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Passenger Lists - Introduction
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Introduction to Passenger List Research


Anyone using a computer for genealogy research and interested in Passenger Lists should sign on to the following mailing lists. I found them extremely helpful. Just write

1. "subscribe" in the message area. (No quotes, of course.*G*) and send to: [email protected]

2. "Subscribe emigration-ships" in the message area. (No quotes, again) and send to:
[email protected]

Online: There are numerous Passenger Lists online (only a few mentioned here.) But these may offer a few good starting points.

Olive Tree Ship Lists

There is a searchable database, called "Passengers Arriving from Ireland by Surname." It is not a huge database; some fairly common Irish surnames come up with nothing.

Additionally, here are some handy URLS from Barbara Martinez on The Ships List:

Most of these are archived sites, but searchable.

Searchable Records of Transporation of Criminals to Australia from Ireland

Guide to Research: Immigration and ship Passengers Lists

**Not only Ireland, but many passenger lists Sheila Wenkens (Thanks Sheila) has started making links to passenger lists she has found on the net. If you have some that are not on Sheila's page, please send it to her at or [email protected].

What was it really like? Check out The Diary of an ocean passenger (Robert Whyte's Diary of a coffin ship)  and the next five pages, which start here.



1. There are many different issues with dealing with Irish Immigrants. There are the Potato Famine immigrants, indentured servant immigrants, and mistaken counties of origin based on ship departures. Using some of the above information, we will describe a possible scenario of an immigrant from Ireland to Boston in the 1870's.

Our immigrant, we will call Patrick could travel either to Queenstown (Cobh), where the Cunard steamships to Boston and New York called to pick up passengers, or to Liverpool, where he could board a steamship belonging to any one of several steamship lines with services to New York and/or Boston. Because we know that Patrick came into Boston, we will first check the index to passenger lists of vessels arriving at Boston ("State Lists"), 1848-1891, National Archives Microfilm Publication M265, roll 222. Again, a copy of this film can be borrowed through AGLL, any LDS (Mormom) Family History Center (Family History Library, microfilm #0205877) or Interlibrary Loan.

AHA!! We have located Patrick in this index, but alas, these manifests are NOT Federal records, (State lists) and have not been microfilmed. But you now have the name of the vessel and the date of the manifest. You may now write to Boston, (or the particular state you are looking in)

Archives of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
220 Morrissey Blvd.
Dorchester, MA 02125

and receive a photocopy of the passenger manifest itself. Therefore, even though the film may not be available through the usual channels (AGLL, LDS Family History Centers, or Interlibrary Loan) all is not lost! The state to the rescue. (This information is thanks to Michael Palmer of emigration-ship mailing list).

- On a page called Books We Own there are several folks who offer to do look-ups from their books. - The PRONI site, Public Records of Northern Ireland, has some immigration information on it. It's a must!!.

3. CHAT:

Join the Ireland Chat on IRC, IIGS
(For a time conversion visit
Server :
port : 6667 or 7000
Channel: #Ireland-gen
For details on how to join if you are new .. Visit
Themed Chats on IRC and look toward the bottom of the page.


1. The Heraldic Artist book (paperback, about $12.00) includes selections from the Irish emmigration census of the 1832-33 era including believed destination. Includes 100 or so ships lists.

2. The Famine Immigrants; Ira A. Glazier and Michael Tepper, Lists of Irish Immigrants Arriving at the Port of New York, 1846-1851, (7 volumes: Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co, 1983-1986.

Filby's Passenger and Immigration Lists Index; often referred to as �Filby's". This Index of Ship's Passengers consists of three massive volumes plus an additional 12+ volumes of indexes of ship passenger lists. The initial three volumes (broken down by alpha sections) list a massive number of passengers from various ship's lists with various destinations. This index was taken from many different sources and compiled alphabetically by surname. Subsequent to the initial 3 volumes additional supplements have been issued about 1 per year for about 13 years. Each supplement lists many more names alphabetically and the source of the information. The year of supplement has nothing to do with the date of passage. Many (maybe most) larger city main libraries have a complete set of Filby's. And it can often be obtained by inter-library loan

Step 1. Look up the surname(s) in which you are interested. Look the name(s) up in the initial volume(s) and every subsequent volume as there may be many persons with similar same data. Each surname will provide Surname, given name, destination, year - followed by a number and a page number. Carefully note all of this data and the volume number on a sheet of paper.

