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The main uses of passenger lists in genealogical research are to prove an immigrant's date and port of arrival in the United States or his/her date and port of departure from another country. These lists can provide clues to the areas where an immigrant ancestor lived. However, it is unusual to find the exact location of birth or residence included in lists produced prior to about 1890.
A good introduction to the topic of ships' passenger lists, providing an historical and legal background as well as an explanation of what they may contain, where they can be found, and how they can be used is found in:
Tepper, Michael. American Passenger Arrival Records. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1988 [CSL call number HistRef CS 68 .T46 1988].
Filby, P. William, ed. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index: a Guide to Published Arrival Records of about 500,000 Passengers who Came to the United States and Canada in the Seventeenth, Eighteenth, and Nineteenth Centuries. 3 volumes plus annual supplements. Detroit: Gale Research Co., 1981- [CSL call number HistRef CS 68 .F537]. This is currently the most comprehensive alphabetical list of passengers available, and is a good place to start a search. However, it is not inclusive by any means, and the items listed below should also be consulted since it is based on published lists only. Many passenger lists have never been published.
These are lists of ships' passenger lists available, and do not contain names of individual passengers. The best grouping of lists is:
Filby, P. William, ed. Passenger and Immigration Lists Bibliography, 1538-1900. Second Edition. Detroit: Gale Research Co., 1988 [CSL call number HistRef Z 5313 .U5 F54 1988]. This gives a good general description of each list. It is a revised and enlarged version of the following item, which the researcher may or may not wish to consult:
Lancour, Harold, comp. A Bibliography of Ship Passenger Lists, 1538-1825; Being a Guide to Published Lists of Early Immigrants to North America. Third Edition. New York: New York Public Library, 1978 [CSL call number HistRef Z 7164 .I3 L2 1978].
This bibliography was for many years the principal reference work on published ship passenger lists, citing sources of lists in books and periodicals. Most of the items cited may be found in larger public and university libraries. The need to track down the periodical sources cited in Lancour has been largely eliminated by the work of two energetic compilers, Carl Boyer and Michael Tepper. Each of these men has published lists in separate collections.
Carl Boyer and Michael Tepper, each using a different format, have undertaken to publish the names in Lancour's lists. Carl Boyer has been issuing the lists according to their numerical order in Lancour. Books have been briefly annotated; periodical articles are usually reprinted in their entirety or, if a recent monograph contains a reprint of the article, that work will be cited fully.
Boyer, Carl. Ship Passenger Lists, National and New England (1600-1825). Newhall, CA: Boyer, 1977 [CSL call number HistRef CS 68 .B748 1977]. Covers Lancour entries 1-71.
__________. Ship Passenger Lists, New York and New Jersey (1600-1825). Newhall, CA: Boyer, 1978 [CSL call number HistRef CS 68 .B749 1978]. Covers Lancour entries 72-115.
__________. Ship Passenger Lists, Pennsylvania and Delaware (1641-1825). Newhall, CA: Boyer, 1980 [CSL call number HistRef CS 68 .B752 1980]. Covers Lancour entries 116-197.
__________. Ship Passenger Lists, the South (1538-1825). Newhall, CA: Boyer, 1979 [CSL call number HistRef CS 68 .B75]. Covers Lancour entries 198E-243.
Michael Tepper has taken a different approach: three volumes cover lists which appeared in three major periodicals, and a fourth volume covers those in miscellaneous periodicals. Tepper's coverage of Lancour is not comprehensive: an inventory of those articles omitted appears on pages viii, ix and x of New World Immigrants.
Tepper, Michael. New World Immigrants: a Consolidation of Ship Passenger Lists and Associated Data from Periodical Literature. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1979 [CSL call number HistRef CS 68 .N48].
__________. Passengers to America: A Consolidation of Ship Passenger Lists From the New England Historical and Genealogical Register. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1977 [CSL call number HistRef CS 68 .P37 1977].
__________. Emigrants to Pennsylvania, 1641-1819: a Consolidation of Ship Passenger Lists from the Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1978 [CSL call number HistRef F 148 .E5 1975].
__________. Immigrants to the Middle Colonies: a Consolidation of Ship Passenger Lists and Associated Data from The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1978 [CSL call number HistRef F 106 .I47].
Specific Ethnic Groups
The following are examples of immigration lists for some of the ethnic groups that settled in Connecticut. Most of these works focus on the immigrations of the late 1800s or before.
