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Discovering U.S. Passenger Lists on Ancestry

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Ancestry, the world's leading resource for online family history & genealogy brings you a deep dive on understanding United States passenger lists to discover your ancestors.

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Discovering U.S. Passenger Lists on Ancestry

  1. 1. Discovering U.S. Passenger Lists on Ancestry Juliana Szucs, Social Community Manager, Ancestry
  2. 2. Eras of Immigration: Pre-1820 Passenger Lists • No laws required captains to maintain passenger lists • No central repository holds manifests created prior to 1820 • Bad news: some have been lost or destroyed • Good news: some survived Brig Friendship, of Shields, England, 1814 From Philadelphia Passenger Lists, 1800-1945 on Ancestry.com Washington, May 1800
  3. 3. Eras of Immigration: Pre-1820 Passenger Lists • No laws required captains to maintain passenger lists • No central repository holds manifests created prior to 1820 • Bad news: some have been lost or destroyed • Good news: some survived • More good news: Some were published Brig Friendship, of Shields, England, 1814 From Emigrants from England to the American Colonies, 1773-1776 on Ancestry.com
  4. 4. Eras of Immigration: Pre-1820 Passenger Lists  Sometimes immigration information was included in other biographical publications. From Directory of Scots in the Carolinas, 1680-1830 on Ancestry.com From Great Migration Begins Index: Immigrants to New England, 1620-33 on Ancestry.com
  5. 5. Finding What’s Available on Ancestry.com
  6. 6. Eras of Immigration: 1820s to 1890s • Steerage Act of 1819, aimed at regulating overcrowding on ships, required a list be submitted to the customs collector at the port of arrival. • “Customs Manifests” or “Customs Passenger Lists” required: o Ship and captain’s name o Ports of departure and arrival o Date of arrival o Passenger name o Age o Gender o Occupation o Nationality
  7. 7. Eras of Immigration: 1820s to 1890s From the lists of passengers arriving in Charleston, South Carolina, January-March 1825, Atlantic Ports Passenger Lists, 1820-1873 and 1893-1959 Unlike most passenger arrival records, this list was compiled at the port of arrival. Ships are listed in order of arrival.
  8. 8. Births and Deaths on Board • You may find births noted on manifests. • Sometimes with the parents’ listing. From the Highland Mary, arrived Port of New York, 01 June 1852 • Sometimes at the end of the manifest. From the Science, arrived Port of New York, 07 November 1831
  9. 9. Deaths on Board • Deaths were typically noted with a date.
  10. 10. Eras of Immigration: 1890s to 1957  In 1891 responsibility for passenger lists was transferred to the U.S. Office of Immigration. Additional information was required throughout 1890s-1900s. Forms were standardized in 1893. Changes to the form in 1903, 1906, and 1907.  Marital status  Last residence–town names!  Final destination  If they have been in the U.S. and when, where, and how long  Where they going to join a relative, who and where  Whether they could read and write  If they have a train ticket to their final destination  Who paid for the passage  How much money were they carrying  If they had ever been in prison, an almshouse, institution for the insane  Whether they polygamists  If they had a contract to work in the U.S.  Whether they were healthy  Ethnic background  Name/address of relative in the old country
  11. 11. Immigration Records on Ancestry • Ancestry immigrant arrival records include more than 132 collections with 140 million+ records. • Collections span every state along every coast, plus border states. • Because the records are in so many collections, it’s best to search on the category (Immigration & Travel) or sub-category (Passenger Lists or Border Crossings & Passports) levels. 11
  12. 12. Searching Immigration Collections
  13. 13. Searching Immigration Collections Search the entire category or narrow to just Passenger Lists or Border Crossings & Passports
  14. 14. What Do You Need to Know to Search? • Age of the immigrant (You can estimate from census, vital records, etc.) • Family structure, including extended family who may be traveling with your ancestor • Nationality • Estimated date of arrival
  15. 15. Narrowing the Arrival Date
  16. 16. Narrowing the Arrival Date
  17. 17. Narrowing the Arrival Date • Check censuses for 1900-1930; they list arrival dates
  18. 18. Narrowing the Arrival Date • State censuses 1925 Iowa State Census from the Iowa State Census Collection, 1836-1925 on Ancestry.com Davenport, Scott County, Image 4
  19. 19. Narrowing the Arrival Date • Vital records may include number of years in this country
  20. 20. Other Considerations 20 • Ethnic given names • Jan=John, etc. • BehindtheName.com is a good starting point. • Learn about ethnic pronunciation of surnames • Mekalski, Mekala, Menkalski, Menkala, Menkalska • ę = “en” sound • Place names may be spelled phonetically • Wyszków, Wiszkow, Vyszkov, Wischkow • An ancestor may have given a county or province. • Look for evidence of aliases and name changes in passports, naturalization records and other documents.
  21. 21. Wishing you the best of luck with your search!

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