border ports along the International Boundary and began recording arrivals from Canada.  These lists are in the custody of the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, D.C. 20408

You will need the Soundex to go into the US National Archives microfilm series M1461 which is the St Albans Index where you will find the 3x5 card images.  The card image contains much of the information from the passenger list, including a pointer to that exact list.  The card image also contains a number in the form xxx-yy-z which points you to the volume (xxx) sheet (yy) and line number (z) of the exact microfilm in the series M1464 St Albans Passenger Lists for you to see the manifest.

Catalogs of Microfilm Publications

Pricing policy - Microfilm specifications and more

Certificate of Arrival

An excellent article on this subject is contained in the Spring 1996 issue of Avotaynu, entitled "Interpreting U.S. Immigration Manifest Annotations "Authored by Marian L. Smith.

Contrary to common assumption, the Certificate of Arrival was not issued at the time of arrival. It was issued after the Declaration of Intention was filed, confirming that the potential citizen had indeed arrived when he or she stated, and had been in the U.S. more than the minimum years required. It means that a clerk looked at the Declaration of intention, and used that information to find the original passenger manifest. The manifest was reviewed and they verified the individual and confirmed the information presented was correct. (This is also why sometimes people find Certificate of arrival numbers written on a passenger manifest).

The Certificate of Arrival
was filed with the Declaration and the ensuing Petition of Naturalization. It wasn't luck - it was bureaucracy. From a posting by Hilary Henkin

Changing Immigrant Names


Cimorelli's Emigration and Immigration FAQs



Cimorelli Immigration Manifests Online
Online by Tony Cimorelli - this is an on-line collection of databases comprised of the Morton Allan Directory, M1066 Microfilm series from NARA, various newspapers articles, Internet sources, and personal contributions

Morton Allen Directory
Includes an online version of the Morton Allen Directory which is used to locate ship arrivals by port, date, by ship's name; Magellan Ship Biographies between 1890 and 1930

Counselor Records Database

U.S. Dept of State, Jerusalem, Jaffa and Haifa Consular Post Records Database includes more than 9,000 entries, and was compiled from U.S. National Archives RG 84 (Record Group) Foreign Service Post Records of the U.S. Department of State for Consular Posts: Jerusalem (1857-1935), Jaffa (1867-1917), and Haifa (1872-1917)

Declarations of Intent and Naturalizations for New York County 1907-1924

It is on one of the more popular genealogy sites and it is available to those with a paid subscription. The Declarations of Intent seems to be lacking in important information - the dates on the individuals were missing. The Naturalization database is a lot more helpful. This same site also has Naturalizations for Minnesota.

The JGS of New York offers the Index to Naturalizations (Declarations and Petitions) filed in the Kings County (Brooklyn) Clerk's Office exceeds 216,000 entries

Family History Library (FHL) Catalog

They have a cross reference table to find information on ship traveling between Europe, Canada and the U.S.

Generally, catalog entries are written in the same language as the original record they describe.  You can order microfilms through your nearest Family History Center.  You can also use the microfilms, books and other items at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.


Federation of East European Family History Societies - using Federal Census and Federal Homestead records to obtain naturalization records

Finding Immigration records


Freedom of Information Form

Partial Inventory of forms

G639 - Freedom of Information Request (to get to US Naturalization
F81 -   Order for Copies of Ship Passenger Arrival Records at US ports
F82 -   Order for Copies of US Census Records
F80 -   Order for Copies of US Veterans Records (prior to WW I)

BC-600 - Application for Search of US Census Records (1930 and later)
Form 1609 - Tracing Inquiry (for Holocaust and other WW II Victims)
                   from American Red Cross
Form 180 - Request Pertaining to US Military Records WW I and after



You can request a form G639 by calling the INS at 1 800 870 3676.  If you need further help, call the INS help line at 1 800 375 5283.  Press 1 for the English option, then wait through the first set of six options and press 9 to talk to an agent.


"At the dock" for passengers on any HAPAG ships was not on Manhattan, but in Weehawken, N.J.  When a ship entered New York, it first had to anchor in a designated quarantine area off Clinton Point, Staten Island.  That day, special ferry boats, run by the Immigration Service, off-loaded all of
the 3rd class passengers bound for Ellis Island, unless it was during the period of June 14, 1897 to December 16, 1900, when a burned out Ellis Island was being rebuilt.

During this period, they went to the "Barge Office" - a part of the Old Customs House on The Battery (located in lower Manhattan) that was used by the service before Ellis Island was opened on January 1, 1892. 

Generally speaking, the first and second class passengers bound for Manhattan were off-loaded onto a HAPAG ferry boat that took them to Manhattan.

All aliens were taken to Ellis Island for processing before anyone was allowed to meet them.  Citizens of the U.S. were released at the dock and could go on their merry way.  If immigrants were traveling to destinations that were a great distance from Ellis Island (e.g. to Chicago, etc.) the alien had to have a paid ticket to get there and the immigration officers check the ticket.

All aliens had to prove that they had a 'sponsor' at the 'stated' destination.  Immigration officers did verify the truthfulness of this information.  Sponsors were not required to travel to New York to meet immigrants after they were approved and released by the immigration officer.  If the immigration inspector had any doubt about he disposition of an immigrant to a sponsor, they would release the immigrant to an immigrant aid society


Alphabetical List of ships


HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society)

The oldest international migration and refugee resettlement agency in the U.S.  It was founded by a group of Russian Jews, recent arrivals themselves.  HIAS representatives served as mediators and interpreters for the immigrants, found them housing and fed them until relatives or friends showed up, searched for relatives and friends who didn't show up, and put in all-nighters scouring the late editions of newspapers for jobs. Many people were relocated to the Midwest by HIAS originally for farming.

There are microfilm records for the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society's Philadelphia immigrant records, from 1884 to 1952, LDS films 1,550649 - 1,550655.  The records are alphabetical by first letter of the surname only.  Then it is chronological.  It is quite a job to search!


"120 HIAS Stories"
details the personal accounts of 120 immigrants assisted in our 12-decade history of rescue and resettlement. Among the storytellers are singer-actor Mandy Patinkin, whose grandfather, Max Patinkin, served on the HIAS Board of Directors after his own arrival in 1905 from Poland. Other stories are by or about ordinary and well-known American figures alike, such as Olympian Lenny Krayzelburg, who won two gold medals for the United States in 2000 and Hadassah Lieberman, wife of U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman. Visit  "Hall of Fame" to learn more about these contributors.

The story of HIAS is the story of the four-and-a-half million people who came to freedom since we opened our doors in 1881,” says Leonard Glickman, past President and CEO of HIAS. “Of course there are far more than 120 HIAS stories out there, but this book is special. It is our way of acknowledging all those people and their families who bravely made a start in a new homeland.” To order 120 HIAS Stories ($39.95, shipping and handling included), please mail a check to: 120 HIAS Stories, 333 Seventh Avenue, 16th Floor, New York, NY 10001-5004.

Arrival Records in Chicago

Boston HIAS Database, 1882 - 1929

Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild


Jewish Emigration and Immigration

Louisiana - New Orleans Passenger Lists, 1903 - 1945


New York Emigration and Immigration

Online Ship Passenger Lists and Records

Tracing Immigrant Origins


Going to a new country!






Hints and Lists for the Family Historian

Try this site for searching Passenger Lists using the LDS Family History Library Catalog

History, Genealogy and Education

This portion of the INS website contains information about the INS Historical Reference Library collection and services, documents concerning the history of the Service as well as of immigration law, procedure, and immigration stations, and instructions for historical and genealogical research using INS records. 

Contact Marian Smith 
INS Historian
425 I Street NW, 
Room 1100 
Washington, DC 20536 
Fax: 1 202 305 8251


Hull, England

Many emigrants who left from various European ports would travel to Hull where they would then transfer to a train that would take them to the port at Liverpool for the trans-Atlantic trip to either Canada or the US





Immigrant and Passenger Arrivals (NARA)

Catalog of NARA Microfilm Publications: Information and Links: the catalog lists National Archives microfilm publications of records relating to the arrival of passengers, crew members and vessels in United States ports, United States Customs records and Immigration and Naturalization records. The catalog includes complete roll listings for
every microfilm publication 


The following site offers many links including: Assimilation; Destination: Canada; Hamburg & Bremen; Immigrants and Epidemics; Immigration: Not Always A One-Way Street; Journey to America; Life In Canada; Immigration Ports of Departure and Arrival; Mariyampole beginnings to Canadian Residence; Reasons For Immigrating To America; Sample of a 1909 Ship Manifest; Ellis Island; Maryland Port Administration; Port of Philadelphia and Camden; The Immigration Experience and much, much more -
a real treasure 


Immigration and Naturalization (INS)

Americans encouraged relatively free and open immigration during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and did not question that policy. As the number of immigrants rose in the 1880s, and economic conditions in some areas worsened, Congress began to issue immigration legislation. Immigration records dating from July 1, 1924, remain with INS and are available only via the 'Freedom of Information Act' procedures. Records prior to 1924 are at NARA 

From around 1907 - 1910, people who were naturalized had to submit a certificate from the INS documenting where, when and what ship they arrived.

The index for New York arrivals starts with 1897



The National Archives (NARA) has been publishing Soundex guides that omitted a rule found in the original instructions, and the omission has been perpetuated in genealogical 'how to' books based on the NARA guides.  An updated guide to the Soundex Indexing System now appears on the NARA website at http://www.nara.gov/genealogy/coding.html 

The Soundex Index Cards
For passenger arrivals at New York are printed in a number of formats.  One format is especially obscure as shown by the following example.

Last Name, First Name 42m 18 39 7466
The names are understandable.  42 represents the age and the "m" is for male (only m and f appear in this field).  What is does the 39 and 7466 represent?

The answer can be found in the JewishGen Info File "How to Interpret New York Passenger Arrival Index Cards"





Immigrant Quarters  on board a ship

Immigration, Naturalization Passenger Lists and Ships  

Alphabetical Listing and Links to ships that served Australia and New Zealand, Canada, - Ships and Passenger Lists, England, Scotland and Ireland - Ships and Passenger Lists, Ellis Island, European Countries - Databases, Ships, Passenger Lists, Immigration to American Colonies -  Ships and Passenger Lists, Individual Ships and Passenger Lists, Information about Ships, Museums, Shipping Databases, The Mayflower, and miscellaneous links to helpful information regarding immigration

How To Utilize AFIHC
(American Family Immigration History Center at Ellis Island

 New York City's South Street port

Seamen's Protection Certificate Applications
The impressments of American seamen by the British was one of the causes of the War of 1812.  The practice also resulted in the creation of extensive records about merchant seamen that are of value to genealogists. These Seamen's Protection Certificate Applications for what might well be called a merchant seaman's passport have remained virtually untouched since they were originally file.  They are now organized and preserved, and those from the early years are already indexed according to an article in the Spring 1992 issue of Prologue and written by Ruth Priest Dixon.

After about 1815 the impressments of seamen ceased, but the Seamen's Protection Certificates had proved to be a valuable form of identification and continued to be issued until just before the Civil War.  The practice was resumed for a short time during the World War I ear.

The application records of the Port of Philadelphia are by far the most extensive and the easiest to use.  The records for 1814, 1824-1830, 1834, 1844 and 1854 are on computer.  In addition the customs collectors' "abstracts," quarterly reports of the SPCs issued, exist for about half the quarters for that port.  Abstracts are filed alphabetically by first letter of last name.  The WPA made two indexes of abstracts, one for New York and one for "Other Ports." the abstracts of course are one step removed from the original and do not contain all the information on the applications, which apparently were destroyed, but they are useful genealogical sources if the person you are looking for was a seaman. Some random records exist for about fifty other ports, primarily abstracts, registers and a few applications.

Because the purpose of the Seaman's Protection Certificate was to identify the seaman clearly, the application required his name, age, place of birth, physical description "as may be," and was either attested to by a knowledgeable person or by documentation. Boys as young as eleven and men as old as seventy-seven are on record.  The Atlantic seaboard states are well represented, most seamen coming from Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New York, Maryland, New Jersey and Delaware.  Other states are also represented and a good number were foreign born.

