How to Find Passenger Lists of Immigration Ships

Genealogy is akin to background checks because both involve a high level of research. Those who have family that immigrated into the United States during the 19th century have an early time of completing their ancestral research because there are so many different resources found online. These resources include complete passenger lists for famous and lesser known ships throughout history.

Resources on passenger lists and ship researching include:

When it comes to doing a search through the passenger lists, it’s helpful to know the last name and the exact spelling of that name. However researchers should also be careful about using different variations on the spelling and looking for similar names. Often times with immigrants, the crew on board the ship used a different spelling or a different name because they had trouble understanding the person’s name based on their accent.

Another thing to keep in mind relates to those passengers who passed through Ellis Island, where record takers sometimes changed their last name. People sometimes become upset because they can’t find that name on any passenger list, but there’s a reason for that. Passenger lists were created by the crewmembers of the ship, who used the information provided by the passenger. If the individual’s name was changed at Ellis Island, that name won’t be found on the passenger list, but rather their original last name.

There are a lot of different passenger lists found online. Many of these were transcribed from actual records of the ships, which is especially common in the better known ships. Other lists were created by people who know from oral and historical records that their family sailed on the ship. Those records that come from the historical records are more accurate.