Inside Sources: Ports of All Sorts

By Dana Schmidt Premium

Though New York, Boston, Baltimore, Philadelphia and New Orleans get most of the immigration spotlight, boats docked at ports all along the country’s coastlines. The National Archives and Records Administration keeps records for many of these ports. Below, you’ll find a handy list of dates for 23 popular entry points’ records. For a complete rundown, look for the section on Available Immigration Records in the Guide to Genealogical Research in the National Archives, 3rd edition. If you can’t find your ancestors at the first city you check, try others nearby. (Keep in mind that each port may not have complete coverage within the span of years listed.)

Baltimore 1820-1897, 1891-1957

Beaufort, NC 1865

Boston 1820-1874, 1883-1891, 1891-1943

Bridgeport, Conn. 1870, 1929-1959

Charleston, SC 1820-1829, 1865, 1890-1939

Galveston, Texas 1846-1951

Gloucester, Mass. 1820, 1832-1839, 1867-1868, 1870, 1906-1943

Gulfport and Pascagoula, Miss. 1903-1954

Key West, Fla. 1837-1852, 1857-1868, 1890-1945

New Bedford, Mass. 1822, 1825-1852, 1902-1954

New London, Conn. 1820-1847, 1929-1959

New Orleans 1813-1952

Newport, RI 1820-1852, 1857

New York City 1789-1957

Norfolk and Portsmouth, Va. 1820-1857

Pensacola, Fla. 1890-1948

Philadelphia 1800-1882, 1883-1948

Portland, Maine 1893-1943

Providence, RI 1820-1867, 1911-1954

San Francisco 1882-1957

Savannah, Ga. 1820-1826, 1831, 1847-1851, 1865-1868, 1890-1945

Seattle 1882-1957

Wilmington, Del. 1820, 1830-1831, 1833, 1840-1849
Research tip: You may find ancestors who immigrated before 1820 on “baggage lists.” Shipmasters recorded the names of passengers carrying baggage so those travelers wouldn’t have to pay duties on their belongings once they reached their intended port.
From the September 2005 Family Tree Sourcebook