Note, when using the index to the Philadelphia applications or the WPA index to abstracts, it is important to look for more than a single name.  The index cards often reveal what appears to be family clusters.  While it is a more time consuming task, the Philadelphia customs inspectors' quarterly reports are a usable finding aid for un-indexed years.  Looking for seamen in other ports is less rewarding, but the WPA indexes to New York and Other Ports direct the researcher to the appropriate quarterly report for those ports.

Records of the US Customs Service, 1796 - WW I, Record Group 36; Records of the Bureau of Maritime Inspection and Navigation, RG 41.  Also see Guide to the National Archives of the United States (1974), pp. 168-172, 484; and Guide to Genealogical Research in the National Archives (1985) pp. 189-191




Immigration and Ships Passenger Lists Research guide

A well written guide by Arnold Lang to help in research of immigration records and ship's passenger lists, both on-line and off-line. This site is of great interest because it details how to find records before 1820, between 1820 and 1891, and after 1892 Remember that Ellis Island Records start at 1892.





Immigration Terminology
"A web site that defines terms used on ships carrying immigrants offers the following question and answer: "[Q] What does Between Decks ('tween deck) mean? Was it the same as steerage?

[A] The Between deck or 'tween deck as it's commonly known, is the deck below the main deck. This deck was frequently used for cargo on the homeward voyage and given a cursory cleaning with temporary partitions erected for steerage class passengers on the "outward bound" voyage. It was partitioned into dormitory accommodation usually with men one side and women the other. "

Based upon this, and without additional information, I would tentatively conclude that the term "zwischendeck[e]" meant steerage.  From a posting by Phil Shapiro

Ship Manifests Post-1893
Were made out by the shipping company's before the immigrant embarked in Europe. Shipping agents had a questionnaire to complete before the passenger's name would be entered on the manifest. This questionnaire was the information required by the U.S. government.

Sometimes passage was booked several months in advance of the actual trip. Sometimes passage was booked in the States for a relative in Europe. Going to information often changed between the ticket purchase and the actual arrival, but the manifest was not revised. While most male passengers were discharged on their own, women and children were "detained" until someone met them or an agent placed them on a train to their final destination. You may note an "X" at the far left of the name on the manifest. This means the person was detained. You should then check the List of Detained Passengers to see who actually met them/ who they were discharged to


Years 1885-1899 - Index to Greek Passengers Arriving in New York  



You can get the Detained Passenger Manifests at the end of each ship's pages.

I have seen "going to" information to be incorrect with respect to relationships-- frequently they were just a landsman who was already in America. In looking at passenger lists, sometimes you will see several persons from an area, apparently unrelated, all going to the same person. My favorite from Rechitza District in the 1904-1907 period was "H. Oppenheim", on Grand Street. My suspicion was a Landsmanshaft. One woman told me that her parents were active in a Landsmanshaft and they would regularly have someone meet the ship and total strangers would be put up for a night or two until they could be placed.

JewishGen has a wonderful Info File written by Marian Smith, the INS historian which explains the notations that may be found on the manifest. The Info File is far more extensive than her much earlier article in Avotaynu, and is a must read for anyone trying to understand all the markings on a manifest



And please, immigrants did not change the information on the manifest anymore than the inspector changed their names at Ellis Island. It was all written down in advance and merely checked off upon their arrival. The manifests listed the same language groups together, as required by the U.S. government, they were lined up according to their manifest order and place in lines with an appropriate interpreter. If a destination was changed, it would only appear on the detained list. If a name was changed, it was done by the immigrant or his parents or siblings-- or suggested by a teacher or employer. But that is another volume <grin>. (And are all the stories you tell your grandchildren, the absolute, bare truth???) This information was obtained from a posting on the BelarusSIG by Gladys Friedman Paulin CGRS,

To find the meanings to the 'X' and the other numbers, go to "Manifest Markings - A Guide to Interpreting Passenger List Annotations" - Click on "In the Left Margin ..."

"The NYC 1850-1891 manifest images exist ...they are indexed ..... and online too .... and easy to use!!! That's the good news."

The bad news is that you must find a nearby library with access to Ancestry's Immigration Records. I have found two in the NY area -- Stamford Ct. and the NY Public Library at 42nd St; even the Georgia State libraries have access. I'm sure there are more libraries with access... why not ask your library if they have access?" From a posting by Phyllis Kramer

The Central Office of the INS and the US Justice Department in Washington, DC, have wonderful libraries.

"For those interested in determining whether or not their ancestors who came into New York during the active years of Ellis Island as an immigration station (1892-1924) or at varying times (with breaks for many other different venues) when it served as a detention center (1924-1952).

The upper left hand corner of most manifests during the period has a class designation code which is generally as follows: (yes there were some exceptions so anyone thinking of writing a treatise about what I left out, try to remember that the people we write for here actually have real jobs, families and other interests so I try to convey the important facts as they have practical merit for our readership)


Immigration Records

More popularly known as "ship passenger arrival records," this site may provide evidence of a person's arrival in the united States as well as foreign birthplace.  The NARA has immigration records for various ports for the years 1800-1957

Searching for Passenger Manifests in London is not simple. The passenger manifests are filed year-by-year, then by port.  They are not indexed.  There is a book of ships names etc. which might help you. 

Hugh Reekie's Immigration from United Kingdom and Ireland to New Zealand

Ships to Philadelphia by year
Mostly from Rotterdam 1727 - 1738



Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild

A wonderful site where a lot more useful links are listed

which is the ISTG Home Page and

which is the Compass Home Page.

On-line availability of passenger manifests for the period of 1850-1950

or Olive Tree Genealogy

"Immigration and Ships Passenger Lists Research Guide"


Index of 1890 Baltimore Immigrants



Index of 1890 New York Immigrants from Austria, Poland, and Galicia


Index of all 1891 New York immigrants
From Austria, Poland and Galicia
Contact via Email: Howard Relles






Index to Microfilm Holdings in the Regional Archives


Index to Publications by Port


INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service)

This web site contains a list of all INS offices and you download the various forms.

Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS)
Annotations made on passenger lists at time of arrival of immigrant - just click on the underlined hyperlink 

Instructions for ordering microfilm publications from NARA


International Refugee Organization


LDS Passenger Manifests

'A Guide to Using the Passenger Lists at Your Local Family History Center"

Through the microfilms of the surviving lists.  The microfilms are at the National Archives and the Regional Branches of the National Archives have those films relevant to the areas they serve, and sometimes others as well. Other genealogical libraries and archives may have some of them.  The Family History Library in Salt Lake City has copies of all the microfilms, and you can access them through the thousands of Family History Centers operated with volunteer labor by the Mormons. There is certainly at least one in the Ann Arbor area.

Unfortunately, there are no indexes for the New York Passenger list from 1847 to 1897, but the lists for the other ports are indexed in one way or another."  From a posting by Peter Zavon

You can also access them through the Family History Centers, which borrow copies from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. There are many more Family History Centers than there are Regional Branches of the National Archives, and there are FHCs in countries other than the US. So for many people the FHC is more convenient than the National Archives, even though using an FHC is slower because of the need to order films and to use them only within the Centers.

"Just How Were Passenger Manifests Created?"
Sallyann Amdur Sack-Pikus explains in her article in Avotaynu, Vol. XXV, No 1, Spring 2009. Requires a subscription to Avotaynu.



Links to sites with instructions for obtaining immigration and naturalization records


Locating Ship Passenger Lists


Manifest Problems 


When searching databases i.e. Ellis Island, by entering an ancestor's last name (surname) and their first name as you knew it, most often you don't get a return or you get an incorrect return.  One cannot assume, that the name you are searching is not held in the database, or on a manifest because you don't get a 'hit'.  These are some of the reasons why this often happens.

1. Most of our ancestors were illiterate and could not even spell their own

2. The shipping company clerk put down what they 'heard' or thought they
    heard when the emigrant was asked what his name was.  The answer
    would vary widely due to the clerk's inadequate training and language
    background.  Also, the name could vary based on the immigrant's
    dialect.  Less popular languages and dialects tended to be butchered
    more often.

3. The shipping clerks had poor penmanship.

4. The shipping clerk confused the data of two passengers.

5. The thousands of volunteers encoding the manifests into a database have
    introduced a second level of errors due to such factors as:

     a. Variations in training and transcription methods

     b. Inability to properly recognize old-style script

     c. Typographical errors (mis-keyed data)

Additional errors introduced by the immigrant

     a. Immigrant did not understand the question and responded with
         an incorrect answer

     b. Immigrant was concealing information i.e. gave an incorrect age.

According to Bill Tarkulich who wrote an article published in GEN DOBRY dated May 31, 2001, and the source for this information, 'it is absolutely impossible to trust the data in the Ellis Island (AFIHC) database unless you can obtain corroborative evidence elsewhere.  This is true of any data point, but especially true with the encoded AFIHC data.  Don't try to construct a family tree based on the AFIHC data alone.'


Check Chronological Events
A method Bill describes as being 'extremely useful' is to construct a chronological table of events for your immigrant.  Include in this table the information you find suspect.  With all the data placed next to each other in chronological order, patterns begin to emerge.  He includes data about friends they may have traveled with - immigrants often traveled with friends and relatives.  For this exercise, you hope to be able to determine movement of immigrants.  By showing who bootstrapped whom to this country, indirect research can yield surprising evidence.

AFIHC Search Methodology
Many folks are often surprised at how different their names appear on the manifests.  

Here are some tips that are offered by Bill on how to utilize the AFIHC (American Family Immigration History Center) database at the Ellis Island site: 

1. Given Names were often changed by the immigrant AFTER arrival (after leaving Ellis Island) to an 'Americanized' version  Check this site

It is important to understand it was NOT the Immigration and Naturalization Service and NOT the officials at Ellis Island who changed their names.  For more information on this subject check out this site

2. Surnames usually have the first letter correct, sometimes even the first
    two or three letters. Beyond that, all bets are off.

3. Conduct a partial text search.  Go to the AFIHC search screen and enter:

                First name
                Last name

The result will locate someone, hopefully.

Now select 'Close matches only'.  This feature gives you any surname that begin with the 'Last Name' you specified.  You should find many matches - too many to look at individually.

Select 'Passenger Search Profile, Name & Gender' - EDIT.  At the bottom of the next screen, select 'male' as a way to shorten the list.  This will reduce the number of names.

Next, Select 'Passenger Search Profile, year of arrival' - EDIT.  If you don't know, you will have to guess a range of years.  Again the number of names will be reduced to a more manageable number.

Now look through each and every name for the last place of residence.  confirm that the first name is an equivalent of the known first name.  Confirm that the surname is a phonetic equivalent (or close, given spelling errors) to the surname you are searching. You MUST verify all this information by looking at the original manifest.  If the original manifest image is not on-line, go to the National Archives or an LDS Family History Center to verify.  This is especially critical when the expected name is wildly different.  Most often, you will find that the AFIHC transcriber did not correctly convert the handwriting to the proper letters.

Here is an alternative to the above search
Redo the first search, leaving the First Name blank.  

Secondly, begin to experiment with the second and third characters of the Last Name (surname).  It may not be a phonetic match you are looking for here, but a handwriting (or reading error).

Try to get the subset of data down to 200 records or less and then begin the manual search process. 200 lines are 8 screen loads at 25 names per screen.

Ignore the 'sailing from' and ship name information, as most often it is incorrect and extraneous information.  You will only need this if you can't find the immigrant through the AFIHC database. You will need to know this information if you want to look up the manifest by locating on microfilm, organized by date and ship.


The '%' character is a wildcard, meaning you can use the% to substitute it for one or more unknown letters in a name.

The more useful and powerful wildcarding technique is when a wildcard is embedded in the MIDDLE of a search string.