Step 2. In the front of each volume there will be a bibliography listing (by number). Write the source document name and data on your sheet. NOTE: You must look up the document in the front of the specific volume in which you found the person's name.

Step 3. Obtain a copy of that source document (if necessary by inter-library loan). Not too many libraries are likely to have many of these source documents or books.

Step 4. Having obtained the source book or document (do not rely on the page number listed in Filby's, look up in the source document index the name(s) of interest and go to that page. The individual page will list the following data: SURNAME, Given Name, Age, Year of passage, Townland (County, Township, etc.), Destination (of ship), occupation and religion, or some portion of that data..

The name(s) are no better than provided by the passenger and may contain errors as the purser guessed at some spellings (many people of that day did not even know how to spell their own name). Children may or may not be listed as was the practice of the shipping line. The destination was usually that of the initial destination of the ship and not necessarily the destination of the passenger.

It's great if you find your ancestor in "Filby's", but be aware that, as big as it is, Filby's only has about 15% of the immigrants to the US. If I understand the foreword correctly, Filby's is an index to PUBLISHED passenger lists (ie, those in print), and is NOT an index to the acual passenger lists, which for many ports in the USA are available on microfilm from the NARA or Salt Lake.



To find your surname codes, go to the SOUNDEX MACHINE at      NARA There is a soundex index to passenger lists of vessels arriving at various ports in different time periods that has been microfilmed by the National Archives and recorded by various Publication Numbers and Roll numbers. For example, the National Archives Microfilm Publication T520, roll 35, is the soundex index to passenger lists of vessels arriving at Baltimore, from 1897-1952. These microfilms can be borrowed through:
  1. AGLL,
  2. any LDS (Mormon) Family History Center
  3. Interlibrary Loan.

The soundex index gives for each passenger his/her age and sex (in the form 24f = 24 years old, female), the date of arrival, the name of the vessel on which the passenger arrived, the volume into which is found the passenger manifest for this vessel and voyage, and the page and line number of the manifest on which the passenger's name appears.

Now, while the soundex index for those years of Baltimore arrivals is all on one roll, the actual passenger manifests of vessels consists of 150 rolls. Once you have determined from the soundex index the date and vessel on which your ancestor arrived, and the bound volume that contains the passenger manifest for the voyage, you will need to return to your computer. To determine the microfilm roll that contains the bound volume, you need to go to the National Archives and Records Administration website at>

where the the location where your ancestor arrived (such as blt for Baltimore or bos for Boston). Here you will find the publication #, dates and Roll #'s that contain the bound volume you are seeking. Format is as follows:

      National Archives Microfilm Publication _______

(ex.) Vol Dates.................Roll#......(LDS Family History Library Microfilm # )

.....201....03 May -28 May....Roll #22...(LDS microfilm #0640772)
.....202....24 May - 09 Jun...Roll #23...(LDS microfilm #0640773)
(these are examples only, not real references)
Note: Dates may overlap and in some cases, the National Archives recorded in reverse order.

Once again, these rolls may be borrowed from the above three sources. Also important to remember that NOT ALL LISTS HAVE BEEN MICROFILMED!!! .

More Websites - Some Early!

Passenger Records
(list of library microfilm holdings pertaining to "Information on Records of Passenger Arrivals at the Port of New Orleans" available at New Orleans public library or which can be ordered from the American Genealogical Lending Library).

Irish Passenger Lists (Irish Passenger Lists) Australia Passenger Lists
(description of database services offered and sample passenger list of emigrants leaving the UK and Ireland bound for Australia in 1910, some potentially disembarking before arriving in Australia).

Passenger List
(Handy index to alphabetic breakdown of names contained on U.S. passenger list immigration microfilm rolls from the 1800's, arranged by port.)

Ships Passenger Lists
(passenger lists for vessels arriving in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Boston.

Emigration to U.S.A.
(Sources available at the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland)

(microfilm indexes for the National Archives of Canada for passengers arriving in Quebec 1865-69, with further links to information for periods after 1869)

The Island Register Ships Page
(passenger lists of ships sailing from Scotland and the UK to Nova Scotia)

Passenger List: Angel Gabriel 1635
(passenger list for the Angel Gabriel ship).

Fortune 1621 Passenger List
(passenger list for The Fortune, 1621)

Ship's Passenger Lists and Indexes
(information and links helpful for obtaining Canadian passenger immigration lists)

Submitted by a Fian 3 fennid

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