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Emigration, Immigration & Naturalization Records

em·i·gra·tion - from the Latin emigrare; to move away from a place. The word Emigrate is to leave a place, especially your native country to live in another country.

im·mi·gra·tion - the act of entering another country for the purpose of settling there on a permanent basis.

nat·u·ral·i·za·tion - the act of foreign national earning, and/or being granted citizenship in an adopted country. Each country has their own rules and regulations. In the United States applicants must be at least 18 years old, having been legally admitted to the country and having resided in the U.S. for a minimum of 5 years. They must be of "good moral character" and must show that they are "attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States."  Unless exempt, they must be "able to read, write, speak, and understand words in ordinary usage in the English language . . . and must demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of the fundamentals of the history and of the principles and form of government of the United States." An applicant must take an oath to "support the Constitution and obey the laws of the U.S.; renounce any foreign allegiance and/or foreign title; and bear arms for the Armed Forces of the U.S. or perform services for the government of the U.S. when required."

A Brief History of Castle Garden and Ellis Island

New York and Ellis Island immediately come to mind when you think of "immigration." And no wonder, since it is estimated that some 20 million immigrants enter the United States through the doors of Ellis Island, and it is still within the living memory of many thousands of Americans. But New York was not the main port for immigrants to America before the middle of the 19th century; Baltimore, Boston, Galveston, Philadelphia, and New Orleans were other noteworthy ports. The Ellis Island immigration center did not open until 1892, and other facilities in New York were used for processing immigrants. Here is a timeline of New York immigration facilities.

Prior to 1820, immigration laws did not require record keeping of any kind, although there are still some extant ship manifests, although they are minimal. The law changed in 1820, and masters of all ships arriving in the United States were required to record all passengers’ names on the ship’s passenger lists. But no immigrant processing took place, and upon arrival, passengers were free to simply walk off the ship.

Beginning in 1855, the State of New York began processing immigrants at a facility in lower Manhattan known as Castle Garden. Under new legislation, the Federal Government assumed responsibility for immigration in 1890, but had no facility in New York. New York State, upset with the new law, refused to allow the use of their facilities, and a temporary immigration center was established at the Barge Office while facilities on Ellis Island were constructed (1890-91).

Ellis Island opened January 1, 1892, and until 1924, more than 12 million third class and steerage passengers were processed at Ellis Island, except for the three-year period of 1897 to 1900, when Ellis Island was closed due to fire damage, and processing returned to the Barge Office. Wealthy immigrants traveling first and second class were automatically granted entry into the United States. They had to undergo a 10-second "physical examination" and answer a 29 questions including their name, occupation, and the amount of money they carried.

With passage of the "quota laws," after 1924, passengers were processed by U.S. Embassy personnel overseas and there was no need for the massive infrastructure of Ellis Island. From 1924 until 1954, Ellis remained open for "special cases." However, in reality, it was mostly used for war detainees and refugees; Italians and Japanese were detained or interned, but the major group of detainees were German Americans, falsely accused of being Nazis during World War II. It formally closed November 1954,and is now administered by the National Parks Service.

Records from these periods are divided into three groups and are online as:

  • Pre-Castle Garden Database (1820-1850), available on Ancestry.com, consisting of a searchable name index. Images are no available on-line but may be obtained through the National Archives, microfilm records for series M237, rolls 1 to 94, or the holdings of the Family History Library.
  • The Castle Garden Database (1851 to 1891), is available from Ancestry.com Immigration, Passenger and Naturalization records $$ or free at castlegarden.org. The castlegarden.org website is missing many records and does not have manifest images online; Ancestry.com does.
  • The Ellis Island Database (1892 to 1924) is available from Ancestry.com Ancestry.com $$ or free at ellisisland.org.

The links below constitute some of the emigration and immigration resources, including many passenger lists we use in our research. We highly recommend Dr. John P. Colletta's book, for those just starting the search for an immigrant ancestor. Or, we will be happy to provide you a free estimate today! Also check our additional links at our International Immigration page.