The immigration law of 1891 made it mandatory that all immigrants coming into the United States be given a health inspection by the Public Health Service physicians.  The law stipulated the exclusion of 'all idiots, insane persons, paupers or persons likely to become public charges, persons suffering from a loathsome or dangerous contagious disease,' and criminals.  The largest inspection center was on Ellis Island in New York Harbor.

is not an infectious disease and occurs on the inside of the eye whereas Trachoma is an infectious disease that prevented many emigrants from entering the United States.  Trachoma occurs on the exterior of the eye.  According to an Email: I received from Edward F. Stein, OD, and a fellow JewishGenner, 'simply stated, the plumbing system of the eyes interior gets 'fahr blone ghit'



Further information may be found on the screening of immigrants for Trachoma



Inspection of Immigrants


Medical Inspections
Immigrants with medical problems were labeled  with chalk marks on their shoulders


Marks definition as seen on Manifest Sheets
The medical inspectors apparently had a code that they used when examining immigrants.  The marks were chalked on the immigrants themselves. Explanation about the marks and additional information is available at these INS web sites





Detained or Deported, though generally the inspectors used a rubber stamp with the word


'DEPORTED' used for this designation*






Likely Public Charge






Feeble Mind


Most likely an X

*The steamship company was responsible for the expense to return the deported passenger back to the port of embarkation

Quarantine originates from the French "quarante", meaning forty.  Adding the suffix -aine to French numbers gives a degree of proximity to the figure (as -ish does in English). Quarantine, therefore, means "about forty."  Originally, when a ship arriving in port was suspected of being infected with a malignant, contagious disease, its cargo and crew were obliged to forego all contact with the shore for a period of about forty days.  The term came to be known as period of quarantine


Allen County Public Library, Fort Wayne, Indiana

An excellent source for Canadian and Ellis Island Passenger lists as well as other material. 


Catalogs of Microfilm Publications

Pricing policy - Microfilm specifications and more

Changing Immigrant Names




Cimorelli's Emigration and Immigration FAQs



Family History Library (FHL) Catalog

They have a cross reference table to find information on ship traveling between Europe, Canada and the U.S.  Generally, catalog entries are written in the same language as the original record they describe.  You can order microfilms through your nearest Family History Center.  You can also use the microfilms, books and other items at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.




Federation of East European Family History Societies - using Federal Census and Federal Homestead records to obtain naturalization records

Finding Immigration records


Freedom of Information Form

You can request a form G639 by calling the INS at 1 800 870 3676.  If you need further help, call the INS help line at 1 800 375 5283.  Press 1 for the English option, then wait through the first set of six options and press 9 to talk to an agent or click on the link below to create your own information request form



"At the dock" for passengers on any HAPAG ships was not on Manhattan, but in Weehawken, N.J.  When a ship entered New York, it first had to anchor in a designated quarantine area off Clinton Point, Staten Island.  That day, special ferry boats, run by the Immigration Service, off-loaded all of the 3rd class passengers bound for Ellis Island, unless it was during the period of June 14, 1897 to December 16, 1900, when a burned out Ellis Island was being rebuilt

During this period, they went to the "Barge Office" - a part of the Old Customs House on The Battery (located in lower Manhattan) that was used by the service before Ellis Island was opened on January 1, 1892. 


Generally speaking, the first and second class passengers bound for Manhattan were off-loaded onto a HAPAG ferry boat that took them to Manhattan

All aliens were taken to Ellis Island for processing before anyone was allowed to meet them.  Citizens of the U.S. were released at the dock and could go on their merry way.  If immigrants were traveling to destinations that were a great distance from Ellis Island (e.g. to Chicago, etc.) the alien had to have a paid ticket to get there and the immigration officers check the ticket.

All aliens had to prove that they had a 'sponsor' at the 'stated' destination.  Immigration officers did verify the truthfulness of this information.  Sponsors were not required to travel to New York to meet immigrants after they were approved and released by the immigration officer.  If the immigration inspector had any doubt about he disposition of an immigrant to a sponsor, they would release the immigrant to an immigrant aid society.

Migration Research *

Research by the Institute of Migration 



To contact NARA, use their form NATF 81 which is available on-line at

Obtain copies of National Archives records - a listing of microfilm that is available

National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)
A comprehensive explanation of the naturalization process and the location of naturalization records, depending on the state the person lived and the time period of the application; includes explanation of the two-step process as well ass the "exceptions" to the general rule

Mr. Charles Reeves is the Director of Archival Operations at the Southeast Regional office of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in Atlanta.

NARA - The Soundex Machine

This site includes a search engine to obtain the Soundex code for a surname.  The Soundex is a coded last name (surname) index based on the way a name sounds rather than the way it is spelled

Also try the Guide to the Soundex System at 

Soundex Filing System: Soundex tutorial

The National Archives and Records Administration
Updated the "Soundex Indexing System" web page - to include the 'H and W' rule back
on February 19, 2000

The National Archives (NARA) has been publishing Soundex guides that omitted a rule found in the original instructions, and the omission has been perpetuated in genealogical 'how to' books based on the NARA guides.  An updated guide to the Soundex Indexing System now appears on the NARA website at http://www.nara.gov/genealogy/coding.html

Naturalization Indexes

To get information, the JewishGen FAQ suggests that you go to the NARA office that's nearest where your ancestor lived - rather than contacting the Washington, DC office. It states that the wait through Washington can be up to a year to receive your requested information, however, it most likely will be a lot less time using an alternate office. The National Office states that the first two hours of research time and the first 100 pages of reproduction are free.

There are exceptions to the rule that an immigrant must be a "legal resident" of the US for at least 6 years before he/she becomes eligible to apply for citizenship. Immigrants who fall in certain categories (i.e. those who are married to US citizens) may apply after only a 3 year residency.

Canadian Immigration Surname Search

Finding Passenger Lists 1820 to the 1940s arrivals at US ports from Europe
by Joe Beine, German Roots Webmaster What Passenger Lists are on-line? Internet Sources for Transcribed Passenger Records & Indexes by Joe Beine

Finding Passenger Records in the Family History Library Catalog
A guide to finding passenger lists and their indexes on microfilm

Information on women and Naturalization

Italian Naturalization Web Site
This database contains the naturalization records that were issued between 1906 and 1949 by the Southern District Court, which includes Manhattan and the Bronx. It contains over 500,000 records


Naturalization Records
Information by Susanne Saether on naturalization records 

Naturalization Records On-Line






New York City:
Anyone could be naturalized after they had been in the country for 6 years. Some people who did not know what ships they had arrived on, waited until the law was changed to say that you did not need to know the actual passenger manifest, but could be naturalized if you could prove that you had been in the US for at least six years. This took place around 1922 or 1924. If they did not naturalize at the Federal Court in New York City, they you can write to the local court for each borough of the City of New York. From a posting by Diane Jacobs

National Archives

201 Varick Street
New York, NY

Passenger Lists that are on-line

At the German Roots: German Genealogy Resources, there is a link entitled "What Passenger Lists are Online" which offers descriptions and links to other sites that include lists of immigration to Australia, New Zealand, Canada, various U.S. States, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Holland, Norway and Portugal On the main page, click on 'Emigration and Immigration' on the right hand side of the page.

Passenger Lists - Hamburg to South Africa

Passenger Manifests
The New York Public Library has passenger manifests up to and including 1910. It is more pleasant to do research at the NYPL then at NARA.

French Line - The French Lines have an on-line database for passenger manifests for the period of 1864-1936. While this only covers 27 different ship's crossings, it is still of interest. The site is in French, but is easily navigatable. (An English-language version of the site is available by clicking on a UK or USA flag)

Look at the "Listes de passager". An example of what one can find is a listing for the SS Normandie, Le Havre - Southampton - New York, May 29, 1935. There is a listing for Percy Trilnick, a Jewish British dress designer in First Class. Unfortunately, there is no further information given on each passenger. Another Jewish passenger in First Class is Abraham Mintz, but he is not identified by profession. Where the person is a notable personality, their occupation is given such as Lucius Boomer, President of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.
From a posting by Ann Rabinowitz

Philadelphia Naturalization Records

For information on obtaining records for Philadelphia

Ships and Passenger Lists

Cyndi's List

Naturalization Records

U.S. Residency Requirements before becoming naturalized. Be aware that the rules for citizenship changed over the years and you may find unusual circumstances. Check the Immigration and Naturalization site, specifically the "Overview of INS History," "This Month in Immigration History," as well as "History, Genealogy and Education" sites. Anyone could be naturalized after they had been in the US for 6 years. Some people who did not know what ships they had arrive on, waited until the law was changed to say that you did not need to know the actual passenger manifest, but could be naturalized if you could prove that you had been in the US for at least six years. This took place around 1922 or 1924.

"Emperor of Germany"
This standard phrase was taken from his travel document or passport where it said in full "Untertan des Kaisers Deutschland" .. i.e. a subject, as used in a feudal sense [a more modern German word is Staatsburger, i.e. citizen of a country] of the Emperor of Germany. The phrase was abbreviated by the immigration official to "Emperor of Germany". There was an exact time span in which this phrase could have been in use [1871-1918].

The Prussians were victorious in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71. Following this, the separate kingdoms of Bavaria, Wurttemberg, Baden and Hesse joined the North German Alliance. The latter had been founded by Bismarck in 1866 and included Prussia and 17 northern German states.  The foundation of the German Empire [Deutsches Reich] was declared in 1870 and King William I of Prussia as proclaimed German Emperor in Versailles in 1871. After the defeat of Germany in WWI, the Emperor abdicated on 28 November, 1918 - Abdication Proclamation of Wilhelm II: I herewith renounce for all time claims to the throne of Prussia and to the German Imperial throne connected therewith.

I have also seen the German phrase on documents such as Russian passports [related to the Russian Czar] and in connection with other princely rulers in much earlier references.  

(Nathan BOCK's) immigration in 1876 falls within the early years of the creation of the German Empire and hence the phrase is correct in the historical context given above.   From a posting by Celia Male

It was not really necessary to be a citizen before Social Security, before passports were required, or before women had the right to vote.  If a woman did receive citizenship through her husband or father, and then later needed to prove her citizenship to obtain a passport, etc., she had to then go to the trouble of proving that she was indeed related to her husband or father and had become a citizen through them.


New York Passenger Lists 1820-1897

"Microfilm of New York passenger lists can be ordered from local LDS Family History Centers for viewing and photocopying for a small fee. You can find the microfilm roll number you will need here

New York passenger lists
around your 1837 time frame generally will have for each passenger: name, age, gender, occupation, country to which they belong and country they intend to inhabit."  From a posting by Joe Beine

Ellis Island Passenger List Search
From 1892 to 1924, more than 22 million immigrants, passengers, and crew members came through Ellis Island and the Port of New York. The ship companies that transported these passengers kept detailed passenger lists, called "ship manifests." These manifests have been transcribed into a vast electronic archive, which you can easily search to find an individual passenger.

Worldwide Directory of Family History Centers
You can find a worldwide directory of Family History Centers here

North Dakota's State Archives and Historical Research Library

Naturalization records, often called "Second Papers" and the Declaration of intention records, often called the "First Papers".  The early records contain very little family or personal history of the applicant; often the name of the applicant, country of origin and date of records were the only data supplied

 Passenger Lists

Were preserved on microfilm and the films are available at the U.S. National Archives (NARA) in Washington, D.C.  For each port, the films are also available at the National Archive Branch Archive and records Center that serves the region containing the port in question.  All the films are also available at the Branch Archive in Pittsfield, Massachusetts and through the Family History Centers.

The microfilm indexes for the large ports, other than New York, are somewhat more complete than the New York indexes, so they are a bit easier to access.

Passenger Lists
The Research Center, Oldenburg University, has at its disposal 1586 rolls of Microfilm with passenger lists, which have been preserved.

Passenger List FAQs

Instructions on how to find your ancestor's passenger list.  Includes lists of reference books

Passenger Lists on the Internet - by Ron Prost


Hamburg to South Africa

Passengers and Immigrants to America

A Guide to Searching for your immigrant Ancestors in the Clayton Library, Texas

Passport Information

Most emigrating Jews had no identity papers 100 years or more ago.  They snuck out of Russia (or other countries) and got to a port.  That was it!  If they had money for a ticket, no one cared if they were named Itzkowitz or Jones.  The US took in any immigrants who were healthy and had just a few dollars.  If they had an internal Russian passport, it was not good for much outside Russia.

