Waving at the Statue of Liberty

Continuing the Series on Getting Started and Immigration to the USA.
Welsh immigrants arriving at Ellis Island, New York

Like Australia, the US has a history dating back the early 1800's of immigration, much of it is documented, particularly with passenger lists.  The first task is to understand the waves of immigration, so start with wikipedia's entry .  Don't forget to watch the little video on the right hand side (its wonderful).   

There are lots of resources if your family immigrated to the USA, here are some of the best:
  • National Archives - here you will find a good overview of where records are kept.  More
  • importantly, up to 1st January 1820, masters of ships were not legally obliged to present their ship's passenger lists to US officials, so US immigration records from this early period are scarce. However, two Pre-1820 Lists are available on microfilm at the National Archives in Washington.  Customs Passenger Lists date from 1820 and Immigration Passenger Lists date from 1883 are also held at the National Archives.
  • Olive tree - has many passenger lists online  Including Australian and Canada.
  • Family Search - this is a good place to start your searching, as they have passenger lists to more than Ellis Island.
  • Ancestry has passenger lists for the port of New York from 1820 to 1891.
  • Ellis Island records are found online at the statue of liberty site and through Family Search
  • Learn more at Cindi's List which has a great list of resources, links to research guides and broader information.


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