Castle Garden Records
When searching Ellis Island Records, there are many factors to consider in order to successfully locate your immigrant ancestor. The peak period of American immigration occurred between 1892-1924, with the majority of these arrivals coming through the Port of New York at Ellis Island. As the number of arrivals increased, so too did the controls imposed upon steamship companies bringing passengers to American ports.
In general, the later your ancestors arrived in America, the more detail you should be able to obtain. This will hold true for both first-time arrivals, as well as for American citizens returning home from abroad. Since many passengers made multiple trips, you should be sure to evalutate each arrival for new or different information.
Listed below are the various items you may find recorded on an original ship manifest. Expect variations in handwriting from one manifest to the next (typewritten records become common about 1917/1918).
Beginning in 1892:
Port of Departure, Date of Departure, Port of Arrival, Date of Arrival, Name of Ship
Note: If you have an approximate year of birth for the passenger you are trying to find, try using it to narrow down results if your search yields too many records to evaluate. Using a plus/minus 1, 2 or more years could help if you're not 100% certain of the birth year, but have been able to calculate an approximate year based on data from other sources.