What information will I find on a ship manifest? Personal data on any person who has booked passage on the ship. This includes: age, marital status, last residence, final destination, and other interesting information.
No, here is some background on immigration into the Port of New York.
First, a chronology of New York arrival points and some information about records:
1. Aug.1, 1855-April 18, 1890 Castle Garden
2. April 19, 1890-December 31, 1891 Barge Office
3. Jan. 1, 1892-June 13, 1897 Ellis Island
4. June 14, 1897-Dec. 16, 1900 Barge Office
5. Dec. 17, 1900-1924 Ellis Island
The State of New York opened the very first examining and processing center for immigrants in 1855, Castle Garden, on an island off the southwest tip of Manhattan. Immigration remained purely an affair of State, not federal, government until 1875. In that year Congress asserted its Constitutional prerogative to legislate immigration affairs by passing a law forbidding entry into the USA of criminals and women "brought for lewd and immoral purposes".
From 1875 the reception of immigrants was handled as a joint State/Federal system. The Secretary of the Treasury signed a contract with the New York State Commissioners of Emigration to continue its services at Castle Garden. On April 18, 1890, the Secretary terminated the contract and the Treasury Department assumed total control of immigration at the Port of New York. The New York State authorities refused to allow the federal government to use the Castle Garden facilities.
On April 19, 1890 the US set up a temporary center in the old Barge Office near the Customs House on the southeast foot of Manhattan. Ellis Island opened on January 1, 1892. On June 14, 1897 the original wooden structure burned to the ground. ALL administrative records for Castle Garden for the period 1855-1890 and MOST records for the Barge Office and Ellis facilities were lost. (Ships passenger lists still exist as these were in the custody of other agencies). The barge Office was reactivated and used until the new Ellis Island facility opened on December 17, 1900. *
For the port of New York, the arrivals for 1820-1846, and for June 16, 1897 -- June 30, 1902 are alphabetized indexes. There is no index for NY for 1846-1897. The information provided on the alphabetized index cards is basically a transcription of the passenger manifest information for the individual concerned. Thus, these cards will have all the information which was required on the manifest at the time (1897-1902) including last residence (village), prior entries, final destination, etc. Soundex cards for the period 1902 to approximately 1910 will have ship name, date of arrival, in addition to name, age, sex, but they wont contain full info such as village and prior entries. Cards after 1910 contain just name, age, sex, page number, line number, and volume number.
According to the instructions for filling out the manifest, this column should contain the dates of prior residence in the United States, along with the location of residence. Thus, "1907-1912, Chicago," should mean that the immigrant had resided in Chicago from 1907 to 1912. However, often these dates do not, in fact, indicate actual periods of previous residence. As a case in point, one ancestor's 1908 manifest listed prior residence as "1898-1902, Chicago," but after much searching, these dates were found to actually indicate dates of return to Italy. His periods of residence in the US were actually 1893-1898, and 1900-1902. Often whole periods of time ignored return trips to Italy -- another ancestor's 1901 arrival record indicated previous residence as "1891-1900, Chicago," but his actual residence in the US was 1891-1893, 1894-1900. Also, these dates might not necessarily correspond exactly to the actual dates in question -- another record showed "1907-1912" when the actual dates were 1906-1912. Of course, sometimes the dates are just what they are supposed to be: inclusive dates of previous residence.
The Documentation Center on the People and Cultures of Italian Origin in the World, set up by the Giovanni Agnelli Foundation in 1993, offers three separate data banks containing the transcription of the information contained in the passenger lists of the ships that arrived in New York, Buenos Aires and Vitoria (Brasil), (Italian nationals only).
The following information is available for each passenger: name, surname, sex, age, level of education, any relationship with other passengers, port of embarkment, last residence, destination, type of transit, accommodation on board, profession, name of ship, date of arrival The United States.
Data bank was created by Temple University - Balch Institute - Center for Immigration Research (Philadelphia), directed by Ira Glazier. It contains the files on about 200,000 Italian emigrants recorded in the Ship Passenger Lists who arrived in New York between 1880 and 1891.
This database, also called Radici is available again. Now, the search engine offers more search criteria: port, ship, place of origin.
The new url is:
THEY CAME IN SHIPS: A GUIDE TO FINDING YOUR IMMIGRANT ANCESTOR'S ARRIVAL RECORDS
Colletta, John P.
1989, revised 1993, ISBN 93-26835
Salt Lake City: Ancestry