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Search Ancestry's Immigration Records Immigration, Passenger and Naturalization records

Angel Island Immigration Station, California

Passenger Ships and Images Passenger Ships

Ship Passenger Lists from Ireland to America: Miscellaneous Ships Passenger Lists

Alaska Alien Arrivals, 1906-1949 Alaska Immigrants

Atlantic Ports, Gulf Coasts, and Great Lakes Passenger Lists, Roll 1: 1820-1871 Immigration, Passenger and Naturalization records

Atlantic Ports, Gulf Coasts, and Great Lakes Passenger Lists, Roll 2: 1820-1873 Immigration, Passenger and Naturalization records

Atlantic Ports, Gulf Coasts, and Great Lakes Passenger Lists, Roll 3: Galveston Texas 1846-1871 Immigration, Passenger and Naturalization records

Atlantic Ports, Gulf Coasts, and Great Lakes Passenger Lists, Roll 4: 1820-1870 Immigration, Passenger and Naturalization records

Atlantic Ports, Gulf Coasts, and Great Lakes Passenger Lists, Roll 5: 1820-1873 Immigration, Passenger and Naturalization records

Atlantic Ports, Gulf Coasts, and Great Lakes Passenger Lists, Roll 6: 1820-1863 Immigration, Passenger and Naturalization records

Atlantic Ports, Gulf Coasts, and Great Lakes Passenger Lists, Roll 7: 1820-1835 Immigration, Passenger and Naturalization records

Atlantic Ports, Gulf Coasts, and Great Lakes Passenger Lists, Roll 8: 1845-1849 Immigration, Passenger and Naturalization records

Miscellaneous Atlantic Ports Passenger Lists Immigration, Passenger and Naturalization records

Baltimore Passenger and Immigration Lists, 1820-1872 Immigration, Passenger and Naturalization records

Passenger Arrivals at the Port of Baltimore, 1820-1834 Immigration, Passenger and Naturalization records

Baltimore Passenger Lists, 1820-1948 Immigration, Passenger and Naturalization records

Boston Passenger Lists, 1820-1943 Immigration, Passenger and Naturalization records

Boston, 1821-1850 Passenger and Immigration Lists Immigration, Passenger and Naturalization records

Boston, Massachusetts Passenger Lists, 1884, with index and images

Ship Passenger Lists to the Carolinas: Miscellaneous Ships Immigration, Passenger and Naturalization records

Florida Passenger Lists, 1898-1951 Immigration, Passenger and Naturalization records

Galveston Passenger Lists, 1896-1948 Immigration, Passenger and Naturalization recordsGalveston passenger lists with images

Hawaii Passenger Lists, 1942-1948 Immigration, Passenger and Naturalization records

Hawaii Chinese Exclusion Index Immigration, Passenger and Naturalization records

Indentured Immigrants

Laramie County, Wyoming Naturalization Records, 1867-1920 Immigration, Passenger and Naturalization records

The immigration and early history of the people of Zeeland, Ottawa County, Michigan, in 1847 Immigration, Passenger and Naturalization records

Minnesota Naturalization Records Index, 1854-1957 Immigration, Passenger and Naturalization records

New Brunswick, Canada, Passenger Lists: 1834 Immigration, Passenger and Naturalization records

Ship Passenger Lists from Holland to New Netherland: Miscellaneous Ships Immigration, Passenger and Naturalization records

New Orleans Passenger Lists, 1820-1945 Immigration, Passenger and Naturalization records

The election and naturalization frauds in New York City, 1860-1870 Immigration, Passenger and Naturalization records

New York Emigrant Savings Bank, 1850-1883 Immigration, Passenger and Naturalization records

New York Petitions for Naturalization Immigration, Passenger and Naturalization records

New York Chinese Exclusion Index Immigration, Passenger and Naturalization records

New York, 1820-1850 Passenger and Immigration Lists Immigration, Passenger and Naturalization records

New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 Immigration, Passenger and Naturalization records

New York, 1820-1850 Passenger and Immigration Lists Immigration, Passenger and Naturalization records

