Ancestry Releases the World’s Largest Online Collection of U.S. Historical Immigration Records

2immig. tripled in size_edited-1.jpgMore than 100 Million Names on All Readily Available U.S. Passenger Lists from 1820 – 1960; Includes the Complete Ellis Island Collection, as well as Records from Over 100 Other U.S. Ports of Arrival

PROVO, UTAH – November 9, 2006 –, the world’s largest online family history resource, today announced that it has added to its online service all readily available U.S. passenger lists from 1820 to 1960. An estimated 85 percent of Americans have an immigrant ancestor included in the passenger list collection which covers the height of American immigration, making the only source for the largest compilation of passenger list records available and fully searchable online. To commemorate the launch of the collection, is offering completely free access to its entire Immigration Collection through the end of November. The passenger list collection, which took more than three years to digitize and transcribe, celebrates the courage, hopes, fears and memories of more than 100 million passengers.

“We are a nation of immigrants, and the vast majority of Americans have at least one ancestor that is included in this extraordinary list of men, women, and children that came to this country to start new lives,” said Tim Sullivan, CEO,, Inc., parent company of “My own ancestors passed through these ports from Ireland and Germany, and it is a thrilling experience to see their names transcribed on paper the day they entered this country. The Ellis Island records are the centerpiece of this collection, but the Immigration Collection is so amazing because it is so complete. Browsing and searching these passenger lists is a perfect way for someone to start researching their family history.”

Until the completion of this project, U.S. passenger list records could only be found on microfilm or in limited selections online at various dispersed locations such as libraries and museums across the nation. For the first time, people can look to a single centralized source online to find all readily available passenger list records. More than 100 American ports of arrival are represented in the compilation including the entire collection of passenger list records (1892-1957) from Ellis Island, a historic landmark and icon of immigration. The collection also accounts for popular ports in Boston, Baltimore, New Orleans and the Angel Island receiving station in San Francisco.

Fast Facts from the Passenger List Collection

The passenger list collection retells the remarkable stories of sacrifice, survival and success of America’s immigrant ancestors and also accounts for other travelers such as crew members, vacationers, business people and more. In total,’s passenger list records capture the legacy and unique stories of more than 100 million passengers.

  • More than 41 million immigrants arrived in America during this great immigration era. 
  • Passenger lists provide invaluable details in the original handwriting such as names, occupation, accompanying travelers, origin/port of departure, date and place of arrival, intended destination, place of birth and assets. 
  • The compilation features printable images of 7 million original passenger list documents and roughly 1,000 images of the actual ships.
  • experts, including more than 1,500 paleographers (handwriting specialists), spent more than 1.8 million hours and typed 4.5 billion keystrokes to create the fully searchable passenger list index.

“Scarcely any phase of family history is as fascinating as tracking an immigrant’s voyage to this country, and perhaps no other collection of records better illustrates the lure of America,” said Loretto Dennis Szucs, Executive Editor, Ancestry Magazine and author of They Became Americans and Ellis Island: Tracing Your Family History Through America’s Gateway. “Each one of us has been touched in some way by the experiences, choices, attitudes and the genetic makeup of our immigrant ancestors. Now, has made it possible for us to sit behind a computer screen, reach back in time and get to know these people who contributed so much of the lifestyle that we enjoy today.”

Celebrity Sightings

Celebrity sightings found in the passenger list collection include historical figures such as Bob Hope, Charlie Chaplin, Sigmund Freud, Cary Grant, the Von Trapp Family and Annie Moore, Ellis Island’s first immigrant. The collection also records the arrival of immigrant ancestors of Angelina Jolie, Madonna and Donald Trump. Other notable names include – 

  • Magician Harry Houdini and former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt sailed on the same ship from Southampton, England, to New York in 1914 and are both listed on the same passenger list page.
  • Martha Stewart perhaps inherited her home decor skills from her immigrant grandfather Frank Kostyra who, according to the S. S. Iceland manifest, was a “basket maker.” 
  • Albert Einstein makes an appearance in a 1921 passenger list where his hair is subtly described as “grayish.” has invested more than $100 million to acquire, digitize, and make searchable online invaluable historical records such as the exclusive U.S. census collection (1790-1930), birth, marriage and death records, photographs, military records and more. The passenger list collection is the latest addition to’s 23,000 databases of more than 5 billion names, complementing and combining with other historical documents to enrich the family history experience. recently revamped its website, introducing enhanced features and functionalities that enable users to experience more efficient searching, better results and a more collaborative, social-networking environment. These advanced search, save and share tools have also encouraged an explosion of user-uploaded content, making exclusive family documents such as shoebox memories, photos, and personal histories available to the community.


With more than 5 billion names and 23,000 searchable databases, is the No. 1 online source for family history information. Since its launch almost a decade ago, has been the premier resource for family history, simplifying genealogical research for millions of people by providing them with many easy-to-use tools and resources to build their own unique family trees. The MyFamily network of family history sites, of which Ancestry is the largest, receive more than 9 million unique visitors worldwide and 450 million page views each month. (© comScore Media Metrix, September 2006.)

