Immigration and Ships Passenger Lists Research Guide

Section 1.0 - Last updated Aug 2011

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Section 1.0 - INTRODUCTION

1.1 Goal

The goal of this Guide is to help you to use United States Ships Passenger Lists and other Immigration records in locating the origin of your ancestors in Europe, fill in gaps in your family history, and to lead to other avenues of genealogical research .  This step by step guide is written with special consideration given for the beginner researcher.  For the more experienced researcher, it includes numerous links to on-line web sites as well as illustrations of documents, examples, tips, and use of  traditional resources.   Also,a comprehensive list of on-line and off-line resources for obtaining pictures and information about your ancestor's ship is included. 

1.2 How to Use This Guide

Since your chances of succeeding in your search are greatly increased if you follow a prescribed methodology it is suggested that you follow the steps listed below.  Do not skip Section 2, especially, those sections relating to searching on the web, the National Archives, and the LDS Family History Library.  Next, it is suggested that you look at the "detailed guidance" ( in Sections 3.0, 4.0, and 5.0) which provide step-by-step descriptions and examples to conducting your search in the different time periods.

FIRST - It is suggested that you review Section 2.0 "Getting Started" which tells what you need to know and how to use this guide.  In addition to many research tips and hints, that section describes where records and resources are located (such as on-line, the National Archives, the LDS Family History centers, and the library) and how to obtain and use them.  Links to Web sites relating to Passenger Lists are also included in that section.

NEXT - Based on the suggestions in Section 2.0, assemble the Required Information for your ancestor.

NEXT - From the time period that your ancestor arrived in America, refer to the one of the following applicable sections of this Guide and follow the research suggestions and examples in that section:
        Section 3.0 if your ancestor arrived before 1820,
        Section 4.0 if your ancestor arrived between 1820 and about 1891, or
        Section 5.0 if your ancestor arrived after about 1891.

FINALLY - After you have found the listing for your ancestor and found the name of your ancestor's ship, useSection 6.0 to  get pictures and information about that ship.

Section 7.0  "References" includes all on-line and many off-line references discussed in other sections of this guide.  Links to web sites containing ship passenger list information which are continually appearing on the web are added to this section as time permits..

Section 8.0 "Naturalization" provides information and procedures to find naturalization records which can be useful in research of immigrants and may help to locate your ancestor's ship.

Section 9.0 "Passport Records" provides procedures for locating these records of those naturalized immigrants who may have had passports when they returned to visit their home country.

1.3 Discussion

There were a number of lists generated when a European emigrated to the US.

Also, Passport Applications and Naturalization papers are also useful in locating the origin of your ancestor.

All of these lists may be of help in finding the origin of your ancestor as well as other historical information.  This Guide is generally limited to the Ship's Passenger Lists, Passport Applications, and Naturalization records.

Ships Passenger Lists. Most of our ancestors came to the United States on ships. Every one of these ships had its passenger list or manifest and many of these lists have survived. However, the amount of information and the availability of the information on these lists varies with different time periods. Therefore, this guide is divided into three time periods;

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Copyright © Arnold H. Lang 2002