Immigration records, also known as "ship passenger arrival records," may provide genealogists with information such as:
- one's nationality, place of birth
- ship name and date of entry to the United States
- age, height, eye and hair color
- place of last residence
- name and address of relatives they are joining in the U.S.
- amount of money they are carrying, etc.
We have immigration records for arrivals to the United States from foreign ports between approximately 1820 and 1982. The records are arranged by Port of Arrival.
Many of NARA's immigration / passenger list records have been digitized by our partners. See our list of all the digitized records that are available on our partner's websites
Familysearch.org is a free site. Ancestry and Fold3 are both subscription services that allow free searches of some or all index terms for each title. Free access to Ancestry.com and Fold3.com is available in all Research Rooms at the National Archives, including those in our regional archives and Presidential libraries.
Agreements with our partners are such that there will eventually be free access online to all these digitized records, as the records will be put into the National Archives Catalog.
We do not have passenger lists available online, however we do have a list of the microfilm available for each port.
Microfilm copies of passenger lists up to 1955 are available at the National Archives Building in Washington, D.C. Some of the microfilm is also available at NARA's regional facilities, but you should call them first to check on their passenger list holdings.
You can also search the Microfilm Catalog to see which locations have the microfilm you are seeking. Type in Passenger as the keyword.
Read more about where to access immigration records.
Indexes are available for most of the ports. NARA does not have an index to New York for 1847 to 1896. However, there are a few partial databases available that may help.
- In our AAD Database, there are 604,596 persons listed who arrived in the Port of New York, from 1846-1851.
In AAD, under Browse by Category, choose Genealogy/Personal History, then select the database Records for Passengers Who Arrived at the Port of New York During the Irish Famine, created, 1977 - 1989, documenting the period 1/12/1846 - 12/31/1851.
- Castle Garden (http://www.castlegarden.org/) has an online searchable database of 10 million immigrants from 1830 through 1892, the year Ellis Island opened. From 1855 to 1890, Castle Garden was America's first official immigration center.
- Ellis Island has an online searchable database of 22.5 million arrivals to New York between 1892 - 1924.
- Ancestry.com has indexed the New York Passenger Lists by ships arriving to New York from foreign ports from 1820 - 1957. Ancestry is a subscription-based database, but it is available for free public use at all National Archives facilities and many public libraries.
We don't have passenger lists of vessels arriving before January 1, 1820, though there is a small, incomplete series for the port of Philadelphia beginning in 1800, and for the port of New Orleans, 1813-1819. Most pre-1820 records that exist in other repositories have been published. Read more about pre-1820 passenger lists.
For a General Overview and More Information, see:
- Immigration Records (Ship Passenger Arrival Records)
- Order copies of passenger lists online, or with NATF Form 81
Specific Immigration Topics
- Canadian Border Crossing Records, an article in Prologue
- Chinese Immigration and Chinese in the United States: Records in NARA's Regional Archives
- Documenting Immigrants: An Examination of Immigration and Naturalization Service Case Files by Paul Wormser. Paper for CIDS Program, 1995.
- German Immigration to the U.S., 1850-1897, data files in the Access to Archival Databases (AAD)
- Irish Famine Passenger Records in the Access to Archives Databases (AAD).
This database identifies 604,596 persons who arrived in the Port of New York, from 1846-1851. Despite the name of the records, approximately 30 percent of the passengers list their native country as other than Ireland.
- Italian Immigration to the U.S., 1855-1900, data files in the Access to Archival Databases (AAD)
- Russian Immigration to the U.S., 1834-1897, data files in the Access to Archival Databases (AAD)
- Great Lakes Crew Lists
- Case Files for Early Immigrants to San Francisco and Hawaii, Early Arrivals Records Search (EARS), a collaboration between U.C. Berkeley and the National Archives
- Mexican Border Crossing Records
- View Selected Chinese Immigration Records Online
- The Red Star Line: Changing America's Face and Place in the World
- Genealogical CD-ROMS on Immigration in the Archives Library Information Center, National Archives Building, Washington, DC
- See the Passenger Arrival Records of the von Trapp Family