Media Contact

Julia Burgon
Coltrin & Associates for
212-221-1616 ext. 124

Tola St. Matthew-Daniel
Coltrin & Associates for
212-221-1616 ext. 101


19 thoughts on “Ancestry Releases the World’s Largest Online Collection of U.S. Historical Immigration Records

  1. Thanks Ancestry, but what do you mean FREE until November 30th? Free to guests, or non-paying members, deluxe subscribers? Please make this clear.

  2. I was given this program for Christmas a few years ago and it has really interesting stuff in it but as I am from Canada I was wondering if you could advise me what I should do to find my ancestors in Canada.

  3. As a long time subscriber to, I was glad to see the additions to the Immigrants database. I have finally been able to determine when my great-grandfather came to the USA and from where. What a terrific find! Keep up the good work.

  4. Not all immigrants arrived in ships. Thousands walked across a border into a bordertown, filled out alien documents, and obtained legal right to citizenship or to reside in the US.

    I cannot find data online on immigrants that arrived by land by way of bordertowns such as Laredo, Texas. I am searching for immigrants that entered the US legally in the years between 1900 and 1930. What website do you recommend for this data online?

  5. Several years ago, I found the ship’s manifest which included the listing of my Great Grandfather, JOHN FLETT. He arrived, from Glasgow, Scotland via Moville, Ireland, in New York Harbor on the 3rd of August 1868, on the SS Caledonia. Why is it now impossible to find him on this enlarged collection of Immigration records, no matter how little or how much info I include in the Search Box??? I constantly get a return of “No Matches”!!! ALSO…for years, I’ve looked, unsuccessfully, on ships’ passenger lists for my Great Grandfather’s brother, ALEXANDER FLETT B: 1 Aug 1838 (tombstone reading), who, according to the 1900 Federal Census Records, arrived in the United States in 1858, origin of Departure…Scotland. ‘Oral history’ states (unverified) that he first went to Minnesota to live and work, before he settled and raised a large family in Dent County, Missouri. He married locally (1866) and was living in Dent County at the time of my Great Grandfather’s arrival, in 1868, to join him. Alexander served in the Civil War, was elected as Justice of the County Court of Dent County in November 1876, and was naturalized as an American citizen on 12th March 1902. I have much information on this Great, Great Uncle of mine, but I CAN NOT find the ship/passenger list on which he arrived in the US!!! His full name is Alexander Atkin FLETT, and he was born in the Orkney Islands, Scotland. Can you PLEASE help?!! …Again, the following is ‘oral history’ from one of his sons who made this statement many years ago: “Alexander A. and his brother, Jim (James Flett B:July 1828), together with their Uncle Andrew (Andrew Flett B:Dec 1803), traveled to New York. They separated in New York, and Jim went to Wagon Train, Canada, while A.A. took a train to Minnesota. There, he was a laborer, then a manager, and owned a livery stable.” Your help with finding Alexander’s ship would be greatly appreciated, as would the reason WHY I can no longer find the details of my Great Grandfather’s immigration. Thank you, Judy Johnson

  6. I was hoping that this enhanced immigration information would provide me with information on the arrival of my grandfather as a 13-year old in 1883-4. Though I find 2 other Penschows listed who may or may not have a connection to our family, I find nothing for him, Emil R. Penschow. Swim he did not, so if there is a suggestion on what I may be doing incorrectly, I’d appreciate it.

  7. Last year, using the Ellis Island web site, I was able to locate my grandmother and her brothers and sisters (arriving in different years)ship information. I checked your new data and found that one of the brothers is not listed. So would seem there are some info that got missed. Same is true of my English grandmother. The Month of Nov 1883 for the ship British Princess, is not viewable, though that file is available on Microfilm at the NARA. Other websites indicate that the ship did make a trip in Nov 1883, but the manifest is not viewable. The new addition of this emigration information is great and will be even more so, when it’s not missing sections. Thanks

  8. I have to agree with Lorenzo Cuesta #5 “Not all immigrants arrived in ships”. I too am looking for family that crossed the border and came to the US. This information I feel would greatly add to your website.

  9. I echo the comments of Lorenzo Cuesta #5 and Amelia Yelland #9. Where can I find a data about those who entered at Laredo, Texas in 1912?

  10. What happens when you obtain a persons birth and marriage certificate,but cannot find any trace of his parentage.??.

  11. I would like to echo the concern voiced by Bruce Miller (number 1) regarding the meaning of “free” in the context of the immigration lists. What happens if an individual is a member? Is that individual then expected to pay more for the immigrant information?

  12. My Gt.Uncle Philip Shannon age 16 arrived Boston from Liverpool on SS Pavonia May 1884 along with his father Philp and sister Mary. Father and sister returned to England Nov.1886.As far as I know Philip Jnr.remained in Hyde Park Mass. However he appears as arriving in U.S.1889 according to 1910 census. Any ideas – was he not recorded until becoming adult (21) or did he re-enter U.S.1889?

  13. I cannot find Clare Egan`s entry to Canada as her sister said happened, I have searched every ship record going into Canada. Can some one help me. Is their not an Index on everone going into Canada at one time or another. Her trip had to be around 1900 from Athlone Ireland possibly. after Using Ancestry for a year and realding Phil Colettas booke on Passenger ship, nothing found escept an empty bank account……Any help or suggesions or adivec would be so greatly appreciated..I am broke.
    She had a sister Bridget who wndt to Yonkers and a brother Patrick who also came to N.Y, from Athlone according to an obit.

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