The EARS Have It: Doing an EARS Search
Fall 2003, Vol. 35, No. 3
The University of California - NARA online Early Arrivals Records database provides multiple public access points. The most commonly used are last name, first name, case file number, place of birth, and ship. The results for each person will include:
- Last name, first name, middle name
- Case file number
- Date of arrival
- Year of birth OR age on arrival
- House number and street (if born in San Francisco)
- Port of arrival
Finding the case file number requires knowing the name that the immigrant or traveler used on the papers. For a number of reasons, this may differ from the actual or commonly used name. A more time-consuming way is simply to browse the output display from whatever search criteria you use - country of origin (very large numbers for Chinese), or the name of a ship. It is also possible to create one's own database by downloading the search results as an Excel spreadsheet file.
The biggest shortcoming of the EARS project is that it relies on an index that is incomplete - a situation NARA hopes to remedy over time. The 35,000 names in the current index represent but a tiny fraction of the investigation case files held at NARA - San Francisco.