Steps you should take and things that you should know to make your research easier
TABLE OF CONTENTS (click on any link to view)
Before you start, know the FULL name, approximate DATE , and PORT of arrival as a minimum
|2.1.1 - The full,
2.1.2 - The approximate date of arrival in America
2.1.3 - The approximate age when he arrived in America
2.1.4 - The port of arrival
2.1.5 - Additional Useful Information
Using Census Records and Naturalization Records to find the needed information
|2.2.1 - Family
History, Family Records and Previous Research
2.2.2 - Census Records (Includes image of Census Record)
2.2.3 - Naturalization Record
2.2.4 - Passport Records
|Introduction (Read this first- then read the next two
2.3.1 Types of Passenger Lists (Pre 1820, Customs - 1820 to 1891, Immigration - 1891 to 1857)
2.3.2 General Research Approach (The three steps to organized research)
2.3.3 Using the Internet (Links to Web sites having passenger list databases)
2.3.4 Getting help on the Web -Using Ship's Mailing Lists (Get your queries answered & possibly look-ups)
2.3.5 Searching at the National Archives (Search at the Archives or its branches or request look-ups)
2.3.6 Using the Family History Library of the Church of the Latter Day Saints (All passenger lists are available at the world's largest genealogical library )
2.3.7 Using Libraries (Obtaining passenger lists on inter-library loan)
2.3.8 CD-ROM's relating to Ship Passenger Lists (New CD-ROM's contain passenger lists)
Every ship that arrived in the United States with passengers had its passenger list or manifest. Many of these lists have survived. This Section 2.0 provides general guidelines to prepare you for your search and to help you find and use these records. It is best to use a methodical approach in searching these records. It is recommended that you first find all of the data as defined by Section 2.1. Then, scan the rest of Section 2.0 to see generally how to locate the passenger lists and how to use the various resource facilities in researching these lists. Finally, jump to either Section 3.0 (before 1820), Section 4.0 (1820 to 1891), or Section 5.0 (after 1891), as applicable, for detailed guidance and examples for researching the passenger lists in the time period that your ancestor arrived in the United States.
2.1.1 - The Ancestor's Full, Original Name
Knowing the port of arrival in America is very important. The passenger lists are first filed by the port of arrival, then by date. When searching in the years after 1820, having this information will greatly reduce the research time by limiting the search to only one port. Additionally, knowing the port of arrival is absolutely necessary if you request the National Archives to perform a search of the Ships Passenger Lists for your ancestor.
2.1.5 - Additional Useful Information
Other information that may reduce your research time, provide alternative approaches to the research process, and/or provide a more positive identification of the name that you may find in the passenger list includes:
2.2 - Where You Can Find the Required Information
2.2.1 - Family History and Previous Research
Your family history as obtained from relatives, ancestors, etc., and previous research may provide much of the required information. This information may also include other useful data; such as the port your ancestor(s) arrived at, who they may have traveled with, the time of year that they arrived, the name of the ship, or the name of the ship line. You should make note of all such related information. It may help you to narrow your search.
2.2.2 - Census Records
If your immigrant ancestors were alive and in the United States during the census years of 1900, 1910, or 1920, the census records may provide the age, place of birth, immigration date, whether naturalized or naturalization applied for, and the naturalization date.
Click on image for an example of a census record showing Immigration and Naturalization information.
CAUTION: The census records, like many other records, should not be trusted without confirmation. Remember that a child, or other person may have given the information to the census taker. He may not have had first-hand knowledge regarding your ancestor, and therefore you can spend many fruitless hours of searching the passenger lists when that research is based on incorrect information from a single census record. You should check the census records for as many different years as possible.
For more information about the US census, you may look at the following Web sites:
Online catalog of microfilm census records held by the National Archives from 1790–1930
An introduction to Censuses Records from NARA
Census Records: History - how to use them
Lists what information is available on each of the census from 1850 to 1930. —
The use and background of the U.S. Federal Census —. It may be valuable to you to look at the part concerning "Glitches found in the Census".
Ancestry's Census Records page includes: Information found in the U.S. Federal Census, Requesting Records, Information Required for Requesting Records, and Alternative Approaches
Census on CD's and the Web
Heritage Quest has Census Microfilms & CD-ROMs. Their online service may be availble from your local library. Heritage Quest has now imaged all of the federal census schedules from 1790 to 1920. . For more information, visit: Heritage Quest Catelog
Ancestry.com has been adding a census database to their
existing collection of finding aids.
This database now includes all census schedules and indexes from
1790 through 1930 census. You can perform an initial
search to determine what records may exist for your ancestor by
following the procedure below. However, only members who
subscribe to Ancestry.com can access the actual census
data. The overall database includes census indexes
such as the AIS Census Indexes and a mixture of federal and
state census indexes, mortality schedules, veterans
schedules,pensioners lists, slave schedules and a few other
types of records. For a complete list of the records
Ancestry.com Then: Click on "Census & Voter Records"
2.2.3 - Naturalization Records - See Section 8.0 of this Guide for finding Naturalization Records
If your immigrant ancestor arrived in the 1800's and was naturalized, you should search for the Declaration of Intentions. From this document, you can obtain:
HINT Knowing what port your ancestor arrived at can be extremely helpful in narrowing your research of passenger lists in the 1800's where no indexes are available. It is advised that you search for the Declaration of Intentions to obtain this information. If you cannot find the "Declaration" and you still do not know the exact port, you should investigate internal migration patterns within America. There are a number of reference books that describe these migration patterns.
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2.2.4 - Passport Records - See Section 9.0 of this Guide for finding Passport Records
Passport applications also may help resolve the problem of locating your ancestral home. Naturalized immigrants may have applied for passports when they may have returned to visit their native countries. If they did apply for a passport, their passport records would generally provide information regarding:
Continue to Section 2.3 - General Approach to Research
Copyright © Arnold H. Lang 2002