This week, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) announced that it has made available for the first time online more than 5.2 million records of some passengers who arrived during the last half of the 19th century at the ports of Baltimore, Boston, New Orleans, New York, and Philadelphia. The records can be accessed through NARA’s online Access to Archival Databases (AAD).
The records were transcribed from original ship manifests into electronic databases by Temple University’s Center for Immigration Research at The Balch Institute. The Center donated the digital records to the National Archives. The records are known as Data Files Relating to the Immigration of Germans to the United States, 1850-1897; Data Files Relating to the Immigration of Italians to the United States, 1855-1900; and Data Files Relating to the Immigration of Russians to the United States, 1834-1897.
There are more than 100 unique “country” codes used in these records. In about 93 percent of them, passengers identified their country of origin or nationality as Germany, Italy, or Russia, or cities or regions of those countries. Passenger records typically include name, age, town of last residence, destination, and codes for the passenger’s sex, occupation, literacy, country of origin, transit and/or travel compartment, and the manifest identification number for the ship. Information on each ship is in a separate file and includes the ship manifest identification number, the name of the ship, the code for its port of departure, and date of arrival. The ship manifest identification number indicates the port of arrival.