3 Replies Latest reply on Jan 15, 2016 12:03 PM by Heather Jager

    How do I search Immigration records?


      My great-grandparents came to America in the mid 1800s.

        • Re: How do I search Immigration records?
          Rebecca Collier Ranger

          Is this the information you are planning to come to the National Archives to see? If so, have you check the Immigration Records page on NARA's web site at https://www.archives.gov/research/immigration/index.html? Depending on when and where they arrived may determine which part of the National Archives you would visit.

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          • Re: How do I search Immigration records?

            Many of NARA's immigration / passenger list records have been digitized by our partners.  You can see a list of all the digitized records that are available on our partner's websites here:  http://www.archives.gov/digitization/digitized-by-partners.html.


            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. 

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            • Re: How do I search Immigration records?

              Immigration Records at the National Archives fall under record groups (RG) 36, Records of the U.S. Customs Service and RG 85, Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service. If you happen to be at the National Archives in Washington D.C. (Archives I), we have several microfilm publications of passenger lists spanning from 1820-1959, many of which have been digitized and are on ancestry.com. If you are at one of our facilities you can access Ancestry, Castle Garden, and The Ellis Island websites for free. Steven Morse is also a treasure trove of immigration resources. Not near a National Archive location? Contact your local library and inquire as to whether they have genealogy resources. If you have no luck at the local level, some university libraries offer access to visitors and will have online databases that you can use.


              To help navigate the passenger lists you may need to know the date and the port of arrival. Looking at other records, like census and naturalization, can help narrow your search. Most of these records are accessible on Ancestry or on microfilm. Census records can also give you useful information like your family member's birthplace and when they were born.


              Indexes for New York ports between 1847-1896 can be found on Ancestry in their New York Passenger Lists and in the AAD's 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, as well as Castle Garden's database.


              If you are looking for passenger lists that predate 1820, Archives I has microfilm publications M2009, Works Projects Administration Transcript of Passenger List of Vessels Arriving at New Orleans, Louisiana, 1813-1819, and M425, Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1800-1882. For more records previous to 1820 you can look in ALIC, at the Library of Congress, or other libraries with genealogy sections.


              We also have records of Canadian and Mexican Border Crossings, which is part of RG 85. For more information on these records refer to

              Mexican Border Crossing Records   ORhttp://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/2000/fall/us-canada-immigration-records-1.html

              Prologue: Selected Articles: By Way of Canada


              Recommended Book Sources:


              Guide to Genealogical Research at the National Archives, 3rd edition


              Bentley, E. (2009). County Courthouse Book: A Concise Guide to County Courthouses and Their Records (3rd ed.). Baltimore, Md.: Genealogical Pub.


              Everton, G. (2006). The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America. (11th ed.). Draper, Utah: Everton.


              Eicholz, Alice. (2004) Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources. 3rd ed (formerly Ancestry's Red Book)

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