Italians arrived in New York

Italians arrived in New York

Records from late 19th and 20th Century are the ones most important for Italian researchers. For this time period, the Passenger Lists include much information. The amount of information found will depend on the year your ancestors came to the United States. In early years, such as mid-19th Century, the Customs Lists contained the lists of passengers and do not include much information. The Customs Bureau was interested in the cargo being shipped and not the people. The early Lists had the ship’s name, its captain, tonnage, and the name, age , sex and country of origin of the passenger.

After the opening of Ellis Island 1892 things changed. The Federal Government became interested in learning about the hordes of people who were coming over to the United States. The Lists now included name, age, occupation, county of citizenship, where the passengers came from and where they were born, their destination and where they were going to in the United States and if they died on the voyage.

With the passage of years more and more questions were asked such as their last residence, their final destination and to which relative they were going and their address (1907), and if they had been to the United States before and when, and a physical description.

These Passenger Lists were filled out in Europe and strongly refuted that “old chestnut” about names being changed at Ellis Island. As most expert genealogists will tell you, names were changed after they arrived in the United States either by choice or error. The names in the Passenger Lists are mostly accurate.

Did all Italian immigrants arriving in the U.S. at New York enter through the Ellis Island processing center?

No, here is some background on immigration into the Port of New York.
First, a chronology of New York arrival points and some information about records:

1. Aug.1, 1855-April 18, 1890 Castle Garden
2. April 19, 1890-December 31, 1891 Barge Office
3. Jan. 1, 1892-June 13, 1897 Ellis Island
4. June 14, 1897-Dec. 16, 1900 Barge Office
5. Dec. 17, 1900-1924 Ellis Island

The State of New York opened the very first examining and processing center for immigrants in 1855, Castle Garden, on an island off the southwest tip of Manhattan. Immigration remained purely an affair of State, not federal, government until 1875. In that year Congress asserted its Constitutional prerogative to legislate immigration affairs by passing a law forbidding entry into the USA of criminals and women “brought for lewd and immoral purposes”.

From 1875 the reception of immigrants was handled as a joint State/Federal system. The Secretary of the Treasury signed a contract with the New York State Commissioners of Emigration to continue its services at Castle Garden. On April 18, 1890, the Secretary terminated the contract and the Treasury Department assumed total control of immigration at the Port of New York. The New York State authorities refused to allow the federal government to use the Castle Garden facilities.

On April 19, 1890 the US set up a temporary center in the old Barge Office near the Customs House on the southeast foot of Manhattan. Ellis Island opened on January 1, 1892. On June 14, 1897 the original wooden structure burned to the ground. ALL administrative records for Castle Garden for the period 1855-1890 and MOST records for the Barge Office and Ellis facilities were lost. (Ships passenger lists still exist as these were in the custody of other agencies). The barge Office was reactivated and used until the new Ellis Island facility opened on December 17, 1900. 1

Index Card

For the port of New York, the arrivals for 1820-1846, and for June 16, 1897 — June 30, 1902 are alphabetized indexes. There is no index for NY for 1846-1897. The information provided on the alphabetized index cards is basically a transcription of the passenger manifest information for the individual concerned. Thus, these cards will have all the information which was required on the manifest at the time (1897-1902) including last residence (village), prior entries, final destination, etc. Soundex cards for the period 1902 to approximately 1910 will have ship name, date of arrival, in addition to name, age, sex, but they wont contain full info such as village and prior entries. Cards after 1910 contain just name, age, sex, page number, line number, and volume number.

Ellis Island passengers lists

  • New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1891 – Passenger lists for over 13 million immigrants arriving in New York City from 1820 through 1891. NARA publication M237: Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, New York, 1820-1897. This collection is being published as records become available.
  • FamilySearch
  • Ellis Island database includes the nearly 25 million passengers (tourists, immigrants, returning US citizens, transit passengers, and crew members) from ships that called into the Port of New York in the years 1892- 1924, when immigration slowed down due to government-imposed restrictions.

Airline passenger lists

Ellis Island database includes lists of passengers who arrived at the New York Airport aboard a plane from an Italian airline around 1950.

Italians arrived in New York between 1880 and 1891

The Documentation Center on the People and Cultures of Italian Origin in the World, set up by the Giovanni Agnelli Foundation in 1993, offers three separate data banks containing the transcription of the information contained in the passenger lists of the ships that arrived in New York, Buenos Aires and Vitoria (Brasil), (Italian nationals only). The following information is available for each passenger: name, surname, sex, age, level of education, any relationship with other passengers, port of embarkment, last residence, destination, type of transit, accommodation on board, profession, name of ship, date of arrival The United States.

Data bank was created by Temple University – Balch Institute – Center for Immigration Research (Philadelphia), directed by Ira Glazier. It contains the files on about 200,000 Italian emigrants recorded in the Ship Passenger Lists who arrived in New York between 1880 and 1891. This database, also called Radici is available again. Now, the search engine offers more search criteria: port, ship, place of origin.

  1. Adapted from: THEY CAME IN SHIPS: A GUIDE TO FINDING YOUR IMMIGRANT ANCESTOR’S ARRIVAL RECORDS Colletta, John P. 1989, revised 1993, ISBN 93-26835 Salt Lake City: Ancestry