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Immigrant & Passenger Arrivals - 1991

A Select Catalog of National Archives Microfilm Publication, Second Edition

Front Cover, Immigrant & Passenger Arrivals: A Select Catalog of National Archives Microfilm Publication, Second Edition, 1991.

Front Cover, Immigrant & Passenger Arrivals: A Select Catalog of National Archives Microfilm Publication, Second Edition, 1991. GGA Image ID # 1d920ee9d8

National Archives Trust Fund Board, National Archives and Records Administration, Immigrant & Passenger Arrivals: A Select Catalog of National Archives Microfilm Publication, Second Edition, © 1991, National Archives Trust Fund Board, Washington, D.C., Soft Bound, 171 Pages, 0-911333-05-3, 016-929'373.

This edition added five new points of entry -- Detroit, Glaveston, San Francisco, Seattle and St. Albans (VT). They also added new indexes for Publication by port, title and publications including in the holdings of each Regional National Archives branch.


This catalog lists National Archives microfilm publications of records relating to the arrival of passengers, crew members, and vessels in U.S. ports. Most of the records before 1891 are from the Records of the U.S. Customs Service, Record Group 36. Later records are part of the Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), Record Group 85. The publications are arranged by record group and thereunder alphabetically by the name of the port.

The second edition features five new ports of entry: Detroit, Michigan; Galveston, Texas; the St. Albans, Vermont, District, encompassing territory along the Canadian border from Maine to Washington; San Francisco, California; and Seattle, Washington. The catalog now includes complete roll listings for every microfilm publication, providing the researcher with a more thorough understanding of the records each publication contains. In addition, there are three new indexes at the back of the catalog: publications are arranged by port, by title, and by their inclusion in the microfilm holdings of each regional archives.

Records of the United States Customs Service, Record Group 36

Early records relating to immigration originated in regional customhouses. An act of March 2, 1819 (3 Stat. 489) required the captain or master of a vessel arriving at a port in the United States or any of its territories from a foreign country to submit a list of passengers to the collector of customs. The act also required that the collector submit a quarterly report or abstract, consisting of copies of passenger lists, to the Secretary of State, who was required to submit such information at each session of Congress. After 1874, collectors forwarded only statistical reports to the Treasury Department. The lists themselves were retained by the Collector of Customs. Customs records were maintained primarily for statistical purposes.

Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, Record Group 85

In 1882, Congress passed the first Federal law regulating immigration; between 1882 and 1891 the Secretary of the Treasury had general supervision over immigration. The Office of Superintendent of Immigration of the Department of the Treasury was established under an act of March 3, 1891, and was designated a bureau in 1895 with responsibility for administering the alien contract-labor laws. In 1900, administration of the Chinese-exclusion laws was added. In 1903, the Bureau became part of the Department of Commerce and Labor. Functions relating to naturalization were assigned to the Bureau in 1906, and its name was changed to the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization. It was transferred in 1940 to the Department of Justice.

The records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service listed in this catalog were transferred to the National Archives on microfilm. The original records were destroyed by the INS. In some instances, there are indexes for which the National Archives has no list. Some of the records were microfilmed as they appeared in volumes and the date spans may overlap. Errors in arrangement or omission cannot be corrected. Not all passenger lists are indexed. Many of the indexes are difficult to read. This catalog describes contents of individual rolls of microfilm.

The Records

In this catalog, passenger arrival records are preceded by their indexes. The date spans for the indexes and the records do not always exactly correspond.

Card Indexes

The quantity of information in each of the indexes varies. They may be simple alphabetical listings or arranged in the Soundex coding system. The indexes may contain the name, age, occupation, nationality, and last permanent residence of the passenger; the port of entry; the name of the vessel; and the date of arrival. The Soundex index cards may contain only the passenger's name, age, and sex, and the volume number, page, and line where the name may be found.

Book Indexes

These records consist of alphabetical listings of passengers provided to the Immigration and Naturalization Service by the shipping lines. The lists are usually arranged chronologically by date of arrival. The lists include the passenger's name, age and destination.

Passenger and Crew Lists

Customs Passenger Lists and Abstracts

Customs passenger lists contain each passenger's name, age, sex, occupation, nationality, and the name of the country in which each intended to reside. Entries are arranged by date of arrival and sometimes by the passenger or crew member's occupation and the port from which he or she sailed. Lists may also include notations as to the number and causes of deaths on board. The abstracts, which are consolidated lists of all the passengers who arrived at a port during the quarter, generally contain the same information as customs passenger lists.