Most early studies of passenger lists focused on immigrants from Great Britain. Recently British scholar Peter Wilson Coldham has published a number of books compiled from British sources with the aim of including all early English emigrants to America. Selected titles include:
Coldham, Peter Wilson. The Complete Book of Emigrants. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1987- [CSL call number HistRef CS 61 .C625 1987].
__________. The Complete Book of Emigrants in Bondage, 1614-1775. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1988 [CSL call number CS 61 .C62 1988].
__________. Emigrants from England to the American Colonies, 1773-1776. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1988 [CSL call number HistRef CS 68 .C65 1988].
During the 1980s scholars began to focus on the great immigration period of the mid-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Sources covering passenger lists of specific groups for these time periods include:
Glazier, Ira A. and Filby, P. William, eds. Germans to America: Lists of Passengers Arriving at U.S. Ports, 1850- . Wilmington: Scholarly Resources, 1988- [CSL call number E 184 .G3 G38 1988].
Schenk, Trudy. The Wuerttemberg Emigration Index. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, Inc., 1986- [CSL call number CS 627 .W86 S34 1986].
Yoder, Don, ed. Pennsylvania German Immigrants, 1709-1786: Lists Consolidated from Yearbooks of the Pennsylvania German Folklore Society. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1980 [CSL call number F 160 .G3 P43].
Zimmerman, Gary J. and Wolfert, Marion. German Immigrants; Lists of Passengers Bound from Bremen to New York, 1847- . Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1985- [CSL call number E 184 .G3 G47 1985].
Voultsos, Mary. Greek Immigrant Passengers, 1885-1910. 3 vols. Worcester, MA: The Author, 1992 [CSL call number E 184 .G7 V68 1991].
__________. Index, Greek Immigrant Passengers, Port of Boston, 1902-1906. Worcester, MA: The Author, 1993 [CSL call number E 184 .G7 V685 1993].
Glazier, Ira A. and Tepper, Michael, eds. The Famine Immigrants: Lists of Irish Immigrants Arriving at the Port of New York 1846- [CSL call number E 184 .I6 F25 1983].
Mitchell, Brian. Irish Passenger Lists, 1847-1871: Lists of Passengers Sailing from Londonderry to America on Ships of the J. & J. Cooke Line and the McCorkell Line. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1988 [CSL call number E 184 .I6 I69 1988].
Schlegel, Donald M. Passengers from Ireland: Lists of Passengers Arriving at American Ports Between 1811 and 1817. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1980 [CSL call number E 184 .I6 S34].
Glazier, Ira A. and Filby, P. William, eds. Italians to America: Lists of Passengers Arriving at U.S. Ports, 1880- . Wilmington, Delaware: Scholarly Recourses, Inc., 1992- [CSL call number E 184 .I8 I844 1992].
Glazier, Ira A., ed. Migration from the Russian Empire: Lists of Passengers Arriving at the Port of New York. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1995- [CSL call number E 184 .R9 M54 1995].
One of the traditional genealogical goals has been to join a hereditary society based on descent from a passenger from a specific ship. The most prominent of these, for those with New England roots, is probably the Mayflower Society. The Connecticut State Library has an extensive collection of materials dealing with the Mayflower and Plymouth Colony, as well as published genealogies of Mayflower families.
Other notable voyages to early New England include those of the Lion, the Mary and John, and the Winthrop Fleet:
Olney, Sandra Sutphin. Passengers on the "Lion" From England to Boston, 1632. Bowie, MD: Heritage Books, Inc., 1992 [CSL call number F 15 .B7 O46 1992].
The Mary and John
Anderson, Robert Charles. "The Mary & John: Developing Objective Criteria for a Synthetic Passenger List," New England Historical and Genealogical Register CXLVII (April 1993): 148-161 [CSL call number HistRef F 1 .N56].
Hansen, Ann Natalie. The English Origins of the "Mary & John" Passengers. At the Sign of the Cock, 1985 [CSL call number F 74 .D5 H28 1985].
Kuhns, Maude Pinney. The "Mary and John": a Story of the Founding of Dorchester, Massachusetts, 1630. Tuttle Publishing Co., 1930 [CSL call number CS 61 .K8].
Spear, Burton W. Search for the Passengers of the Mary & John, 1630. B. W. Spear, 1985- [CSL call number F 3 .S64 1985].
The Winthrop Fleet
Banks, Charles Edward. The Winthrop Fleet of 1630: An Account of the Vessels, the Voyage, the Passengers, and Their English Homes from Original Authorities. Houghton Mifflin Co., 1930 [CSL call number F 67 .B21].