LDS Family History Library Search for Passport Information

This and That Genealogy tips on Immigration and Passports

Passport Office
Bureau of Consular Affairs
RAIM/RS  Room 1239
Department of State
22nd & C Streets, NW
Washington, DC 20520

Requesting Passport Application from the National Archives

"In January 2005 I sent a letter to the US State Department requesting my great grandfather's passport applications.  I knew he had traveled to Europe in the late 1920s but could not locate him in the passport index (which in those days was only available at NARA in Washington DC on microfilm.)   So my original request contained nothing more than his name. approximate birth
date, address in the 1920s.

In January 2007 I resent the request this time having located his passport numbers off of the passenger lists that had been published on Ancestry. This time I was able to supply the State Department Passport Office the dates and numbers on his passports and even sent them copies of the appropriate passenger list pages and a copy of my ggg f's death certificate.

In April 2007 after repeatedly calling the State Department and the Passport Office the documents were released to me - based on the January 2007 request. Two pages each for passports issued in 1926 and 1928.  I thought that was the end of the story.

Imagine my surprise last week when I received an envelope from the US State Department. I opened it to find a letter saying in response to your January 2005 request we are mailing you the applications for your great grandfather's passports.  Enclosed were copies of the same documents I received in 2007.

So I would say a) never give up and b) encourage you when all else fails try the passport applications.  Up to about 1925 the applications are on Ancestry and after that still require a written request to the US State Department.  I am not sure exactly what the rules are on releasing passports but in my case I documents that the person had died with a photocopy  of his death certificate and his obit that showed my father's name as one of the relatives.  The State Department never asked me for more documentation.

The applications include the country where he was born, parents' names, date of immigration to the USA, where he lived in the USA, date and place of naturalization, where he was going in Europe, the name of the ship and the date  he was leaving.  There also is a photo of him on each, his signature, a brief description (height, weight, hair color, nose, chin, complexion, etc.) and even a witness signature. Mind you it was not the total solution to finding information but I found the information on the form interesting." From a posting by Allan Jordan

Letter of Reply
The following letter, less the actual names mentioned, was sent to Marv Brooks
Lakebenj@aol.com and posted on LITVAKSIG

"Dear Mr. Brooks:

The passport applications in our custody were submitted by US citizens.  It is most likely that ____ did not have a passport when she traveled to Russia.  Passports were not required.  Since 1789, the Department of State has issued passports to US citizens traveling abroad.

With two exceptions, however, there was no statutory requirement that American citizens have a passport for travel abroad until 1941.  Passports were required for a short time during the Civil War (August 19, 1861 - March 17, 1862).  Later, Executive Order 2285 of December 15, 1915, stated that all persons leaving the United States should have passports and an act of Congress of May 2, 1918 (40 Stat. 559), made it unlawful for U.S. citizens to travel abroad without a valid passport.  This law lapsed with the formal termination of WW I in 1921.  On June 21, 1941, the act of May 22, 1918, was revived (55 Stat. 252) and U.S. citizens have since been required to have passports for foreign travel.

Passport records in the custody of the National Archives include applications dated October 27, 1795, through March 31, 1925 (there are no applications for the years 1813-1829 and 1832); emergency applications submitted abroad, 1877-1925; and applications for special (diplomatic) passports, 1829-1925.

Passport records dated after March 31, 1925, remain in the custody of the Department of State.  Passport applications may provide information regarding an applicant's family status, date and place of birth, naturalization, occupation or business, and physical characteristics.  Each passport application series is arranged chronologically, with a number assigned to most applications to facilitate identification.

Finding aids for these records are incomplete.  For the years 1810-1817 and 1834-1923 there are registers and indexes.  There are also alphabetical card indexes for applications dated 1850-1852, 1860-1880, 1881 and 1906-23.

National Archives Microfilm Publications M1371, Registers and Indexes for Passport Applications, 1810-1905; M1848, Index to Passport Applications, 1850-52, 1860-8, 1881, 1906-23; M1372, Passport Applications, 1795-1905 and M1490, Passport Applications, 1906-March 31, 1925, reproduce some of these records."


National Archives


Primer on Emigration, Immigration and Associated Subjects

Basic information (definitions, historical reasons for) about emigration and immigration and some advice and information on finding passenger lists

Records of the U.S. Customs Service, 1820--ca. 1891- Record Group 36

Atlantic, Gulf, and Great Lakes Ports, Baltimore, Maryland, Boston, Massachusetts, New Orleans, Louisiana, New York, New York,, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

NARA RG 23, "Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1891-1957. 
Despite the fact that arrival records for New York are archived at the National Archives under two different RGs, the arrival records are still considered the arrival records for the Port of New York in practical terms of research.  The only difference at the LDS Family History Library is that if you use the catalog on microfiche and want to find the microfilms to use by the catalog on microfiche via the author/Title section, you would look under US Customs Service and US Immigration and Naturalization Service.  This separate search is not needed on the on-line catalog of CD version since, as mentioned above, the records are found simply under the locality New York.  As for Castle Garden and Ellis Island, they are still under Port of New York immigration records that you search through.

Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service 1891-1957 - Record Group 85
(Index to Passenger Arrivals)
: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina, Baltimore, Md., Boston, MA; Detroit, MI,; Galveston, Texas; Gloucester, MA; Gulfport and Pascagoula, Mississippi; Key West, Florida; New Bedford, MA; New Orleans, Louisiana; New York, New York; Philadelphia, PA; Portland, Maine; Providence, Rhode Island; St. Albans, Vermont; San Francisco, California; Savannah, Georgia; Seattle, Washington and other Washington ports

Research Guide to Immigration and Ships Passenger Lists


Schifscarte - (ship card

It is in columnar form with a number on the top right corner. At the heading appears the name of the shipping company; port; name of vessel; and emigration date. In respective columns appear (in translation from German) Surname, Personal Name, Age, Marital Status, Former Residence, Town or Province, Occupation. Below seems to be a declaration of the amount of American dollars carried by the passenger. Also, the day and date of arrival appear written in English and Yiddish. On the back is what appears to be regulations (numbered 1-15) concluding with Bremen and a date stamped on it.  From a posting by Avrohom Krauss (with some modification by the webmaster)

Schifscarte - (ship card) ...... These have been photocopied (1854 - 1890) and are available through the LDS as four films 1419469 - 1419472. ... For 1854- 1890 they should contain the same names as the Board of Trade registers.

Searching Passenger Lists: The Global Gazette Tips on Using the LDS Family History Library Catalog



A clinical term which has attached to it certain symptoms which define the state.  The earmarks of senility would include "confusion", "disorientation" an inability to respond to ordinary questions, etc. In a posting by Martin Kronman, he suggests that the stress of |being "processed" by the examiners at Ellis Island which might well generate these symptoms in a person who is otherwise relatively normal

Soundex Indexing System

To use the census Soundex to locate information about a person, you must know his or her full name and the state or territory in which he or she lived at the time of the census.  It is also helpful to know the full name of the heard of the household in which the person lived because census takers recorded information under that name.  For a complete discussion and the Soundex Coding Guide

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has created a new and improved Genealogy website including a page called the  “Genealogy Notebook” -- a gateway to the history of the service, research guidance, records requests and much more


U.S. Passenger Arrival Lists  

At the very top of the ship passenger manifest sheet will be a statement as to the class of passenger which is manifested on that sheet.  For example, Third Class Passengers will be manifested on a sheet that states "This Sheet Is For Steerage Passengers."

Steamship companies sold three types of tickets ... First Class (First Cabin), Second Class (Second Cabin), and Third Class (Third Cabin or Steerage).  Steerage meant accommodations were deep inside the ship, not where cattle were located.  

The document you get when your order a Passenger Manifest from Washington, DC is a copy from the actual ship's passenger list of the page with your ancestor's name on it.  It will come as two pages (large pages) with about 29 columns of information, including full name, age, sex, occupation, able to read-write, nationality, race, last permanent residence, names and address of nearest relative in country from where they came, final destination, who paid for ticket, ever before in the US, going to relative or friend name and address ... then physical identifications such as color hair, eyes, height, birth marks, and place of birth.  Most of our Jewish families purchased Third Class tickets  The Steamship Companies, it is interesting to learn, made most of their money from Steerage passengers

If you are checking the Soundex for NY at the LDS, you will be looking at a microfilm containing an index of information - not the complete ship's list information.  You would then need to order another microfilm for that list.

Same for the Hamburg Lists.  They are a list of names and will give you the ship and date for arrival, but they are not the copy of the ships list.  You can order that separately from information given in the index.

FHL microfilm numbers New York: 1897-1909, 1910-1919, 1920-1929 and 1930 to 1942  



Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, NY - 1897-1842, June 16, 1897 to December 21, 1942
National Archives Microfilm Publication T715 - 8.892 microfilms Click on the underlined hyperlink. This guide helps clear up the confusion about leaving the Old Country and arriving in the New World

Primer on Emigration, Immigration 
In each arriving ship had at least a few passengers who were detained for one reason or another (no money; inspector couldn't confirm the passenger's sponsor, etc.).  Some passengers were held for 'Special Inquiry' (SI) for the more serious cases.  Detaining could be simply because the passenger was processed late in the day and there were no more trains leaving for the passenger's destination.  There is a separate list for SIs. Many inexperienced people researching their family emigration, don't look for these SI reports (they are at the end of the ship manifest) These reports often contain additional useful information. An article explaining in detail the "Navigating Immigration and Naturalization Service Subject, Policy and Correspondence Files: Board of Special Inquiry Appeal Files", authored by Zack A. Wilske appeared in the Spring 2012 issue of Avotaynu.

CR - Certificate of Registry
This was issued instead of a Certificate of arrival during the naturalization process, when they didn't find the person on the manifest, but knew they'd been here long enough to apply. A copy of the CR is available by writing to:

Immigration and Naturalization Service
FOIA/PA Office
425 Eye Street NW
Washington, DC 20536

You need to include the immigrant's name, approximate date of birth, country of origin, date of death if known and the CR number.

LPC - Likely Public Charge. 
The Immigration Inspector, if he felt that the arriving passenger had either a mental or physical condition which would likely prevent the immigrant from finding employment in the U.S. would list the detained passenger as such.

Emigration Routes
Some immigrants around 1917 emigrated via the "eastern" route. They went across Siberia through China to Japan and from Yokahama to Seattle.

Finding your Immigrant Ancestor
Info on Passenger & Immigration Lists


"A Guide to Interpreting Passenger List Annotations
Located at

This InfoFile was created  by Marian Smith, Historian for the INS.  It is a comprehensive InfoFile (more like a full website) that explains the many annotations that can be found on a passenger manifest, as well as provides graphical examples of the annotations

How did they get to the Midwest from New York?

From the Hudson River, they sailed up the Erie (not the Welland Canal), then via the Detroit Creek and Lake St. Claire into Lake Huron and from there to Lake Michigan and Chicago.  Others continued through the Soo Canal to Duluth, and then headed south through Minneapolis/St. Paul.

The above information related to German Jews in the mid-century.  The routes changed later in the century as the network of railroads was constructed, offering faster and more comfortable access to the American heartland.

