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passengers arriving to the united states

Navigating Passenger Lists: Arrivals to the United States

April 5, 12, 19, 26, 2023
Live Broadcasts Wednesdays at 6-7:30 p.m. ET
Hallie Kirchner
Rhonda R. McClure
Members Save 10%

Passenger lists are an invaluable resource in family history research—they can help you “jump across the pond” to find your ancestors’ origins, provide clues in determining familial relationships, and later passenger lists can even provide details about what your ancestors looked like. But passenger lists can also be difficult to navigate—early lists provide minimal information, which can make it difficult to identify your ancestor in the records. You may also see variations in names and spellings, listed birth years, and more. This four-week online seminar will discuss the historical context of passenger lists and how they changed over time, and you’ll learn strategies, sources, and tools that can help you navigate passenger lists and trace your ancestors’ arrival to the United States!

Class 1: Foundations of Passenger List Research

Presented by Hallie Kirchner

This first class will discuss the historical context surrounding passenger lists and migration, as well as the laws that shaped the way that passenger lists have been recorded. We’ll also discuss how to conduct research on individual ships, and how this can provide clues for tracing your ancestor’s migration.


Class 2: Early Passenger Lists

Presented by Rhonda R. McClure

If you’ve searched for passenger lists before, you may have noticed that many collections don’t have records before 1820, which is when the U.S. government began requiring passenger lists to be filed. But what if your ancestor migrated before then? This class will discuss the rare early passenger lists from the 17th, 18th, and early 19th centuries.


Class 3: 19th Century Passenger Lists: Ellis Island and Beyond

Presented by Hallie Kirchner

In 1820, the U.S. government began requiring all passenger lists to be filed with the customs office. For genealogists, this means that passenger lists from this time period are much more widely available for your research—though finding your ancestor in them is still no easy task! This class will discuss tips and strategies for locating and analyzing 19th century passenger lists to further your research.


Class 4: 20th Century Migration Records: Passenger Lists and More

Presented by Rhonda R. McClure

When we think of passenger lists, images of Ellis Island and waves of 19th century immigrants often enter our minds first. But for those ancestors who migrated in the 20th century, there is a wealth of records to explore, and passenger lists are just the tip of the iceberg. This class will discuss extended passenger lists, embarkation records, passport records, border crossings, visa records, registration cards, and flight lists.

Research and Library Services
Hallie Kirchner
New York
19th-Century United States
Areas of expertise: 19th-century America, Germany, New York, New York City, Norway, Italy, westward migration, immigration history, and descendancy research.
Education and Programming
Rhonda R. McClure
Immigration and Naturalization
Genealogical Software
Areas of expertise: Immigration and naturalization, late 19th and early 20th century urban research, missionaries.