Immigration Record SourcesPosted by Administrator on November 30th, 2011
By Sherry Stevens, professional genealogist
Looking for your ancestor’s immigration story? In what year did Great-grandpa arrive? What ship did he arrive on, and what were its living conditions? Who were his traveling companions? In what port did he first disembark in his new country? These popular websites might just tell his immigration tale:
If your ancestor arrived in the port of New York between 1820 through 1892, Castle Garden was where they were processed. This was the facility used before Ellis Island was built. At this website, you can search a database of 11 million immigrants.
If your ancestor arrived through the port of New York between 1892 and 1924, they would have been processed at Ellis Island. The Ellis Island website provides free access to 22 million records of passenger arrivals. You can now also search by ship name as well. The excellent photos on this site provide and even richer insight into the immigrant processing experience. Registration is required for searching, but it is free.
Perhaps your ancestor arrived through a port other than New York, such as Baltimore, Galveston, San Francisco, Philadelphia, etc. This website by Steve Morse allows you to search arrivals at these ports, as well as Ellis Island and Castle Garden. Steve’s sophisticated search engine also allows a search of many types of immigration records in “one step”. Some searches on this site will link to Ancestry.com, for which you still need a subscription.
This site is fee-based, but much of it is free at your local library or FamilySearch center. It contains images of immigration records from the 1500’s to the 1900’s. Even if your ancestor was not of European descent, don’t forget to check the records of those coming in from the UK or Hamburg. Many immigrants transferred to ships in these ports before crossing the Atlantic.
This free site contains millions of records in its Migration and Naturalization collection. The records are organized by port and year, and then by surname. All records on this database are digitized, so a view of the original document is available.
This site is a source of great links to immigration records. Most of them are organized by port and year, so it ’s easy to search this site fast.
You can search this site by passenger name, arrival date, or ship name. Here you will find information about voyages, ship descriptions, and even photos or drawings of the ships. The collection also includes an extensive list of Australian and Canadian arrivals.
Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild
Links! Links! Links! This site contains over 11,000 ship’s passenger lists and links to the immigration records of many nationalities and ethnic groups. It even includes arrivals at ports all over the world. Although not extremely user-friendly, its extensive collection is hard to beat.
If your ancestor can’t be found in these popular websites, it may be because he or she had a common name or a name spelled in a way you didn’t expect. Perhaps you need to learn the year of immigration first. Perhaps your ancestor arrived at an unexpected port or came across the border from Canada. In future articles we will explore ways to find the more elusive immigration records. Until then, happy hunting!
P.S. For expert help with your genealogical research, contact me at http://www.mygenpro.com/.