Passenger Lists << Immigration Records <<
| Go to the Ship Passenger Arrival Guide for 1820-1892 |
Ship Passenger Arrival Lists
| Go to the Ship Passenger Arrival Guide for 1893-1954 |
Between 1820 and 1891, when ships carrying immigrants docked in America, their officers were required to turn in passenger lists to U.S. Customs agents. These Customs Passenger Lists contain:
Lists generated between 1891 and 1954 are referred to Immigration Passenger Lists and contain more information than their earlier counterparts. Beginning in 1893, port records added the following items to the information collected:
- Each immigrant's name
- Country of origin
- Marital status
- Last residence
- Final destination in the U.S.
- Whether they had been to the U.S. before (and if so, when, where and how long)
- If joining a relative, who this person was, where they lived, and the nature of the relationship
- Whether able to read and write
- Whether in possession of train ticket to final destination
- Who paid for the passage
- Amount of money the immigrant had in their possession
- Whether the passenger had ever been in prison, a poorhouse, or in an institution for the insane, or was a polygamist
- Immigrant's state of health
In 1906, a personal description and place of birth were added and in 1907, the name and address of the closest living relative in the home country was required.
Not all passenger lists for all ports have survived, but thousands have and are held by the National Archives. New York City was the main arrival port between 1820 and 1920, processing some 24 million immigrants. Other major ports include Baltimore (1820-1952), Boston (1848-1891 and 1902-1920), New Orleans (1853-1952), and Philadelphia (1800-1948). There are also records available for a number of smaller ports such as Portland, Maine; Providence, Rhode Island; Galveston, Texas; and San Francisco, California. It's also useful to know that records exist for some land crossing points, such as the Canadian-American border.