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Passenger Search

Connect With
Your Heritage

During the largest human migration in modern history, Ellis Island processed more immigrants than all other North American ports combined. Today, tens of millions of Americans can trace at least one ancestor to Ellis.

Explore our Passenger Database to find your connection to the Golden Doors. Simply click HERE to log in to (or create) your account and start searching!

If you would like help with the search, try our Immigration Records Search service. Members at the VOYAGE level and above receive one session. You will be teamed with one of our research experts to help start you on your genealogical journey!

About the Database

AFIHC, poster 

The Passenger Search database allows you to look for family members who arrived at the Port of New York from 1820 to 1957. At the Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration and on the Foundation’s website you can explore your family heritage by searching nearly 65 million passenger records and ship manifests, examining information collected at debarkation points. Some passenger records are more complete than others, but many reveal name, age, date of arrival, ship name, nationality, birthplace, occupation, last residence overseas, and final destination. Some even have information about how many bags a passenger had, the amount of money they carried, and where they stayed on the ship.

We invite you to explore the Passenger Search database and start uncovering your family’s story. Get a first hand sense of the road that brought you here, and find your place in the larger story of American immigration.

Where to Begin

All you need to get going is a name, but your search will be a lot easier and more accurate if you start off with more information. If you have only a name to work with — and that name is John Smith, for instance — you’re going to be combing through thousands of records with no clue as to which John Smith is your great-grandfather. Even more-uncommon names could give you hundreds of results.

To prepare for your search and ensure best results, we recommend gathering as much information as you can. Did your relative have travel companions? What was their hometown? When did they arrive in the U.S.? Our database can account for different surname spellings, but if you believe your passenger made a dramatic change to the family name it will be beneficial to know their birth name.

Search Passengers

Making Edits

The Foundation is now collaborating with FamilySearch to improve the process of annotating and correcting indexed manifest records, which enables researchers to find arrival records more effectively.

If you have identified a record in need of editing (e.g., misspelled name), simply go to the FamilySearch website to submit the proposed changes. This article outlines the steps. 

This collaboration also includes annotations. If you would like to contribute an annotation (e.g., marriage date, place of residency), reference this article on the FamilySearch website for directions.

Helpful Hints

Research Tips

It’s good to prepare for your search by gathering details about your passenger. Helpful details include: the passenger’s first and last names; approximate year of arrival; “ethnicity” (which may include race, nationality, and/or religion); approximate age at arrival; ship of travel; port of departure; and whether the passenger traveled with other family members.

While not all of this information is required for a successful search, having some knowledge about a passenger’s arrival is very useful.

A Note on Names

Remember, ship manifest records were filled out at the ship’s Port of Departure, not at Ellis Island. The names listed on a manifest reflect the passenger’s “original” name and were not ‘changed’ at Ellis Island, despite this popular myth.

For example, an Italian immigrant you knew as “Joseph” will likely be listed as “Giuseppe”. A German called “John” will likely be “Johan” or “Johannes”. And a Jewish male called “Sam” could be “Schmuel” or their given Hebrew name. The same applies for men, women, and children.

More to Explore
Genealogy Primer

Discover Your Story

Want to take a tour through your family’s history? Start the process of determining your heritage by playing genealogist at home. Our guides and references can help you find the information you need to find answers and connect to your roots.

Famous Passengers

Luminaries and Leaders

The immigrants who came to America through Ellis Island made a profound impact on our culture and society. They made contributions to business, science, and culture – and today, a number of them are counted among our most celebrated citizens.

Oral Histories

The Voice of Ellis Island

Hear the story of American immigration from the people who lived it. Our comprehensive Oral History Project contains interviews from all corners of the island’s history helping modern visitors walk in the footsteps of their ancestors.

About the Foundation

We Honor the Story of American Immigration

The Foundation helps our community understand and appreciate the experiences of American immigrants. We strive to spark interest in our national heritage, and work to preserve the legacies of Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.