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Immigration After 1820 Quick Start

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U.S. Customs Passenger Lists began in 1820.  They usually give the immigrant’s name, age, sex, occupation, country of origin, port of departure, destination, date of arrival, and name of the vessel.  Immigration lists or “ship manifests”, which first began being used in 1883, give more detailed information.  This might include the exact birthplace, last residence, physical description, town of last residence, and names and addresses of relatives in the U.S. and in the “old country.”  Between 1820 and 1920, 35 million immigrants arrived at U.S. ports and 82% of these came to the port of New York. 

U.S. Passenger Arrival Lists:  To search for existing passenger lists, you at least need to know your ancestor
Full Name __________________________________________ Approximate Age _______
Approximate Date of Arrival ______________________ Port of Arrival _______________

If you do not know the year of arrival
, try searching a 1900, 1910, 1920 or 1930 census first.

It will help if you also know or can find your ancestor’s….
Country of Birth ______________________________ Port of Departure ________________
Name of Ship ________________________________
Place of Settlement in U.S. __________________________
Date and Place Naturalized __________________________

 Resources at Mesa Family History Center (MFSL):  (Code for location:  S = Stacks or the book shelves, REF = Reference Area). 

First check – Immigration Collection, which is free if accessed through MFSL “Start Search, Find Ancestors, Ancestry, Ancestry”.
General Lists for U.S. Ports
Microfilm numbers of indexes and lists, 1820-1950, for Baltimore, Boston, New Orleans, Philadelphia and other misc. ports including Canadian are located in the Green binder at the Reference Desk.
Passenger lists
online –
CyndisList – Ships & Passenger Lists, Go to Ships & Passenger lists; General Resource Sites, Passenger lists on the internet.
Mormon Immigration
– Index CD on most computers (Vital Records Viewer). Includes journal entries, will soon be online.
Immigration Ships Transcribers Guild, listed by port of entry.
Passenger and immigration Lists: Boston 1821-1850 – available on 2 CD computers by the “stacks,” CD # 9000305.
Slave manifests This is a manifest for the Port of New Orleans. NARA record group 36, records the movement of slaves between U.S. ports, 1818-1860.
Index of 1890 & 1891 New York Immigrants
New York Daily Times Passenger Lists, published 1851-1865 and 1865-1873, for passengers bound for California via overland trip through Nicaragua or Panama  (with an emphasis on the California Gold Rush).
Passenger Lists from mainly UK and Continental Europe to Australia, Canada, South Africa, New Zealand and the U.S.
InGeneas Canadian Passenger Records from 18th to 20th century –  

New York Lists

Ellis Island arrivals between 1892-1924, approx. 22 million passengers –
Additional access to Ellis Island website and other immigration records –
Immigration and Naturalization Service – Register of Vessels Arriving at the Port of NY from foreign ports, 1789-1919; they are listed chronological and alphabetical by name of the vessel.  Do a Family History Library Catalog title search, which lists film numbers between 1415143-1415169.
Index to Passenger Lists Arriving at New York 1820-1943 (List of film numbers) – can be found on the West wall reference area in a Black Book numbered (REF) 973 W32.

To Find German Immigrants (To access German Quick Start click here)
To Find Irish Immigrants (To access Ireland Quick Start click here)


Italian Immigration Filby, P. William, Italians to America 1880-1899, S 973 W2it
Immigrant Ships
– Louis S. Alfano
Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies  (Historical Society of Pennsylvania) 
Swenson Swedish Immigration Research Center
TheShipsList Home Page
The genealogy page
Morton-Allan Directory
– lists arrival date for every steamship entering New York, 1890-1930, and Boston, Baltimore and Philadelphia, 1904-1926, from Europe.  You may search by date or ship. (S) 973 U3m 1930.
Steuart, Bradley W
., Passenger Ships Arriving in NY Harbor, 1820-1850, Volume 1, (S) 974.71 W3s

 Additional internet sites may be found by using a search engine such as Google and entering “immigration” or “genealogy.”  Data is added to sites daily.

 For Additional Sources: or Library Catalog menu

Research Outlines are available in the Copy Room or at:

Tracing Immigration Origins United States, p. 24-28

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