Genealogists interested in families who settled in New England during the early Colonial period should also consult the Great Migration Newsletter [CSL call number F 1 .G74] and the recently-published The Great Migration Begins by Robert Charles Anderson [CSL call number HistRef F 3 .A53 1995].
Original and Microfilmed Lists
Many original lists, most after 1820, are held by the National Archives. A detailed discussion of these appears in:
Lind, William, "Passenger Lists and Related Archives," Florida Genealogist, Winter 1979, pp. 45-60 [CSL call number F 310 .F48].
The staff of the National Archives will undertake a search of the original records for a fee but you must know the name of the ship, the date of arrival, and the port of arrival. To obtain a search request form, write to: General Reference Branch (NNRG), National Archives and Records Administration, 7th and Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20408 and request NATF Form 81, Order for Copies of Ship Passenger Arrival Records.
In addition, the National Archives has microfilmed many of its passenger lists. A publication that shows all the microfilms available for major ports is:
United States. National Archives and Records Service. Immigrant and Passenger Arrivals: a Select Catalog of National Archives Microfilm Publications. National Archives Trust Fund Board, US General Services Administration, 1983 [CSL call number HistRef Z 5305 .U5 U54 1983]. This work will show whether the arrivals for a port have been indexed and for which years.
Holdings of the National Archives - New England Region, 380 Trapelo Rd., Waltham, MA 02154 (617) 647-8100 include microfilm copies of the lists for the ports of Boston, MA (1820 -1930); New Bedford, MA (1902-1942), and miscellaneous ports on the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts and the Great Lakes (mostly ca. 1820-1873); this does not include the large ports such as New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. In addition it holds lists of Canadian border entries through the district of St. Albans, VT, 1895-1954 with an index for the period 1896-1952; an index to passenger arrivals for the port of Boston 1848-1891 and 1902-1920; and an index to arrivals through various small ports in Vermont, 1895-1924.
Holdings of the National Archives -- New York Region, 201 Varick St., New York, NY 10014 (212) 337-1300 include the Index to Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, 1820-1846; Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, 1820-1897; Soundex for Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at the Port of New York, 1944-1948; Alphabetical Index to Canadian Border Entries through Small Ports in Vermont, 1895-1924; Passenger and Crew Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, 1897-1957; and Subject Index to Correspondence and Case Files of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1903-1952.
The Connecticut State Library presently has some microfilmed passenger lists for Boston, New York, and miscellaneous ports ca. 1790-1850. These include:
Series M334, A Supplemental Index to Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Atlantic and Gulf Coast Ports (Excluding New York), 1820-1874. 188 rolls.
Series M575, Copies of Lists of Passengers Arriving at Miscellaneous Ports on the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts and at Ports on the Great Lakes, 1820-1873. 16 rolls. Includes scattered lists for Bridgeport, Connecticut, 1870; Fairfield, Connecticut, 1820-1; Hartford, Connecticut, 1837; New Haven, Connecticut, 1820-73; New London, Connecticut, 1820-47; and Saybrook, Connecticut, 1820.
Series M265, Index to Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Boston, Mass., 1848-1891. 282 rolls.
Series M277, Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Boston, Mass., 1820-1891. 115 rolls.
Series M261, Index to Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, N.Y., 1820-1846. 103 rolls.
The staff of the History and Genealogy Unit does not search microfilmed records. Please contact an independent genealogical researcher (see list) if you are unable to visit the library personally.
Many passenger lists microfilms can be borrowed through LDS Family History Centers and some public libraries.
Steamship arrival directories are another useful source of information for the genealogist attempting to trace ancestors who immigrated in the late 19th and 20th centuries. They normally provide the name of the ship, the ports of embarkation and debarkation, and the date of arrival. Some notable directories are:
Morton Allan Directory of European Passenger Steamship Arrivals for the Years 1890 to 1930 at the Port of New York....Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1979 [CSL call number HistRef HE 945 .A2 D5 1979].
Steuart, Bradley W., ed. Passenger Ships Arriving in New York Harbor, vol. 1. Bountiful, Utah: Precision Indexing, 1991 [CSL call number HistRef CS 68 .P36 1991]. This book consists of chronological and alphabetical listings of passenger vessels arriving at the Port of New York extracted from the National Archives' microfilm series M237, Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, N.Y., 1820-1897 and M1066, Registers of Vessels Arriving at the Port of New York from Foreign Ports, 1789-1919. Volume 1 covers the period 1820-1850.
Prepared by the History and Genealogy Unit, Connecticut State Library, 11-96.