Some Ukrainian Jews disembarked in Nova Scotia and made their way across Canada to Winnipeg.  Some Jewish settlers in Minnesota had come from WinnipegFrom a posting by Michael Bernet


Ports of Immigration


There is a wonderful (and little-known) list showing arrivals to Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and South Carolina, for 1890-1924.  Allen County Public Library has it (Fort Wayne, Indiana USA)
Phine: 219-421-1200;

On these microfilms, I found 5 different crossings for my ALHADEF family.  All of this material is on a collection of under 10 microfilms. Daniel Kazez

New South Wales

Manifests for "assisted immigrants" indexed for the period 1839-1896.  Free. Various port records available.
http://www.records.nsw.gov.au/publications/ immigration/introduction.htm

Manifests for "unassisted" immigrants indexed for the period 1852-1899. Free 

Belgium   (See also Red Star Line, under Ships, below)



Over 2 million immigrants came to the U.S. from Europe from 1878 to 1934 on ships operated by the Antwerp-based Red Star Line - one quarter of whom were Jewish.
The pre-WWI lists were destroyed in WW II



Red Star Line Museum
There is a great deal of information available in researching the vast majority who traveled this line to escape poverty and, often, religious persecution, from pogroms in Russia and Poland.  The line itself, although based in Antwerp, was owned by American stock holders.  The museum is located in the various building that were used at the time.  The main exhibition explores "human stories", not objects according to Luc Verheyen, the museum's coordinator.  A story of this museum was included in the January 12th, 2014 issue of the Los Angeles Times.  During the time it was in business, it operated 23 ships.  The first ship was the Vaderland that accommodated 70 First Class passengers and 800 Third Class passengers.
Red Star Line Museum
Montevideostraat, Antwerp
Phone: 01-3-298-2770


(See also my Canadian page by Clicking Here

Searches of the National Archives of Canada from 1925 to 1935 starting with the letter C, can be searched by going to

or you can send an inquiry to their Genealogy Unit and they will search the indexes on your behalf.

Canadian Archives
has both passenger arrival lists and immigration cards for each immigrant.  NARA has some indexes of crossings from Canada to Detroit.  Manifests indexed for all ports for the years 1925-1935.  Free.

Canadian Border Passenger List Microfilms
U.S. National Archives (NARA) microfilms of U. S. Passenger Arrival Manifests are available through the LDS Family History Centers

Canadian Immigration Surname Search

Denmark - Copenhagen

Manifests indexed for the period of 1869-1908.  Archives has records through 1940, but it is unclear whether all will be indexed on-line.  Free.  



"X" at far left, before or in name column = Subject was temporarily detained, see list of detained aliens at end of manifest.

"USB" = US-Born, sometimes found on records of returning citizens

"USC" = United States Citizen, sometimes found on records of returning citizens

C-###### = Naturalization certificate number, sometimes found on records of returning

Annotations made after arrival


"435/621" (or numbers in similar form) with no date given = NY file number (file does not survive). Indicates early verification/record check.


"432731/435765" (or similar format) = Subject was a permanent resident, returning from a visit abroad with a Reentry Permit.

Number in Occupation column
(ex: 11-54678 or 2-x-237694) = Verification for naturalization purposes, usually after 1926. First number is naturalization district number, second is either application number or the Certificate of Arrival number. An "x" dividing the number indicates no fee was required for the Certificate of Arrival. Indicates activity in response to filing of a Declaration of Intention or Petition for Naturalization.

"C/A or c/a" = Certificate of Arrival."
Indicates activity in response to filing of a Declaration of Intention or Petition for Naturalization.

"404" or "505" =
Verification form used to transmit manifest information to requesting INS office, thus indicating a verification/record check.


Name (only) crossed out with line, or completely x'd out, with another name written in = name officially amended - additional records may survive


"W/A or w/a" =
Warrant of arrest, additional records may survive

Shown below is the brochure cover from the European Emigration From Bremen/Bremerhaven to Ellis Island September 11 - November 11, 1992.  Ellis Island was the major federal immigration facility in America and was located just a few hundred yards north of the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor.

Between 1892 and 1954, seventeen million immigrants were processed at Ellis.  Today, more than forty percent, or over 100 million, of all living Americans can trace their roots to an ancestor who came through Ellis Island. The Ellis Island Immigration Museum helps tell the inspiring story of the largest human migration in modern history. In the various rooms of the museum building, new arrivals came - many fearful of rejection - were processed, inspected and ultimately granted permission to enter the country legally.

On November 12,1954, Ellis Island, the gateway to America, shut its doors after processing more than 12 million immigrants since opening in 1892.  First and second class passengers had easily passed through customs, but those in third class underwent medical inspections to ensure they didn't have a contagious disease.

Ellis Island Database 
JewishGen® and The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc. have a working relationship to provide enhanced search capabilities for the Ellis Island Database.  It covers the period from 1892 through 1924, so arrivals prior to 1892 will not be found, and the amount of information included varies with the year of arrival as more data was collected in later years.

Dr. Stephen Morse, with the assistance from Michael Tobias and Erik S. Steinmetz, serve as a valuable aid to the thousands of individuals researching their families who came through the Port of new York and Ellis Island between 1892-1924. Over 40% of Americans have ancestral records in the Ellis Island Database located at the American Family Immigration History Center™ at Ellis Island and on-line at 



The data base is available at



This same web site also contains links to Ellis Island Database; Ellis Island Database (Jewish Passengers); Ellis Island Database (Short Form) and Missing Manifests. This site features the ability to search for any passenger by town of origin and/or by similar sounding names. This information obtained from a News Release dated October 20, 2002. The full text of the news release can be found at the archives of JewishGen of this date.

"The Ellis Island Data Base is riddled with spelling errors. The German spelling for
Warsaw, Poland, is Warschau. The letter "u" and "n" look alike in script, so the person extracting the information, knowing nothing about the geography of Eastern Europe, misinterpreted the name and produced the name "Warschan" From a posting by Gary Mokotoff

The One-Step website started out as an aid for finding passengers in the Ellis Island database. Shortly afterwards it was expanded to help with searching in the 1930 census. Over the years it has continued to evolve and today includes nearly 40 web-based tools divided into eight separate categories ranging from genealogical searches to astronomical calculations to Israeli phonebook lookups

Improvements have been made and the database now includes phonetic (Soundex) alternatives.  Should you not find a record on the first try, click the Edit Name and Gender option.  The question mark (?) in the database is treated like a wildcard character.

"An approach to using the EIDB script:

- only specify Last Name as criterion, using 'sounds
  like' option

- high number of hits per page, to try and get all
  results at once

- save the resulting file (.htm) for future reference

from there on, open the file in Excel or another spreadsheet, so that you can sort by place of residence or arrival date in combination with the last name.  Age is a bit more tricky, as the year/month indication skews the sort method (e.g. '2 y 6 m' will come between '19y' and '20 y'.  And so children below 10 will be scattered all over - only way out would be for the script to add a 0 in front for all such cases."  Posted by Yves Goulnik

"When the Ellis Island Foundation prepared what is now known as the Ellis Island Database (EIDB), they used the microfilms held by the National Archives.  But, depending on the years of immigration, you might be able to find additional information if you too go to the original microfilms yourself. This is especially true right now while we wait to learn if we were able to view all the original manifest pages again via Stephen Morse's or (now) Avotaynu's search site on the web."

"After about 1900 or so, manifests contained two additional sections at their ends: "Detained Aliens", and "Aliens Held for Special Inquiry". In the "Detained Aliens" section, many people were listed again if the person they were to join in the U.S. had not yet appeared at Ellis Island to pick them up. (The was especially true for immigrant women and children.)  Most often, this would be the same person that had been listed on the manifest as the person they were joining, but not always.  In some cases, I've found that the person who picked them up was different, thus giving a lead to an additional family member or friend.  Also, the most current address would be given by the person picking them up and this was often different than what had appeared on the manifest.  This might be of use if you're interested in going further and finding/confirming them all in a census or city directory."

"The "Aliens Held for Special Inquiry" section details legal proceedings on anyone whose admission the U.S. was in question.  This could go either way: "admitted" or "deported".  Again, this could be of importance in any ancestor search."  From a posting by Dr. Howard Relles.

FAQs - Frequent Asked Questions - Steven Morse offers a number of links to Ellis Island and Ship Arrivals; Census and Soundex; Births and Deaths; Calendar, Sunrise/Sunset, Maps; i at this web site 

Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, NY 1820 - 1897
January 7, 1820 to June 17, 1897

National Archives Microfilm Publication M237

Famous People Arriving at Ellis Island

How Immigrants Were Inspected at Ellis Island Circa 1903

Passenger List Information



Photographs from Ellis Island


Voyages: Stories of America and the Sea

What happened to the immigrants who were allowed entry into the United States? 


Manifests indexed for the years 1892-1896, 1899-1914, 1920-1939, 1949-1960 Free.





Austro-Hungarian Empire (Galicia)
Jews most likely departed via these routes:

1. a. Hamburg 'direct to' US ports
    b. Hamburg 'indirect' - Hamburg to Grimsby/Hull, England - rail to
       Liverpool - ocean liner from Liverpool to US port. This 'indirect'
       route was both cheaper and faster, and quite popular.
2. Bremen
3. Antwerp




"For all of those readers who may be confused about when ancestors used Galicia or Austria on immigration, US birth, death, marriage and census documents versus when they used Poland when they were from the same town:

Before 1772, all of Galicia was Poland.  As a broad sweeping generalization, the territory that Austria incorporated as Galicia and Lodmeria in 1772 remained intact until the peace agreement following WWI in late 1918, except for Bukowina, which twice became an independent Austrian territory. However, Bukowina was still part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until 1918. For 15 years after the third partition of Poland in 1795, Austria and then Napoleon tussled over additional Polish territory that subsequently became part of Russia after Napoleon was gone from the scene.  Cracow/Krakow was a special case.  It was an independent city-state off and on; was semi-officially part of Russia for a time; and then became part of Austria's Galician holdings.  But, in the big picture, except for Bukowina, the borders of Galicia remained intact from 1772-1918.

Thus, when you see a ship record for a person who came from Galicia or Bukowina from any date up to late 1918, expect to see the country as Austria.

But, if your relative came to the US after WWI from the same town, say Zurawno, expect to see Poland.  This was because between WWI and WWII, virtually all of what had been Galicia came under Polish rule. Things changed after WWII when Poland lost its territory east of the Bug River to Ukraine.

If you are looking at a 1910 US census, expect to see the birthplace of your relative as Austria or Galicia (you may occasionally see Poland because by then some
Galician Jews were Polish nationalists and thought of themselves as being from Poland).  But, in the 1920 census, the same individual will likely be listed as being born in Poland because by then, the town was, indeed, in Poland.  I've seen some 1920 entries styled as Pol-Gal or Pol-Aus as well, but by the 1930 census, the birthplace is invariably given as Poland.

This is also true of US naturalization documents and post 1918 passport applications.  If the person was naturalized after 1918, the birthplace will probably be reported as Poland, not Galicia or Austria and the country of former allegiance will be Poland.
" From a posting by Suzan Wynne

"The boundaries changed in the late 1700's with the three Partitions of Poland, and remained fluid until the Congress of Vienna in 1814 at the close of the Napoleonic Wars.

Then they were essentially stable for a century, until after WWI.

Then there were changes following WWII.

After the eastern block disintegrated circa 1989, it was not so much that boundaries changed as that some internal boundaries became international boundaries.

I don't think that constitutes "back and forth a lot."  But it does suggest that people researching the region ought to have some understanding of the geo-political history of the area.  But that is not much different from someone studying US history needing to understand that France once held Quebec and New Orleans, Spain once held Florida, and Mexico once held Texas and California." From a posting by Peter Zavon



German  Embarkation

German and European Passenger Departure Record Links


The busiest emigration port in Europe and handled about 30% of the emigrant traffic. Unfortunately, the passenger lists from this port were destroyed in WW II bombings.  However, the Bremen Chamber of Commerce, has the following lists available:

Bremen Passenger Lists 1920 - 1939
Bremen emigration lists began to be recorded in 1832. Unfortunately, from 1875-1908, staff of the Nachweisungsbureau (Information Office for Emigrants) destroyed all lists older than 3 years for lack of space. They began saving the records after 1908, but most were lost in World War II except for 2,953 emigration lists for the years 1920-1939. These saved lists had been stowed away in a salt mine at Bernburg an der Saale in 1942 and were transferred into the custody of Moscow Archives at the end of WWII. In the late 1980s, those lists were given back to the Bremen Chamber of Commerce. The digitization was done by an agreement between the Bremen Chamber of Commerce and the Bremen Society for Genealogical Investigation. Most Bremen lists were destroyed when the U.S. 8th Army Air Corps, 487th Bombardment Group (Heavy)  bombed Bremen on September 26th, 1944 and again on February 24, 1945 during WW II.


