But we continue to search, because finding these ship records can be positively riveting, even for those of us who have discovered and saved thousands of records for our ancestors. The manifest may show not only the family group but sometimes the place of birth as well as final destination. Something about seeing your ancestor's name on a ship manifest brings the emigrant's story to life in a palpable way that few other record types do.
After decades of research, the only passenger ship manifest I had found to date for my nine ancestors who emigrated to New York in the 1800's was the one for my 21-year-old Norwegian grandmother, Anna Anundsen (aka Anna Olette Olsen). She arrived from Kragerø, Norway in 1897 to visit her uncle Andreas Roberg (A. Roberg) in Brooklyn. (see line 1). My grandmother's record had eluded me as Anna Olette variously used the surname Olsen, Anundsen, Olavsen or Anundsdatter. The transcriber of the passenger manifest below recorded her name as Anne Amundsen.
- my Swedish grandfather, Axel Strom (b. Hjalmar Axel Oscar Ström, 1 Jan 1867, Stockholm, Sweden)
- my Jewish great grandfather, Simon Zweighaft (b. 15 Dec 1845, Gostynin, Poland), his wife Sofia Hirschberg (b. Zysia Hirszberg, abt. 1844, Pilica, Poland) and their infant son Bernard Zweighaft (b. 23 Dec 1865, Pilica, Poland)
- my Jewish great grandfather Fabian Sachs Kaliske (b. Fabian Sax, 15 Mar 1833, Kalisz, Poland)
- my Jewish great grandmother Theresa Helburn (b. Therese Hellborn, 14 Aug 1855, Dettelbach, Germany) and her parents, Isaac Helburn (b. Isaac Hellborn, 1813, Germany) and his wife, Nanette Feldheim (b. Brünette Feldheim, 9 Aug 1819, Dettelbach, Germany)
- Martin Saxe (b. Martin Kaliske, 28 Aug 1874, N.Y.)
- Blanche Sachs (b. Flora Kaliske, 15 Mar 1876, N.Y.)
- Julian Terris Saxe (b. Julian Terris Kaliske, 17 Jul 1877, N.Y.)
- Arthur Cutting Saxe (b. Arthur Cutting Kaliske, 28 Feb 1879, N.Y.)
- Belle Saxe (b. Bella Kaliske, 14 Jul 1882, N.Y.)
- Review stated emigration dates and ships on multiple records for not only your ancestor, but also collateral relatives - parents, aunts, uncles, cousins
- Browse book and digital collections by ship arrival dates in addition to searching using an index
- Browse ship manifests for ports of departure as well as arrival ports
- If it's unclear when and where your ancestor's ship arrived, review passenger ship arrival statements in the local newspapers for several likely inbound ports. For example, if you are not certain what into what port your New York ancestor arrived, search local newspapers in New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Baltimore for ship arrival notices
- Look for unusual spelling of the family names. Sometimes searching on a given name using wildcards for the surname may be the breakthrough if the surname is badly mangled.