Q. Where do I find records of immigrants who entered the United States through New Orleans?
A. New Orleans was one of the busiest US ports. Many immigrants who landed there would then travel by riverboat up the Mississippi River and settle in states bordering the river. Arrival records for passengers who ended up in Galveston, Texas, may be in New Orleans: Some ships would stop first at New Orleans, delivering their passenger lists and some passengers there, then sail on to Galveston to let off more passengers.
The easiest way to search New Orleans passenger lists is to use Ancestry.com’s Immigration and Travel collection, which contains digitized National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) passenger list microfilms for New Orleans covering 1820 to 1902 and 1900 to 1952. Enter New Orleans as the arrival location. (The same records are searchable through Ancestry Library Edition, which is free at many libraries.)
You can view those NARA microfilms at NARA research facilities, or you can view the copies available at many large public libraries or through your local FamilySearch Center. To use the microfilms, you’ll want to have an idea of when your ancestors immigrated.
You also can find some pre-1820 lists of New Orleans passengers in various publications, such as Passenger and Immigration Lists Index edited by P. William Filby (this publication—also searchable on Ancestry.com, but not in Ancestry Library Edition—contains arrivals at other US ports, too).