The Combined Efforts of Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild and Die Maus Genealogical Society of Bremen, Germany
Brings you transcribed Ships Manifest departing from Bremen and BremerhavenYou can search by year of departure 1820s to 1950s or by name of Ship


Bremen Project Transcribe Passenger Lists of Ships
Departing Bremen and arriving in the U.S.A. can be searched at  

Indexed for the period 1920-1926 (partial)


(The hyperlinks below are all in German) Vereinsdatenbanken Folgende Vereine betreiben auf diesem Server ihre Mitgliederdatenbanken:

Arbeitsgemeinschaft ostdeutscher Familienforscher e.V.


Arbeitsgemeinschaft Mitteldeutsche Familienforschunge.V.

Verein für Computergenealogie e.V.

Dresdner Verein für Genealogie e. V.

Genealogische Gesellschaft, Sitz Hamburg e.V.

Genealogisch-heraldische Gesellschaft Göttingen e.V.

Gesellschaft für Familienforschung e.V. Bremen

Familienkundliche Arbeitsgemeinschaften der Männervom

Morgenstern e.V.
Niedersächsischer Landesverein für Familienkunde e.V.

Pommerscher Greif e.V.

Roland zu Dortmund e.V.

Verein für Familienforschung in Ost- und Westpreussene.V.

Westfälische Gesellschaft für Genealogie undFamilienforschung e.V.

German Migration Resource Center
Research tools at this site include a selected list of books about German Genealogy and German migration and links to other sites

German Roots
An especially helpful web site for the beginning or intermediate genealogist is this site which offers links to the 'best of' on-line resources for census records, emigration, databases, history and maps


is about 75 miles inland and on the River Elbe; Cuxhaven is where the Elbe joins the North Sea.  It was the second busiest emigration port in Europe, the busiest was Bremen, Germany which handled about 30% of the emigrant traffic.  Passengers
departing from Hamburg and Bremen, as well as other major European ports, came from all over Europe.  The passengers lists from Bremen, were unfortunately, destroyed, most of the Hamburg lists have survived and are available on loan to local LDS Family History Centers.

Hamburg passenger lists
Include the ports of Buenos Aires and La Plata.  Most FHL volunteers do not know that Argentina is included in those list.

The site is available in German and in English and you can do an initial search for free.  If you find the person you are seeking, then you can choose to obtain more details for a nominal cost.  Having the exact date from the Hamburg database will also allow you to pinpoint the manifest on EIDB or on microfilm.

Hamburg Emigration


Between 1850 and 1934 the Port of Hamburg was the "Gateway to the World" for some 5 million emigrants seeking a new life across the Atlantic to escape famine as well as political and religious persecution. The BallinStadt Museum is dedicated to these people.


Hamburg City Archives
The index to emigrants who departed from this port city during the period of 1890 to 1899 (over 640,000 people) has been expanded.  This index offers: approximate age and date of departure.  The Archives can provide (for a nominal fee) an abstract of the entry information from the ship's manifest.  The fee charges are: 1 to 3 persons $20; for 4 to 10 people $30 and for 21 to 30 is $50.  Since the form is an abstract rather than the actual manifest, a family of three on a specific page would each have their own abstract and, therefore, would count as three persons if you requested information all three. 

This database has a built-in search engine which includes 'wildcard' ability (use of a special character to replace an unknown letter if you do not know the exact spelling)

Hamburg Emigration Lists
The Hamburg Emigration web site now offers passenger information on ALL ships that departed Hamburg from 1890 to 1898.  The Hamburg Emigration Lists are a databank which includes the personal data of 5 million people who emigrated via Hamburg from 1850 to 1934.  The lists are available starting with the years 1890 to 1914 and will then grow year by year.

It has also become a fee-based site.  You can search by passenger names.  As this is an important site for Jewish researchers, it is a good idea to keep up-to-date on what's happening at the site - especially in view of the  charge



In French

'How to Research'



You can do an initial search for free, and if you find the person you are seeking, you can then choose to obtain more detail for a price ($20 fee for a text file listing the details of up to 3 individuals).  Having the exact date from the Hamburg database will also allow you to pinpoint the manifest on EIDB or on microfilm.  This site offers the pages in German, English, Spanish, Polish, Cyrillic and Swedish.

Hamburg Indirect Lists
started on July 1, 1880

Hamburg Passenger Lists - 1850 - 1934

Hamburg Police Records
All aliens were registered and the index cards are on microfilm in the Mormon FHL collections

Hamburg 1890-1894

Jewish Returnees
1905 to 1907; Returnees listed for 1906 - 1913;

Emigrants from Kovno 1897 - 1899;

Emigrants not on emigrant ships 1871 - 1887

Emigrants sent by rail to other ports because of WW I, 1913 - 1914



Link to your roots



The "Link-to-Your-Roots project
An index of all emigrants who passed through the port of Hamburg from 1850 to 1934.

Manifests indexed for the period 1890-1898
Plans are to complete indexing, first through 1914 and then from 1850-1934.  Fee based

Some sailings from Hamburg, Germany stopped in Dover or Folkstone.  At both ports, passengers embarked and disembarked.

State Archive - Link To Your Roots
There is a fee charged to use this database. Because of the size of the URL address, you may need to do a cut and paste of the following


Tips: Family Name - first letter must always be upper case.  remainder in lower case.  If the first letter is entered in lower case, nothing is returned.

Searching for a name verbatim is usually futile - name spellings changed often.  Use wildcards Tark% returns Tark, Tarka, Tarkowski, Tarkon, etc.

Use a sounds like strategy.  Put wildcards in for the vowels.  usually the constantans remain correct, with exceptions, of course.

'Ungam' in the State of residence for the period prior to 1918, is the Kingdom of Hungary.  This would include present day Slovakia and parts of Poland. Bohemia is listed separately.

1890 to 1894 (partial) are the only years on-line thus far.



Rotterdam Departure Lists
A copy of the catalog record describing Passenger Lists of the Holland-America Line which sailed from Rotterdam can be obtained from Family History Centers.




The Russian Volunteer Fleet and the Russian East Asiatic Steamship Lines both started sailing from Libau to New York in 1906.  By 1910, there was also a Russian-American Line running from Libau to New York. Libau was the only all-weather port that did not ice over in winter.  Some Jews went through Riga.

Many Jews from Lithuania and Latvia embarked at the Port of Libau.  For a discussion, see SHEMOT (Journal of JGS Great Britain - Summer 1993, Vol. 1 Number 3, page 29): Poor Jews Temporary Shelter by Professor Aubrey Newman  newm@leicester.ac.uk


Memel (Klapedia)
A port city that some Lithuanian and Latvian Jews shipped out of for England and US ports. Most of the Jews went via Germany or through Libau in Latvia, sailing on cargo ships first to London. History records the care that was offered to the young emigrants by the British community n the London Jewish Shelter in Leman Street in Whitechapel.  From there, the emigrants boarded larger ships which brought them to South Africa.  The emigrants who went to America sailed mostly from German ports to New York direct.



A wonderful site for anyone interested in emigration from Finland and other Scandinavian countries - but it contains plenty of links for any researcher


Slovenian Emigration

Early 1900s



South American Ports

Passenger Arrival Records (1882 to 1926)
Available from the Centro de Estudios Migratorios Latinoamericanos (CEMLA).  They house arrival records similar to Ellis Island.  However, they do not issue actual manifests.  Instead, they can give you a list of all the similar names (you have to request this specifically) or a Certificate of Arrival.  They do not use a Daitch-Mokotoff system for the names so you should suggest alternative spellings.  The web site is in Spanish.  They charge $15 a search and $15 for a certificate (whether or not they find anything). 
cemla@ciudad.com.ar   From a posting by Rob Weisskirch rob_weisskirch@csumb.edu



Mixed group of immigrants, Quebec, ca 1911. Photo by William James Topley, Library and Archives of
Canada, PA-010270. Some rights reserved


Trieste, the main Austrian trading port, assumed the function of the port of emigration in 1904. This was a milestone in the development of the Austrian emigration statistics, which due to the inefficiency of direct statistical observations at the administration and political level was based on the information of authorities in foreign ports. The establishment of a national port finally offered an opportunity for direct control and registration of emigrant traffic in accordance with their own statistical criteria. Therefore in 1904 the Austrian Central Statistical Commission drew up an ambitious plan, aiming to establish a statistical system according to hat were then the highest standards. The system envisaged registering both individuals and families according to criteria which would enable a direct comparison with the existing materials and results of censuses. Among the items providing an insight into the morphology of the emigration flows the forms included in addition to the name, surname, gender, age, marital status and profession also family relations with travelling groups (head of the family, family member, individual)level of literacy, religion, type of emigration (temporary or permanent), province and political district of birth, province, political district and municipality of the last place of residence, country of destination and language of communication. The purpose of these items was not only to establish the geographical origin and nationality of emigrants, but served also as indicators of previous internal migration. However, for legal and technical reasons this plan remained on paper only. The number of people who emigrated via the Port of Trieste was for a long time recorded only in the form of summary reports according to gender as well as province or country of origin.

Only in 1912 did the Trieste port authorities begin compiling detailed passenger records that included name and surname, age, marital status, profession, last place of residence, citizenship, port of destination as well as the ship and the date of departure for each steerage passenger. One copy of these records for the period 1912-1914 can be found in the Austrian State Archive in Vienna in the records of the Ministry of the Interior and Ministry of Trade, one copy for 1914 is also kept by the State Archive in Trieste in the records of the Maritime Government. The records include data on a total of nearly 87.000 emigrants who emigrated during those years via Trieste to the USA, South America and Canada with the Austrian national company Austro-Americana, the English Cunard Line and the Canadian Pacific Railway Company. Nearly half of all the emigrants came from the Austria-Hungarian Empire, while the rest of them were predominantly from Russia, Turkey, Greece, Italy and Romania







U.S. Immigration Information and Links

United States Citizenship
Making Immigration & Naturalization Forms Easy
'Tons' of useful information and links about Immigration, not only to the US, but other countries as well.
Do check out the link to Jewish Immigration.


United Kingdom

English Emigration



Lloyd's List
Note that Lloyd's List is separate from (and actually published by a different organization) Lloyd's Register which has information about ships.  Both offer barebones information about their subjects. The  Guildhall Library in London has Lloyd's List from 1827 on and a separate index to it from 1838 to 1937; this film is a copy of the handwritten index.  Memorial University in St. John's, Newfoundland also has holdings. 

Glasgow, Scotland

Many East European immigrants departed from Glasgow, Scotland.  The records of departures by ship for the U.S, Canada, etc. are held in the Public Records Office (PRO), Kew, London.


On The Way to America, South America, South Africa, etc.
Once a ticket was purchased, it would cover the first leg to the UK, often Grimsby, Hull or London, including assistance and lodging in the Jews Temporary Shelter* on Leman Street in the East End, or in other shelters in Hull and other places.  The next leg of the journey (South Africa for instance) was on a Union or Castle Line.  If the journey were to taken them to America, it was often on Cunard or other lines.




*The records for the Jewish Shelter are held at the London Metropolitan Archives.  There are two films, however, to view these you must have written permission.

The UK did not create logs of immigrants from "the Continent".  They only began lists of passengers departing the UK for destinations other than Europe in 1895.

United States

    Actual Passenger Ticket


Ask Us Now!
A 24/7 live on-line interactive service that uses the expertise of librarians to provide answer to questions, research guidance and help navigating the internet.

Passenger List Microfilms
U.S. National Archives (NARA) microfilms of U. S. Passenger Arrival Manifests are available through the LDS Family History Centers

The NARA (National Archives)
has an index of Baltimore arrivals.


