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Dear Ms. Casey,
Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!
Until January 1, 1820, the U.S. Federal Government did not require captains or masters of vessels to present a passenger list to U.S. officials. Thus, as a general rule, NARA does not have passenger lists of vessels arriving before January 1, 1820. There is one exception for the port of Philadelphia that includes the time period you seek. .
We searched the National Archives Catalog and located the Index to Vessels Entering the Port of Philadelphia, 1800-1880 and the Inward Foreign Manifests for the Port of Philadelphia, 8/10/1789 - 3/23/1931 in the Records of the U.S. Customs Service (Record Group 36). These records have been reproduced as National Archives Microfilm Publication Nos. M360 and part of M425 respectively. For access to the microfilm, please search NARA’s Microfilm Catalog.
In addition, M360 and M425 are available in digital form and can be viewed online via Ancestry. There may be a fee for using this service. Instead, you may view these records online at one NARA's facilities for free via a NARA PC. For the nearest NARA location, please consult our web page at https://www.archives.gov/locations/.
To locate other passenger lists from 1538-1819, consult these books (among many others) that are available in many libraries with genealogical collections:
- Filby, P. William, ed. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index: A Guide to Published Arrival Records of ... 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-__. This series is a finding aid to published passenger lists. Be sure to read the "front material" to understand how to use the information you find.
- Filby, P. William, ed. Passenger and Immigration Lists Bibliography, 1538-1900. 2d ed. Detroit, MI: Gale Research Co., 1988.
- Lancour, Harold, comp. A Bibliography of Ship Passenger Lists, 1538-1825; Being a Guide to Published Lists of Early Immigrants to North America. 3d ed. New York: New York Public Library, 1978.
- Wood, Virginia Steele. Immigrant Arrivals: A Guide to Published Sources. Revised. (Washington, DC: Library of Congress, Local History & Genealogy Reading Room, n.d.).
- Carl Boyer and Michael Tepper, each using a different format, have undertaken to publish the names in Lancour's lists. 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.....
- Boyer, Carl. Ship Passenger Lists, National and New England (1600-1825). Newhall, CA: C. Boyer, 1977. Covers Lancour entries 1-71.
- Boyer, Carl. Ship Passenger Lists, New York and New Jersey (1600-1825). Newhall, CA: C. Boyer, 1978. Covers Lancour entries 72-115.
- Boyer, Carl. Ship Passenger Lists, Pennsylvania and Delaware (1641-1825). Newhall, CA: C. Boyer, 1980. Covers Lancour entries 116-197.
- Boyer, Carl. Ship Passenger Lists, the South (1538-1825). Newhall, CA: C. Boyer, 1979. Covers Lancour entries 198E-243.
- Tepper, Michael. New World Immigrants: a Consolidation of Ship Passenger Lists and Associated Data from Periodical Literature. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1979.
- Tepper, Michael. Passengers to America: A Consolidation of Ship Passenger Lists From the New England Historical and Genealogical Register. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1977.
- Tepper, Michael. Emigrants to Pennsylvania, 1641-1819: a Consolidation of Ship Passenger Lists from the Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1978
- Tepper, Michael. 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
We hope this is helpful. Best of luck with your research!
[Information mostly provided by Elizabeth Burnes, Subject Matter Expert]