Ellis Island Immigration Center
Castle Garden Database
Locating Ship Passenger Lists
A JewishGen InfoFile
A BRIEF HISTORY
Ellis Island was open only from 1892 to 1924. From 1855 to 1890,
immigrants arrived at Castle Garden. Immigrants prior to 1820 simply
landed at New York and walked off the ship without immigration
formalities. Millions of others arrived in Portland (Maine), Boston,
Fall River, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Charleston, New Orleans, Galveston,
Los Angeles, and Angel Island (San Francisco), plus numerous other ports,
as well as overland from Canada and Mexico.
Ellis Island, located in New York City, was the entry point for 12
million immigrants. This includes nearly three million Jews who came to
America from Eastern Europe between 1880 and the outbreak of World War 1.
It was declared part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument in 1965.
In 1990, after a six-year, $162 million renovation, it was reopened to
the public as a museum.
Some 40 percent of Americans are said to have a relative who came to
America through Ellis Island. When a transatlantic steamer arrived
at its dock in New York, the wealthy cabin passengers were free to
leave. Steerage passengers, carrying their household goods, were
required to board a tug or barge, sent to bring them to the receiving
station for immigration processing.
LIST OF IMMIGRANT RECEIVING STATIONS FOR THE PORT OF NEW YORK
o Before 1855: Immigrants were processed on board the ship they
o Castle Garden: Aug 1, 1855 - Apr 18, 1890. Over 8 million people
entered the United States through Castle Garden.
Located in Manhattan. Originally a fort built for
the War of 1812. Renamed Castle Clinton.
Later renamed Castle Garden (1824), it was a
restaurant, entertainment center, opera house and
theater. ("Garden" was a 19th century term for
arenas of all kinds.) From 1896 to 1941 it was the
New York City Aquarium.
o Barge Office: Apr 19, 1890 - Dec 31, 1891
o Ellis Island: Opened Jan 1, 1892. On June 15, 1897 a fire burned
the huge wooden building to the ground.
o Barge Office: June 15, 1897 - Dec 16, 1900. A temporary station in
o Ellis Island: The present stone and concrete structures opened Dec
17, 1900, with immigrants processed through 1924.
For a detailed history see:
ELLIS ISLAND TODAY
o _The Ellis Island Immigration Museum_, where millions of people visit
every year to connect with their immigrant heritage, opened in 1990.
o _The American Immigrant Wall of Honor_ at Ellis Island, with over
500,000 names, pays tribute to immigrants. For a fee you can have your
family name inscribed for posterity, regardless of when they came to
America or through which port they entered.
For each name registered on the Wall of Honor, you may provide
additional biographical information:- City or Province of Origin, Year
of entry to United States, Port of Entry to the United States, and Name
of Passenger Ship. The new information will be attached to the honoree's
record and be available via computer terminal on site at Ellis Island
and on the Internet. (Date of availability has not been determined yet.)
The information you provide will also be added to the database of family
immigration history that is being developed.
If you find your family name on a wall plaque... the Ellis Island
Foundation has been known to forward letters of inquiry to the
o _The American Family Immigration History Center_ (AFIHC),
opened April 17, 2001. Located in the restored Main Building,
it contains the data-base records of over 22 million passengers
that arrived through the Port of New York between the years 1892
and 1924. Visitors to Ellis Island can research passenger records
from ships that brought the immigrants, even see the original
manifests, with passengers' names, using the new Ellis Island
DataBase (EIDB details below).
RESOURCES FOR LOCATING SHIP'S PASSENGER LISTS
o The American Family Immigration History Center, Ellis Island DataBase (EIDB)
A database compiled from "Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at the
Port of New York". It does not cover all surviving Port of NY passenger lists.
Ports surrounding New York Harbor including New Jersey are considered
part of the Port of New York. Their records are included with the Port of
New York records at Ellis Island.
From your home computer you can search for your ancestor and then obtain a
copy of the official ship's manifest listing your family members.
To access the EIDB
http://www.ellisisland.org/ or http://stevemorse.org/
To learn search strategies, see the JewishGen InfoFile--
Ellis Island Database FAQ & Tips
o National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)
Official manifests or ship's passenger lists are available from 1820
through 1945 for most ports of the United States with customshouses.
The official lists, together with ships manifests and private
recordings are important sources of information for genealogists.
Lists may include names of ships, dates of arrival, cites and
countries of origin, marital status, relatives in America,
destinations and more.
Major indices exist for the ports of:
Boston 1848-91, 1902-20
New Orleans 1853-1952
New York City, 1820-46, 1897-1943
Minor ports, 1820-74 and 1890-1924
o LDS Family History Centers
Passenger List Microfilms
U.S. National Archives (NARA) microfilms of U.S. Passenger Arrival
Manifests, available via LDS Family History Centers
o View the "History of Castle Garden and Ellis Island" and
its included link to "Helpful Hints for Successful Searching"
o Castle Garden Online Database [New Aug. 2005]
From 1830 through 1892, new arrivals first stepped ashore at
Castle Garden in lower Manhattan.
http://www.CastleGarden.org offers free access to an extraordinary
database of information on 10 million immigrants from 1830 through
1892, the year Ellis Island opened. More than 73 million Americans
can trace their ancestry to immigrants who arrived in New York
City prior to that year.
o While we focus on immigration from Ellis Island, let's not forget
the thousands who immigrated through Canadian ports and then via
border crossings from Canada into the United States. The Canadian
government did not keep records of people leaving the country;
however, in 1895, the United States established border ports along
the International Boundary and began recording arrivals from Canada.
These Canadian Border lists, called "St. Albans, Vermont, District"
are in the custody of U.S. National Archives (NARA).
o Colletta, John P. They Came in Ships. 2d ed. Salt Lake City, UT:
Ancestry, Inc., 1993.
o Locating Ship Passenger Lists, by Myra Vanderpool Gormley, CG
o Tepper, Michael. American Passenger Arrival Records. Baltimore, MD:
Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1988.
For visitor information about the Statue Of Liberty National Monument
and Ellis Island, see The National Park Service site at:
To find out more about this gateway to the United States, visit the
Ellis Island Immigration Museum, or contact:
The Statue of Liberty - Ellis Island Foundation, Inc.
P.O. Box 5200
New York, New York 10163-5191
Rev. 17 Nov 2006
Information edited from published sources.
Provider: Bernard I. Kouchel
Copyright 2000-2005 JewishGen Inc.