Passenger lists are important primary sources of arrival data for the vast majority of immigrants to the United States in the nineteenth century. In the mid-1800s, immigrants (particularly Irish, Germans, and Italians) flocked to the port of New York. Indexed and easy to search, this database references approximately 1.6 million individuals who arrived in New York between January 7, 1820 and December 31, 1850.
- Name, age, and gender of immigrant
- Country of origin
- Port of departure
- Date of arrival in the U.S.
- Destination in the U.S.
- Name of the ship on which the person traveled (often the type of ship is noted as well)
- Family identification number
- National Archives series and microfilm roll numbers
The information collected for this database was taken from the National Archives Microfilm Series M237, rolls 1 through 95 (Registers of Vessels Arriving at the Port of New York from Foreign Ports, 1789-1919). While the volumes vary in dates covered and information recorded, the information you can obtain from this database can help you create a well-rounded picture of your ancestor’s arrival in America.
Partly in an effort to alleviate overcrowding of passenger ships, Congress enacted legislation (3 Stat. 489) on March 2, 1819 to regulate the transport of passengers in ships arriving from foreign ports. As a provision of this act, masters of such ships were required to submit a list of all passengers to the collector of customs in the district in which the ship arrived. The legislation also provided that the collector of customs submit quarterly passenger list reports to the Secretary of State, who was, in turn, required to submit the information to Congress. The information was then published in the form of Congressional documents. These passenger lists are important primary sources of arrival data for the vast majority of immigrants to the United States in the nineteenth century.
A further Congressional act passed on May 7, 1874 repealed the legislative provision requiring collectors to send copies of passenger lists to the Secretary of State. Thereafter, collectors of customs were to send only statistical reports on passenger arrivals to the Department of Treasury.