Now What: Can I Find Records of U.S. Outbound Ships?

Now What: Can I Find Records of U.S. Outbound Ships?

Are there records of U.S. ships leaving for Europe?

Q. I know about passenger records for ships arriving in US ports, but how would I find records for outbound ships, leaving the United States for Europe?

A. Unfortunately, neither the United States nor Canada maintained passenger records for outbound ships departing their shores. Your success in finding such records will depend on where the ship was headed and when it sailed. Ships arriving in British ports, for example, were required to deposit an official passenger list with the port authorities. But virtually no original lists before 1890 survive.

Those that do, from 1878 to 1888, along with surviving lists for the period 1890 to 1960, are held at Britain’s national archives. They’re arranged by port and date and do not have indexes of passengers’ names, so you’ll need to narrow down a search by either the name of the ship and approximate dates when passengers traveled, or the port and date of departure or arrival. You can research which ships arrived and when using Lloyd’s List, a newspaper of shipping movements that was first issued twice weekly, later daily, and summarized from 1882 in Lloyd’s Weekly Shipping Index.

A few outbound ship passenger lists, mostly for ships headed for England, have been indexed online. These are part of the Ship Passenger List Indexing Projects.

From the January 2012 issue of Family Tree Magazine

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