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Notes on Researching Passenger Lists of Arrivals
at Boston and Related Ports since 1820

1820-1891

Boston
United States Customs Lists exist for ships arriving at Boston from 1820 (available at the National Archives and/or through LDS Family History Centers), but are only indexed from 1848. A second set of lists also exists from 1848, the "state lists" at the Massachusetts State Archives. Any consideration of passenger list research for the second half of the 19th century should consider all these records as a whole.

The index to the lists from 1848, Index to Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Boston, MA, 1848-1891 (NARA publication M265) indexes both sets of passenger lists. That is, the index refers to lists at both the National Archives and the State Archives. Neither the national lists nor the state lists are complete, so index cards in the National Archives index will often refer to lists available only at the State Archives.

boston 1851
View of Boston, 1851
   
Online indexes
 
      Maine Passenger Lists Index online
      Boston Immigration Index Updated (1848-1891) online
 

Passenger Lists of Vessels
Arriving at Boston, MA, 1820-1891

NARA publication M277
Massachusetts State Archives
passenger list information (1848-1891)

Related Ports of Entry

Not all ships bringing passengers to the Boston area landed those passengers at Boston. A number of ship passenger lists survive for a large number of smaller ports in Maine, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, and are reproduced in Copies of Lists of Passengers Arriving at Miscellaneous Ports on the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts and at Ports on the Great Lakes, 1820-1873 (NARA publication M575). These lists are indexed by A Supplemental Index to Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Altantic and Gulf Coast Ports (Excluding New York), 1820-1874 (NARA publication M334).

Selected ports from that publication are shown below, showing the dates of the surviving lists for each port:

Massachusetts
Barnstable, MA 1820-1826
Dighton, MA 1820-1836
Edgartown, MA 1820-1870
Fall River, MA 1837-1865
Gloucester, MA 1820-1870
Marblehead, MA 1820-1849
Nantucket, MA 1820-1862
New Bedford, MA 1826-1852
Newburyport, MA 1821-1839
Plymouth, MA 1821-1844
Maine
Bath, ME 1825-1867
Belfast, ME 1820-1851
Kennebunk, ME 1820-1842
Passamaquoddy, ME 1820-1859
Portland & Falmouth, ME 1820-1868
Waldoboro, ME 1820-1833
Rhode Island
Bristol & Warren, RI 1820-1871
Newport, RI 1820-1857
Providence, RI 1820-1867


1891-1954

Boston Indexes

There are several indices to Boston passenger lists after 1891. Unfortunately, the years between 1891 and 1902 remain without a name index. The earliest finding aids are the Book indexes to passenger arrivals at Boston, MA, 4/1/1899-9/14/1940 (NARA publication T790), and even these are missing the year 1901. Book indexes are arranged by date and ship, so one must have some idea of where the immigrant came from and when he/she arrived. If one has a general grasp of these facts, searching the book indexes can be less tedious than searching passenger list after passenger list.

The later years, from 1902 to 1920, are indexed by two separate publications available at the National Archives or at/through LDS Family History Centers:

Index to Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Boston, Massachusetts, Jan. 1, 1902-June 30, 1906
NARA publication T521
Index to Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Boston, Massachusetts, July 1, 1906-Dec. 31, 1920
NARA publication T617

There is a name index to passenger arrivals at Boston from January 1, 1921 to 1948, but it has not yet been published by the National Archives.

Boston Passenger Lists

United States immigration lists for Boston since 1891 are published by the National Archives as Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Boston, Massachusetts, Aug 1, 1891-1943 (NARA publication T843), and are available at the National Archives or at/through LDS Family History Centers.

Crew Lists

Lists of ship crew members are published since 1917 as Crew Lists of Vessel Arriving at Boston, Massachusetts, May 1, 1917-1943 (NARA publication T938).

Note that lists of Canadian crewmen arriving at Boston between August 1919 and October 1930 were filed separately, and have not been published by the National Archives.

Related Ports of Entry - Notes and Microfilm Publication Information:

Gloucester, MA

Passenger Lists for Vessels Arriving at Gloucester, MA, Oct 1, 1906-1942, NARA publication M1321

Halifax, Nova Scotia

Between August 1, 1891 and April 30, 1904, records of immigrants traveling from or via Halifax to Boston, MA, were filed at Boston.

Between May 1, 1904, and June 30, 1929, immigrants embarking at Halifax and destined to Boston were examined at Halifax and not examined at Boston, and their records were filed with the Canadian Border Arrival Records (St. Albans records, NARA publications M1461, M1463, M1464).

New Bedford, MA

Index to Passengers Arriving at New Bedford, Massachusetts, July 1, 1902-Nov. 18, 1954, NARA publication T522

Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New Bedford, Massachusetts, 1902-1942, NARA publication T944

fabre line office
Steamship lines did much business carrying immigrants, especially Portuguese immigrants, to and from New Bedford

Portland, ME

Index to Passengers Arriving at Portland, Maine, Jan. 29, 1893-Nov. 22, 1954, NARA publication T524

Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Portland, Maine, Nov. 29, 1893-Mar. 1943, NARA publication A1151

portland station
Passengers proceeding from Portland passed through the main railroad station of that city

Providence, RI

Index to Passengers Arriving at Providence, Rhode Island, June 18, 1911-Oct. 5, 1954, NARA publication T518

Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Providence, Rhode Island, 1911-1943, NARA publication A1188

St. John, New Brunswick

Between August 1, 1891 and April 30, 1904, records of immigrants traveling from or via St. John to Boston, MA, were filed at Boston.

Between May 1, 1904, and June 30, 1929, immigrants embarking at St. John and destined to Boston were examined at St. John and not examined st Boston, and their records were filed with the Canadian Border Arrival Records (St. Albans records, NARA publications M1461, M1463, M1464).

Yarmouth, Nova Scotia

Between August 1, 1891 and April 30, 1904, records of immigrants traveling from or via Yarmouth to Boston, MA, were filed at Boston.

Between May 1, 1904, and June 30, 1929, immigrants embarking at Yarmouth and destined to Boston were examined at Yarmouth and not examined st Boston, and their records were filed with the Canadian Border Arrival Records (St. Albans records, NARA publications M1461, M1463, M1464).

see also Joe Beine's website
Finding Passenger Arrival Records at the Port of Boston, Massachusetts 1820-1943 (off-site)

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