Baltimore, MD Passenger Soundex, 1897-1952

"I had given up on receiving anything better than a shoddy copy of a ship manifest stamped "best available copy" until I referenced it in relation to other information and was sent a much better copy from the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore."  If you know, or suspect, your relatives came though the Port of Baltimore, you'll find the library's reference department helpful whether you're needing photocopies of city directory pages, better copies of ship manifests, or whatever."  From a posting by Stacy Harris


Boston - Passenger List Microfilms
U.S. National Archives (NARA) microfilms of U. S. Passenger Arrival Manifests are available through the LDS Family History Centers

Galveston, Texas

The historic Galveston Movement took place between 1907 and 1913.  The Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum created a traveling exhibition exploring the history of Galveston Island as a significant port of immigration into Texas and America from 1845 to 1914.  The exhibit opened in 2008 and traveled to other museums in 2009-2010.

The Galveston Movement - an internationally organized movement of over 10,000 Jews who were recruited in eastern Europe to come to America through the port city of Galveston.  They settled in one of a dozen cities in the American West.  Agents and representatives from the Movement helped them with jobs, places to stay, and connections for school, language study and other necessities to help getting adjusted to the new land.  Further information can be obtained from Anya Rous, Project Intern, The Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin, Texas


"Galveston: Ellis Island of the West"
Authored by Bernard Marinbach

The Texas Seaport Museum has its Galveston Immigration Database on-line for arrivals indexed from
1844-1948 possibly to 1954.  Free, but registration required.

Galveston Records 1901 - 1920


This is the nation's only computerized listing of immigrants to Galveston, Texas.  The museum's immigration exhibit features text and historic photographs illustrating Galveston's roll in immigration history and the major organized immigration movements of the 19th and 20th centuries.

The database includes names of passengers and members of their traveling parties, age, gender, occupation, country of origin, ship name, dates of departure and arrival and destination in the United States.  Searches are based on surnames - the family's last name.

There is a brief description of the Galveston plan in a section called "The Other Ellis Island" in "The Encyclopedia of Jewish Genealogy," edited by Arthur Kurzweil and Miriam Weiner.  She refers to "Galveston: Ellis Island of the West," by Bernard Marinbach and published in 1983.  It is out of print but should be available by interlibrary loan.  The actual passenger manifests are at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., and copies can be ordered from the National Archives on Form NATF 81;
The Rosenberg Library
2310 Sealy Ave.
Galveston, Texas 77550 and the
Houston Public Library
500 McKinney
Houston, TX. 77002

New Orleans

New Orleans - Passenger List Microfilms
U.S. National Archives (NARA) microfilms of U. S. Passenger Arrival Manifests are available through the LDS Family History Centers

The New Orleans Public Library
Passenger & Crew Lists - microfilms relating to passenger lists for ships arriving in New Orleans, and Atlantic and other gulf ports. 

Passenger and Immigration Lists: New Orleans, 1820 - 1850

New York City Port

Castle Garden
The State of New York opened the New York Immigration Station at Castle Garden on April 1, 1855 New York then collected the 'Head Tax' to support this facility.  In 1882, Congress passed the Immigration and Passenger Acts which made the federal Government solely responsible for regulating immigration, Castle Garden was placed under a joint State/Federal system administered by the Secretary of the Treasury and the NY State Commission of Immigration.

On April 1, 1890, the Secretary of the Treasury terminated the contract with New York and assumed full control of the New York harborNew York officials became upset with this decision and refused to allow the federal government to use Castle Garden.  Therefore, on April 19, 1890, the U.S. government established a temporary processing center for immigrants at the old Barge Office, which was located at the southern foot of Manhattan, near the Custom House.  This facility was then used until Ellis Island facility was opened on January 1, 1892.

Barge Office
Was also used as the New York Immigration Facility from June 14, 1897 until December 17, 1900 during the time of reconstruction of the Ellis Island buildings after they were destroyed by fire.

Ellis Island 






Great Hall at Ellis Island

Ellis Island was named after Samuel Ellis, a New York merchant who at some point during the American Revolution became the owner of a muddy little island in New York's bay.  Native American had named it Gull Island after the seabirds that flocked there.  The governors of Nieuw Amsterdam bought it in 1630, renamed it Little Oyster Island and proceeded to harvest shellfish.  When pirates were executed there it became Gibbet Island.  In 1808, when it was still owned by the Ellises the defense conscious federal government bought if for $10,000 and it became a fort.  But the Ellis name remained.

After the War of 1812, the island was used for munitions storage until 1890 when the House Committee on Immigration decided that it offered the perfect alternative to Castle Garden immigration stationMore information can be obtained from an article authored by Elin Schoen Brockman in the March, 2004 issue of Hadassah Magazine.

The Port of New York has for centuries been the most used portal to the United States for immigrants from around the world.  While there were many other important entries into the country, it is estimated that more than 100 million Americans are directly related to immigrants who passed through Ellis Island during its tenures as a federal immigration station.  Ellis Island records only start with the 1892 immigration.  While you are seeking information, remember that that New York was not the only port of arrival in the US.  Philadelphia, Boston, Baltimore, Galveston, San Francisco and Canada are some other ports where you can search for more information.  A perfect example was when I started my search for my father, who all along, I had assumed had come through Ellis Island.  I even placed a brass plaque on the 'Wall' at Ellis Island, only to learn later, that he came through Baltimore.

Many immigrants coming through New York, before 1892, may have been processed through the Barge Office.  Here, your avenues are the Ships Manifests which can be found through the Family History Library. You can also try the Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild.

Some knew the Island as the "Isle of Hope". Others knew it as the "Isle of Tears". 

History of Castle Garden and Ellis Island

Immigration History Research Center
A useful source on immigration and ethnic history in America

The full story of this port is available at

Bibliography of Related Instructional Materials may be found at

Passenger and Immigration Lists: New York, 1820 to 1850

The New York Ships' Passenger Manifest Records
List the arrival of more than 22 million immigrants, passengers and crew members who entered through Ellis Island between 1892 and 1924.  They are now available on the Internet and include the following categories:  Immigrant's given and surname, Ethnicity, |Last Residence (Town and Country), Date of Arrival, Age at Arrival, Gender, Marital Status, Ship of Travel, Port of Departure, Line number on which they appear on the Manifest.

Access to the database is also available while visiting the Visitors Center at Ellis Island.

Passenger List Microfilms
U.S. National Archives (NARA) microfilms of U. S. Passenger Arrival Manifests are available through the LDS Family History Centers


You can use my link to Amazon.com to find more books on this subject

"Better Than Gold: An Immigrant Family's First Years in Brooklyn"
Authored by Oshry Efroim

"Jewish Immigrant Associations and American Identity in New York, 1880-1939"
Authored by Daniel Soyer

"The Jewish Immigrant in England 1870 - 1914"
Authored by Lloyd P. Gartner.  Available by using my link to amazon.com

"Jewish Migrants En route From Europe"
Authored by M. Rischin

"Patterns of Migration 1850 - 1914"
Edited by Aubrey Newman and Stephen W. Massil - published by International Academic Conference of the Jewish Historical Society of England and the Institute of Jewish Studies by the University College of London in 1995. Copies may be available from the JHSE offices
ISBN 0- 902528-31-9


American Family Immigration History Center

A relatively new wing of the Ellis Island Immigration Museum which opened in 2001.  There is an exhibit consisting of a series of short documentary films about people researching their families' histories.

Ellis Island
opened on January 1, 1892.  It is estimated that 40 percent or more of Americans can trace their roots back to an ancestor who came through Ellis Island, millions may now be able to find their immigrant ancestors in their database.

The Database
Consists of 22 million immigrants ( 5 million were other travelers and crew members) who came through
Ellis Island
between 1892 and 1924.  This site  now allows access to the passenger information for the un-indexed years before 1897 at Ellis Island.  If someone arrived 1892-1897, you will find them in the new database.
Telephone: 1 212 883 1986 

The EIDB (Ellis Island Database)
About 70% complete as of late 2001.  Thirty percent of 22 million emigrants equals 6,600,000 people who entered through Ellis Island and are not on that database yet.  This 30% would include those who arrived during the 1925 to 195x period. That is a lot of people still not listed.  I have not heard when the 30% additional names will be listed in this database.

"So much of what is in the EIDB depends on what the indexers saw as they tried to read the cursive writing on the manifests.  As those who have poured over numerous manifest could testify, very few of the ships' pursers would have won  penmanship contests.  But to be fair, the difficulty of reading many records was also compounded by fading or damage to the pages during the many years prior to  their being photographed." Howard Relles 

Neither the EIDB, nor the INS indexes include alien passengers that arrived in 1890.  The EIDB starts with 1892 and the INS index starts with 1897 arrivals (to New York

"Page through the original manifests and you will find at the very end of the ship's manifests, several pages of "detained aliens".  You cannot get to this by searching for a person's name, but they are, in fact, scanned and present in the EIDB.  You then must manually scan the pages to find your immigrant.  Most people neglect to review this information although it oftentimes contains additional useful information.  From a posting by Bill Tarkulich bill@iabsi.com on genealogy@infoukes.com

New York City Main Public Library
Has extensive Ship's Manifests films and is worthwhile alternative to using NARA.  It is close to Grand Central Station - 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue.

For aliens from Russia, one index may be of value: Glaziers' "Migration From The Russian Empire,
Lists Of Passengers Arriving At The Port Of New York"


Ellis Island Database Record Search In One Step



Explore Ellis Island
in an unforgettable first-hand testimony from those who risked everything for a chance at the American dream.  The History Channel offers a CD Catalog #AAE-40075 for $49.95 

Ship Manifest
Manifests often extend over more than one page.  You can purchase a page and get more information at

"If all else fails in locating a manifest on the Ellis Island Database, you can always obtain the microfilm containing that manifest from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.  You need to know the date of arrival, the name of the ship, the line on the ship manifest, and the spelling of the name you are searching for.  Given that amount of information, you can easily locate the microfilm number for that ship in their on-line catalog, order it through your local Family History Center for $4.00, and scroll through to locate the individual you are searching.  You can then get a print from the microfilm."  From a posting by Lester Smith on BelarusSIG

Ellis Island informational sites
Designated an immigration station on April 11, 1890
Opened as an immigration station on January 1, 1892
Buildings destroyed by fire, but all persons safely evacuated on June 14, 1897
Reopened as an immigration station, on a larger scale on December 17, 1900
From 19919 to 1954, served as a deportation center as well as an immigration station. Mass immigration ended. Immigrants now were inspected in countries of origin in 1924 Ellis Island closed on November 29, 1954. Reopened with extensive museum exhibits and facilities on September 10, 1990

Ellis Island History
An excellent description of what the immigrants experiences were when they enter the 'Goldenah Land'

Ellis Island Immigration Museum

Ellis Island: Through America's Gateway


Ellis Island - U.S. History

Offers easier access to Ellis Island, How-To articles, Links and more  at

The Wall of Honor
Honor your family name - Prior to the celebration on July 4, 1976, I was honored to be able to submit my father's name to this 'wall of honor'.  It was engraved on a brass plaque, and placed on this wall that runs along one side of Ellis Island and is seen by the thousands who come to Ellis Island each year. Unfortunately for me, later on, I discovered that my father, Sam Margulis came through Baltimore.  His panel is #275.  But my $100 was a mitzvah!




Note: when working with those long URLs from the Ellis Island site, know that the number after "MID=" is your own personal member ID number.