Dutch Immigrants: New York Passenger Lists, 1881-1894 Duth Immigrant records

New York Ship Arrivals and Passenger Lists from the Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild

More Than Passenger Lists: The Other Records of Ellis Island Ellis Island

Oregon Passenger and Crew Lists, 1888-1957 Immigration, Passenger and Naturalization records

Ship Passenger Lists to New York: Miscellaneous Ships Immigration, Passenger and Naturalization records

Ship Passenger Lists to Nova Scotia, Canada: Miscellaneous Ships Immigration, Passenger and Naturalization records

Ship Passenger Lists to Pennsylvania: Miscellaneous Ships Immigration, Passenger and Naturalization records

Immigration of the Irish Quakers into Pennsylvania, 1682-1750 Immigration, Passenger and Naturalization records

Irish Quaker Immigration into Pennsylvania Immigration, Passenger and Naturalization records

Philadelphia German Immigration, 1700-75 Immigration, Passenger and Naturalization records

Passenger Arrivals at the Port of Philadelphia, 1800-1819 Immigration, Passenger and Naturalization records

Philadelphia, 1800-1850 Passenger and Immigration Lists Immigration, Passenger and Naturalization records

Philadelphia Passenger Lists, 1800-1945 Immigration, Passenger and Naturalization records

San Francisco Ship Passenger Lists Vol. I [1850-1864] Immigration, Passenger and Naturalization records

San Francisco Ship Passenger Lists Vol. II [1850-1851] Immigration, Passenger and Naturalization records

San Francisco Ship Passenger Lists. Vol. III: November 7, 1851 to June 17, 1852 Immigration, Passenger and Naturalization records

San Francisco Chinese Exclusion List Immigration, Passenger and Naturalization records

Titanic Survivors, Carpathia Passenger List, 1912 Immigration, Passenger and Naturalization records

Passenger Arrivals in the U.S., 1819-20 Immigration, Passenger and Naturalization records

Naturalization Records

United States Citizenship and Immigration Service formerly the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS)

Guide to Naturalization Records of the United States Immigration, Passenger and Naturalization records

Shasta county, California, Naturalization Records: 1852 - 1932 Immigration, Passenger and Naturalization records

Iosco County, Michigan Naturalization Index, 1885-1910 Immigration, Passenger and Naturalization records

New York Petitions for Naturalization Immigration, Passenger and Naturalization records

Index to Declaration of Intent for Naturalization: New York County, 1907-1924 Immigration, Passenger and Naturalization records

New York County Supreme Court Naturalization Petition Index, 1907-24 Immigration, Passenger and Naturalization records

New York Southern District, World War II Military Naturalization Index, 1941-1946 Immigration, Passenger and Naturalization records

New York Southern District Court, Korean War Military Naturalization Index, 1950-1955 Immigration, Passenger and Naturalization records

Denizations, Naturalizations, and Oaths of Allegiance in Colonial New York Immigration, Passenger and Naturalization records

Denizations, Naturalizations, and Oaths of Allegiance in Colonial New York Immigration, Passenger and Naturalization records

Philadelphia, 1789-1880 Naturalization Records Immigration, Passenger and Naturalization records

Oaths of allegiance, Chester County, Pennsylvania, taken before the Justices of the Peace, 1777-1785 ... Immigration, Passenger and Naturalization records

Pennsylvania Foreign Oaths of Allegiance Immigration, Passenger and Naturalization records

Pennsylvania Foreign Oaths of Allegiance, Vol. 2 Immigration, Passenger and Naturalization records

Utah Naturalization Declarations of Intention, 1878-1895 Immigration, Passenger and Naturalization records

Box Elder County, Utah Certificates of Citizenship Record Books, 1868-1869 Immigration, Passenger and Naturalization records

Juab County, Utah Citizenship Certificate Stubs, 1908-1928 Immigration, Passenger and Naturalization records

Wasatch County, Utah Naturalization Record Books, 1896-1906 Immigration, Passenger and Naturalization records

Wasatch County, Utah Citizenship Certificate Stubs, 1907-1924 Immigration, Passenger and Naturalization records

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Last updated: 12 Jul 2010