Ship Manifests

How and where would a newspaper reporter in 1899 view Ship Manifests from ships arriving in Boston from Ireland?

  • Anne, I just spent an hour in my files to find a situation... which might not pertain to your request.... but it might.  A well known businessman in the midwest applied for naturalization.  His case was denied as the immigration service couldn't find his name on the ship he indicated he arrived in at Ellis Island.  He had the ship name, and date of arrival.  No certificate of arrival could be issued (so this was after 1906).  He demanded to see, or to have his lawyer see the actual ship manifest so he could see for himself.  His initial demand was met by immigration officials with the response that the manifest was not a public document, but the property of the U.S. government, and his request denied.  I could see that as there could be a fraud situation if too many people could access, at the time or shortly afterwards, this document.  The immigrant took the director of Ellis Island to court, and the day they were scheduled in court.... lo and behold, the immigration authorities found his mistranscribed name.  I couldn't find this on my files, or looking at the index for historical New York Times which I believe had the original article that might be hiding on my computer.  I don't think your 1899 newspaper reporter was going to easily see ship manifests..... but I'll pay attention to other answers to your query.

  • Thank you, Joel! This is very helpful. I'm working on a novel, and though it's fiction, I still need to have some facts straight. I wonder if the Massachusetts District Police, at that time, would have had access to the manifests when investigating a suspect.

Reply Children
  • Anne,

    First, I found the article.  "Sues to See Ship List".  New York Times, Oct. 25, 1927.  page 48.   "Suit to enjoin Immigration Commissioner Benjamin M Day from refusing to permit examination of a passenger list filed with port officials on Dec. , 1913, was begun yesterday..."

    Second, there was fraud at Ellis Island with ship manifests changed after the fact.  There were some *federal* investigations of the ship manifests that led to charges against Ellis Island clerks.  That's one reason why it was decided to film the manifests so that the records would be frozen in time.  I'm looking in my files, as that's one area of interest to me, about some specific cases.  So far, can't find, but one of them was an addition of a name to the manifest...first name "Bozo".... appropriately enough.  I'll continue looking.

  • Ahh... found my file.  If you want to see a forged ship manifest of Bozo Galantich.... where his line was typed in with a different typewriter as to the rest of the manifest.... SS Mount Clay, sailing from Hamburg August 25, 1921...List 29.  Some articles: Aliens Fixers Paid Million Washington Post April 10, 1935 page 1.  Alien Frauds Laid To An Ex-Official, New York Times june 26, 1935 p. 3.  22 are Indicted Here In Citizenship Fraud  New York Times May 8, 1936 page 18.  Jailed for Alien Frauds, New York Times Aug 8, 1935 page 3.  $1,000,000 Mulcted From Aliens Here, New York Times April 10, 1935 page 4.