The National Archives and Records Administration
(NARA) has added passenger lists of Russian, German and Italian immigrants to its free Access to Archival Databases
(AAD) service. (Irish passenger lists already were available here.)
Each collection consists mostly of immigrants who identified their nationality as Russian, German or Italian and arrived at the ports of New York, Boston, Baltimore, New Orleans or Philadelphia during the 19th century.
The database for each nationality also contains some names of immigrants from other places. For example, 90 percent of people in the German records said they were from Germany or a “German” area—the other 10 percent came from elsewhere.
The data are from passenger list indexes created by the Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies
. Keep in mind they’re not complete listings of all Russian, German, Italian or Irish immigrants.
For each collection, you'll see a Manifest Header Data File and a Passenger Data File. The search isn't the most intuitive we've ever seen, so get started with these tips:
1. From AAD, click Passenger Lists under Genealogy/Personal History. Then, click the Search button to the right of a Passenger Data File to look for an ancestor. (NARA calls the search terms you enter “values.”)
2. In your results, click View Record on the left to see first and last name, age, sex, occupation, last residence, destination and other information.
3. Use the ship manifest identification number to determine the port of arrival. Click View the FAQs and scroll to the chart showing ports and the range of manifest numbers assigned to each port’s records.
If you think you've found an ancestor, you can search the database for his or her passenger manifest identification number. That lets you see all passenger records from that ship—handy for finding traveling companions.
In the Manifest Header Data File, you can search for all ships with a particular manifest identification number, ship name, departure port or arrival date. For example, say you know your German ancestor arrived March 16, 1846. Click the Search button next to the German Manifest Header Data file and enter 03/16/1846
in the Arrival field. You'll get all the ships included in this database that arrived that day. Then you can go back to the Passenger Data File and search for the passengers on each ship.
I highly, highly recommend reading the FAQ document—each database has its own, linked at the top of the search screen. It’ll help you search the databases and understand your ancestor’s record.
Some places of origin or other data are difficult to interpret. You’ll want to see your ancestor’s orginal passenger list, which you can do on microfilm at major genealogy libraries, NARA facilities
and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Family History Library
. You can view records online through the subscription Web site Ancestry.com