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19th Century Names on Ships' List


Ship--ss_Great_BritainIf you have managed to get a rough idea of when you ancestors arrived in America, you just might be able to view the passenger list, handwritten by ship officials, with that ancestor listed. It can reveal some interesting information, especially the spelling of the ancestor’s name. True, there can still be errors in the spelling but seeing it in the handwritten form of when that ancestor came to America is fascinating.

Using the site with its collection of scanned passenger lists is a wonderful resource. A few of the key ports for arrivals especially in the 1800s were: Philadelphia, PA; Boston, Massachusetts; New Orleans, LA; and of course New York City. does have other ports of entry with images in their collection. Look carefully at the description, some are just transcribed list of names and a much greater chance of errors there. 

When doing a search, look at the varied spellings for a name and that many times only an initial was used for the given name. You may have to look at several to hit the right ancestor. Ship list new orleans 1851

Imagine viewing the name of an ancestor and or family on their arrival in America, with some of the databases with arrivals into the 20th century. Again, not just a name but also some information. The type of information varied during the years and the which arrival port.

The following are four of those major ports with links to the site.

1. Philadelphia, PA list from 1800 to 1882 on has nearly 59,000 records in original scanned images, plus transcripts.

2. The ship passengers are on images of Boston, Massachusetts Passenger Lists for 1820 through 1891. There is a nine-year gap between March 31, 1874 and April, 1883.

3. New Orleans, LA passenger lists cover 1820 to 1945 with nearly 220,000 images.

4. New York City Passenger lists for over 13 million immigrants arriving in New York City from 1820 through 1891 with nearly 429,000 images.

Ship-1857 Nathan Kershaw - NYYou can zoom in to read the passenger lists and also download it to your computer.

Photos: S.S. Great Britain from 1890s; Passenger List written in 1832 for Christen H. Kraft to Philadelphia, PA; 1851 passenger list arriving in New Orleans with James Johnson; and Nathan Kershaw to port of NY in 1857.

Related genealogy blogs:

Ships Carrying Immigrants

An Ancestor and a Ship


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