The Los Angeles Family History Library

has all of the films for Soundex Index to Canadian Border Entries through the St. Albans, Vermont, District, 1895-1924 (M1461)

New England Historic Genealogical Society

Has all of the St. Albans records - Soundex and actual manifests - at their library at 99-101 Newbury Street Boston




Passenger and Immigration Lists: Philadelphia, 1800 -1850
Available on a CD from

Philadelphia Information Locator Service (PILS)
Naturalizations: Researching Philadelphia Records, Declaration of Intention, Exceptions to Filing A Declaration, Minors, Petitions for Naturalization, Un-naturalized Aliens, The 5-Year & 2 Year Rules, Interpreting Data From Philadelphia Naturalizations

The Port of Philadelphia
has alphabetical indexes for passenger arrivals that cover 1800-1906 (151 rolls of microfilm) and Soundex indexes that cover 1883-1948 (61 rolls of microfilm).  These are available through the LDS Family History Centers, NARA in Washington, D.C. and the NARA branch in Philadelphia

Philadelphia - Passenger List Microfilms
U.S. National Archives (NARA) microfilms of U. S. Passenger Arrival Manifests are available through the LDS Family History Centers

St. Albans (Vermont)

St. Albans List
St. Alban's is a town in Vermont, but this list nonetheless includes all entries into the US from Canada via Atlantic and Pacific ports and everything in between. A large number of immigrants came to the United States via Canada during the mid- and late nineteenth century, and for them there is no U.S. immigration record. They landed in Canada where no U.S. officer met them or recorded information about their arrival in the United States. The always-growing number of immigrants who chose this route in the late 1800s finally convinced the United States, in 1894, to build and operate the bureaucratic machinery necessary to document the many thousands who each year entered at points along its northern border.

Microfilms are available from the Family History Centers or the National Archives http://www.nara.gov/publications/microfilm/immigrant/rg85.html#sal

Emigrants who found themselves in Canada and decided they wanted to move on to the United States (and went through legally), may be on the St Albans list.  The records of those who crossed into the US from Canada, were often kept on 3 x 5 cards which are now microfilmed. Check out the information available on the NARA website

In addition to the St Albans lists, NARA also has some indexes of crossings from Canada to Detroit. A comprehensive description of the scope of the St. Albans Lists including FAQs and how they can be accessed

The St. Albans Lists (The Canadian Crossings)
Indexed for 1895-1954, and are available on microfilm from NARA (National Archives and Records Administrations

US Ports of Arrival and Their Available Passenger Lists (1820-1957)

The former INS (now called the BCIS) has copies of Naturalization records created after late Sept 1906. To learn how to request copies of these see the "Finding Naturalization Records Created after 1906" section here

Finding US Naturalization Records (a genealogy guide)

Also see the New York link on that page. Be aware that a search with the INS can take several months.



He describes how more than 200 Jewish communities suffered pogroms and along with the desire to find better opportunities, more than 650,000 Russian Jews arrived in the US, two million by 1914.  Two hundred and thirty Jews died in the sinking, and the book contains photos, letters and documents.


Most books, CDs, etc. can be ordered through my link to Amazon.com See also my 'Books' page by clicking here  for more books relating to Genealogy

There is a large collection of books about passenger ships and the shipping industry.  Included are both the "Morton Allan Directory" and "Adler's Directory", which is an alternative to Morton Allan.  Adler's is not in a lot of libraries (HE 945 A2 M6 1987 and HE 945 A2A2); also books containing descriptions, histories and photographs of ships such as

"Passenger Liners of the Western Ocean"
Authored by C. R. Vernon Gibbs (VM 18 G35p)

"Passenger Ships of the World Past and Present"
Authored by Eugene W. Smith (HE 565 A3 S6p)

"North Atlantic Seaway"
Authored by N.R.P. Bonsor (HE 822 B64n 1980)

"Ellis Island Interviews, In their Own Words"
Authored by Peter Coan  This book offers first hand accounts of the immigration experience.
ISBN 0816035482

"The Golden Land: The Story of Jewish Immigration to America"
Authored by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin and published by Crown Publishers/Harmony Books

"Jewish Immigrants of the Nazi Period in the U.S.A.: Guide to the Oral History Collection of the Research Foundation for Jewish Immigration" 

Authored by Herbert A. Strauss

Morton Allan Directory of European Passenger Steamship Arrivals" 

Lists steamship arrivals for the years 1890 to 1930 for the Port of New York and 1904 to 1926 for New York and Philadelphia, Boston and Baltimore.  An index is available at

and the book can be purchased from amazon.com 

or other book sources - 268 pp., (1931), 2001.
ISBN 0806308303  Cloth.

"Shores of Refuge A Hundred Years of Jewish Emigration"

Authored by Ronald Sanders and published by Henry Holt & Co., New York in 1988. He describes Fusgeyers - men and women traveling by foot, sometimes quite organized into groups and putting on performances for their host community as they made their way to coastal cities.
ISBN 0-8050-0563-3

"Special Sorrows: The Diasporic Imagination of Irish, Polish, and Jewish Immigrants in the United States"  

Authored by Matthew Frye Jacobson

Allan Line


Birth, Marriage and Death Procedures on British Ships

"The procedures for BMDs on British registered ships are well known (whether they were always followed is a different question) .  They vary with date, with type of ship (merchant or Royal Navy), status of person (passenger, crew, military), and residence of person (England, Scotland, Ireland)."

"A birth on a merchant ship would have been recorded in the ships log.  Children were often not named so it would be helpful to know his father's name and his mother's unmarried names, as these were often listed."

"When a ship returned to it's home port, the log entry of the birth was reported to the Registrar of Shipping.  These entries were collected in a handwritten register. These have been photocopied (1854 - 1890) and are available through the LDS as four films 1419469 - 1419472.  These (microfilms) are not user-friendly.  They are sometimes illegible and the indexes are only alphabetical by the first letter (i.e. all M surnames are together).  They do, however, make fascinating browsing.  These are the Board of Trade registers."

"At the end of each year, the entries were passed to the General Registry Office who prepared a series of Births and a series of Deaths at sea.  These were split by residence (England, Scotland, Ireland).  These are available from 1837 - 2000) on microfiche.  For 1854- 1890 they should contain the same names as the Board of Trade registers.  These are indexes and do not have the extra information in
the Board of Trade registers."

"So the first place to look is the Board of Trade films (the LDS has those) next the General Registry Office Births at Sea (England) series, and if both those fail, there is a problem.  Births and deaths on the Australia run were common and the ships were familiar with the procedures." From a posting by Harry Dodsworth on 12/20/00 with some slight modifications


Cimorelli Immigration Manifests Online

CIMO - Cimorelli Immigration Manifests
Online by Tony Cimorelli - this is an on-line collection of databases comprised of the Morton Allan Directory, M1066 Microfilm series from NARA, various newspapers articles, Internet sources, and personal contributions

Morton Allen Directory
Includes an online version of the Morton Allen Directory which is used to locate ship arrivals by port, date, by ship's name; Magellan Ship Biographies between 1890 and 1930

Cunard Line

April 25, 1896 to June 6, 1931

The Great Ocean Liners and Immigrant Ships


Just click on the hyperlinks here
The Great Ocean Liners  Immigrant Ships

Great Ships
The postcard and ephemera collection of Jeff Newman

Holland American Lines

"The passenger lists show the name of the ship, its destination, the date it left port and the amounts paid for first, second and third class, sea and train fees.  The passenger's name is included along with the details of passage arrangements.  The indexes are grouped by the first letter of the passenger's surname and begin December 6, 1900.  They include departure date and the name of the ship"  Without knowing the date of arrival, it is nearly impossible to find any desired passenger or which ship.



Ticket sales records for 1900 to 1940
Available in several libraries and from the Family History Library

Immigrant Ships Ship Descriptions

Detailed descriptions of passenger & steamships from Various Internet Mailing Lists by Lou Alfano


Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild

Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild
adds ships passenger lists from random dates, most arriving in New York from 1820 to 1897


KinShips: The Passenger Vessels of Your Immigrant Ancestors


Lloyd's List

A British publication that gives details of vessel movements, marine casualties, and other information of interest to the merchant shipping community by Michael Palmer

Lloyd's Register of (British and Foreign) Shipping

A British publication that describes classifies and registers vessels according to certain criteria of physical structure and equipment, to enable underwriters, shipbrokers, and ship owners more easily to assess commercial risk and to negotiate marine insurance rates - by Michael Palmer

Locating Ship Passenger Lists


Lost Liners




The Maritime Heritage Project

Gold rush Ships, Passengers, Captains.

Maritime Museums




The Ships Navigator Lists of ships, biographies, pictures, ship manifest

National Archives Immigrant and Passenger Arrivals



National Line Transatlantic


New Steamship Consultants

Commercial site selling passenger ship memorabilia


Norwegian America Line

Direct transatlantic

Ocean Liner Museum

Ocean Liner Postcards


Olsen Line Feeder Service


Passenger Ship Lists Index

P&O - Orient Lines


The Red Star Line   (See also "Belgium" above on this page)

Serviced Antwerp-Boston-New York-Philadelphia.  It was used by persons emigrating from Galicia, but was not as popular as the German ports of Hamburg and Bremen.




Register of Ships

Transcribed from the Lloyd's Register of British and Foreign Shipping from 1764 up to 2000 by Gilbert Provost

Royal Regals

A history of Ocean Liners - a history of the great transatlantic ocean liners - RMS Queen Mary, Andrea Doria, Lusitania, and others.  Pictures of interior spaces.

Ship Manifest (Original)

"So, for any of you who feel like going to the actual manifest, I went back and found the exact URL (it is long!)"  To go to the 2nd page of the manifest, it is "previous" and not "next".  Sorry!  I should have added that it is entry line 18, WOHL. From a posting by Alicia Jensen


Select a ship's name at this site and receive detail records for a full year per each ship

S.S. Thetis
Landed in Haifa with a shipload of immigrants from Russia and Romania.  They were mostly members of the Hovevei Zion, the First Aliya and they founded settlements such as Rosh Pinah and Zicron Yaakov.  A photograph of the ship and a list of the immigrants including their place of origin appears in a comprehensive history of Zichron Yaakov called "Zichron Yaakov", written by Arye Samsonov.


Ships' Lists

At this, The Olive Tree Genealogy site you can search more than 50 million names along with a total of 1,269 ships and links to ships

Established to assist those seeking information on the vessels which brought their ancestors to their new home, be that the US, Canada, Australia, or another part of the world.  Some ships passenger lists, schedules, wreck data and other information which is not readily available, has been collected, along with links to other sites of interest


Ship/Ocean Liner Reference Sites


Simplon Postcards

The ship Postcard web site

Steamship Historical Society

They have over 200,000 prints, slides and negatives. Just give them the name of the ship you are interested in.  There is a charge for the copy. They have the largest archive for ship photos that I am aware of in the United States.

Steamship Historical Society

University of Baltimore Library
1420 Maryland Avenue
Baltimore, MD 21201-5779

The Voyage of the SS St Louis

One of the last boats to leave Nazi Germany. On May 13 1939 the St Louis set sail from Hamburg for Havana. The United States refused to let the ship dock. Of the nine hundred and thirty six passengers, 930 had landing certificates for Havana, but only 29 passengers were |allowed to land in Cuba. Ultimately, 460 emigrated to the US, dozens to other countries.  The rest were deported to Sobibor and Auschwitz.

The Tragedy of the S.S. St.Louis

Passenger List

Steve Lawrence sings along with a PowerPoint presentation of the tragic Voyage of the St. Louis.  In the search box type in Steve Lawrence and look for
"Where can I go?" Yiddish song Steve Lawrence

Mortiz Schoenberger, a Hungarian Jew's story


http://www.blechner.com/ssstlouisSimon Wiesenthal CenterMultimedia Learning Center Online - 07466 -STLOUIS.RR



Union Castle Line Passenger Lists


U. S. Department of Justice, Immigration and Naturalization Service

Attn: Ave M. Sloane, Chief,
425 I Street, NW 2nd Floor
Washington, DC 20536


US Ports of Entry

Many immigration stations were set up along the Canadian borders as well as other seaports on the east, west and Texas coast.  Passenger manifest information for these ports have been archived and are available on microfilm at the National Archives as well as the Family History Centers.

There were other ports of entry to the US that were used by people who ended up in short order in New York City.  Some of those ports of entry were elsewhere in New York State.  In addition to Rousse's Point (for trains from Montreal),  Buffalo, Niagara Falls, even Rochester, were ports of entry at various times - including the period around 1903


White Star Line

June 25, 1892 to May 27, 1931

 more to come ... 

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