How to Use Ancestry.com's Immigration Records Collection
11/6/2012
Seeking your ancestors in an ocean of US arrival records? Here's how to find them in Ancestry.com's immigration records collection.
Seeking your ancestors' US arrival records? Here's how to find them in Ancestry.com's immigration records collection.

When you think of online immigration and passenger-list research, the first sites that come to mind are probably those for Ellis Island or its predecessor, Castle Garden, or a volunteer site like the Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild. But you also should think of the subscription site Ancestry.com . In addition to its rich collections of censuses, vital records, newspapers and other resources, Ancestry.com has built up an impressive toolkit for solving the often-intractable problem of "crossing the pond."

Ancestry.com divides its Immigration and Travel collection into six categories of databases: Passenger Lists, Citizenship and Naturalization Records, Border Crossings and Passports, Crew Lists, Immigration and Emigration Books, and Ship Pictures and Descriptions. Some databases are indexes; many link to images of original records.

You can search all these databases at once, by category or one at a time. And because you can pop back and forth with other Ancestry.com records, you can easily cross-reference data about an ancestor: Find your ancestor's year of naturalization or how many years the 1900 census says he'd been in America, for example, and use that information to locate naturalization and passenger-list records. Best of all, you can use most of the collection free at libraries offering Ancestry Library Edition. See two examples of immigrant searches on Ancestry.com.