We'll show you how to make the most of Ellis Island's free online passenger search to discover your immigrant ancestors.
Pictures of immigrants passing through Ellis Island, lugging all their worldly possessions toward the promise of a better life, are iconic images of American history. A 27.5-acre island off the tip of Manhattan, Ellis Island was the entry point for 71 percent of US immigrants between 1892 and 1924. Almost half of Americans have someone on their family tree who arrived there.
Shipping companies kept detailed passenger lists, called “manifests.” Before the Ellis Island passenger lists were indexed, finding your ancestor on a microfilmed manifest was nearly impossible if you didn’t know the ship’s name or approximate arrival date.