Prologue Magazine

Accessing the Passenger Arrival Data Records

Winter 2017–18, Vol. 49, no. 4 | Genealogy Notes

By Lynn Goodsell

[Return to "Ireland’s Famine Children “Born at Sea”]

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Example of search results from the Access to Archival Databases (AAD) resource.

The National Archives’ Access to Archival Databases (AAD) resource allows researchers to conduct online searches of approximately six million records of selected 19th-century passengers who arrived at the ports of Baltimore, Boston, New Orleans, New York, and Philadelphia.

The Center for Immigration Research at the Balch Institute transcribed these records from a selection of original ship manifests into electronic databases and donated the digital records to the National Archives. This article has looked at Irish Famine records, but the records in the following series document arrivals from several countries.

  • Data Files Relating to the Immigration of Russians to the United States, 1834–1897
  • Records for Passengers Who Arrived at the Port of New York During the Irish Famine, 1/12/1846–12/31/1851
  • Data Files Relating to the Immigration of Germans to the United States, 1850–1897
  • Data Files Relating to the Immigration of Italians to the United States, 1855–1900

The records use more than 100 unique “country” codes. In each of the respective series, about 90 percent or more of these passengers identified their country of origin or nationality as Russia or part of the Russian empire, Ireland, Germany or a German state or city, or Italy or a part of Italy. The remaining passengers in each series identified other countries of origin.

For example, in the Data Files Relating to the Immigration of Germans to the United States, there is a record for Lillian Nordica, a prominent American opera singer who returned to the United States through the port of New York in 1895 after a trip abroad. There is also a record for Carl Laemmle, a German who immigrated to the United States in 1884 and later co-founded the Universal Pictures Company, Inc. (also known as Universal Studios).

Each series includes two files. One file contains passenger records with information such as name, age, town of last residence, country of origin, destination, and some other details. The other file contains information on each ship and includes the name of the ship, date of arrival, and port of departure. Both the passenger records and the ship manifest records contain a manifest identification number, which links the two records. The manifest identification number also indicates the port of arrival.

These passenger records are available online for searching and viewing at More details about the records series and files are also available via AAD. Please contact the electronic records staff at with any questions about AAD.

Lynn Goodsell  is the Reference Branch Chief for NARA's Electronic Records Division. She prepared the Germans, Italians, and Russians data files for AAD.


Articles published in Prologue do not necessarily represent the views of NARA or of any other agency of the United States Government.