Immigration and Naturalization Service Passenger Lists

Immigration and Naturalization Service passenger lists include the names of U.S. citizens returning from abroad, foreign visitors, and immigrants. The lists usually also contain names of vessels and shipmasters, ports of arrival and embarkation, dates of arrival, and the following information about each passenger: full name; age; sex; marital status; occupation; last residence; port of arrival and final destination in the United States; if the passenger had been in the United States before, when, and where; and if the passenger were going to join a relative, the relative's name and address, and relationship. Beginning in 1903, race was included; in 1906, personal description, and birthplace; in 1907, the name and address of the alien's nearest relative in country from which he or she came.

Crew Lists

Crew lists may include the names of both American and alien seamen. Information about each crew member may include his length of service at sea, position in the ship's company, when and where the seaman joined the vessel's crew, whether he was to be discharged at the port of arrival, literacy, age, race, nationality, height, and weight.

Obtaining Single Copies of Passenger Lists

For a researcher who doesn't wish to buy an entire roll of film to look for a single name, the National Archives will provide, for a fee, copies of single pages of passenger lists. If the list is indexed, the Reference Services Branch will consult the index to find the correct page of the passenger list to copy. The minimum information required for a search of the index is the full name of the person being researched, the port of arrival, and the approximate date of arrival. Additional information such as age of passenger and names of accompanying passengers can be useful. More specific information, however, is needed to search unindexed lists. In addition to the facts listed above, it is necessary to provide either the exact date of arrival or the name of the ship on which the person arrived.

Requests for these copies must be made on NATF Form 81, "Order for Copies of Passenger Arrival Records." The fee for this service is $10, payable only when the records requested are found. If it is not possible to find records, no payment is required. The order form can be obtained from the Reference Service Branch (NNRS), National Archives, Washington, DC 20408.

This catalog was compiled by Constance Potter with assistance from Anne DeLong.

Immigrant & Passenger Arrivals: A Select Catalog of National Archives Microfilm Publications

8 1/2" x 11", 192 pp.

National Archives and Records Administration, 1991

#200012 Softcover $3.50

ISBN 0-911333-05-3



The National Archives Microfilm Publication Program

Catalogs of Microfilm Publications

Microfilm Pricing Policy

Microfilm Specifications


Records of the U.S. Customs Service, 1820-ca. 1891

  • Atlantic, Gulf, and Great Lakes Ports
  • Baltimore, Maryland
  • Boston, Massachusetts
  • New Orleans, Louisiana
  • New York, New York
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1891-1957

  • Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina
  • Baltimore, Maryland
  • Boston, Massachusetts
  • Detroit, Michigan
  • Galveston, Texas
  • Gloucester, Massachusetts
  • Gulfport and Pascagoula, Mississippi
  • Key West, Florida
  • New Bedford, Massachusetts
  • New Orleans, Louisiana
  • New York, New York
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Portland, Maine
  • Providence, Rhode Island
  • St. Albans, Vermont, District
  • San Francisco, California
  • Savannah, Georgia
  • Seattle, Washington, and Other Washington Ports


Guide to the Soundex System

Index to Publication Numbers

Index to Publications by Port

Index to Publication Numbers by Port

Index to Microfilm Holdings in the Regional Archives

Instructions for Ordering Microfilm Publications

Library of Congress Catalog Listing

  • LC Control Number: 83013403
  • Type of Material: Book (Print, Microform, Electronic, etc.)
  • Corporate Name: United States. National Archives and Records Service.
  • Main Title: Immigrant and passenger arrivals : a select catalog of National Archives microfilm publications.
  • Published/Created: Washington, D.C. : National Archives Trust Fund Board, U.S. General Services Administration, 1983.
  • Related Titles: Immigrant & Passenger arrivals.
  • Description: xi, 46 p.; 28 cm. ISBN: 0911333053 (pbk.)
  • Notes: Cover title: Immigrants & passenger arrivals. Includes index.
  • Subjects: United States. National Archives and Records Service--Microform catalogs. Ships--Passenger lists--Bibliography--Microform catalogs. Documents on microfilm--Catalogs. United States--Genealogy--Bibliography--Microform catalogs.
  • LC Classification: Z5305.U5 U54 1983 CS47
  • Dewey Class No.: 016.929/373 19
  • Geog. Area Code: n-us---
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