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Immigration & Naturalization

Research passenger lists, immigration records, and naturalization records online.


Immigration Records

Also known as "ship passenger arrival records," may provide genealogists with information such as:

  • nationality, place of birth
  • ship name and date of entry to the United States
  • age, height, eye and hair color
  • profession
  • place of last residence
  • name and address of relatives they are joining in the U.S.
  • amount of money they are carrying, etc.


Passenger Lists

Records, often called manifests, of passengers on board a ship. Includes ports of departure and arrival.

  • colonial era–1820: Lists are spare due to many manifests that were lost or destroyed.
  • 1820–80: Usually list name, age, and country of origin of passengers.
  • 1880–1957: Detailed information for many ports. Manifests include name, birthplace, final destination, and address of American relative for passengers.


Naturalization Records

The legal process by which immigrants become citizens. Records can be found at local courts and in the National Archive.

  • colonial era: Naturalization records are uncommon.
  • 1790–1906: Filed at local courts, which recorded the name, birth date, and port and date of entry. Women usually assumed their husband's naturalization.
  • 1906–22: The federal government standardized the naturalization process under the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization. Records include the date and place of birth, port and date of entry, name of ship, and names of spouse and children.
  • 1922: Congress passed a law ending automatic naturalization of women married to naturalized citizens.

Ports of Entry Records

Ethnic Heritage

Coming to America: Finding Your Immigrant Ancestors