Genealogy Mythbuster

All immigrants came through Ellis Island.

True or False?

False: If your ancestor immigrated to the United States, he/she had to come through a port of entry. Ellis Island is certainly the most famous port, but it was not the only one. Ellis Island opened its doors in 1892. Prior to that, Castle Garden accepted immigrants from 1855-1890. Outside of New York, ports of entry included Baltimore, Boston, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Canada, and other smaller ports in Virginia, Connecticut, Delaware, Texas, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Maine, Rhode Island, Florida, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Michigan, Alaska, California, Hawaii and Washington.

Ancestry, FamilySearch and the National Archives all offer passenger list databases. The Miami-Dade Public Library also has numerous items on immigration. Follow the link here: https://catalog.mdpls.org/search/searchresults.aspx?ctx=1.1033.0.0.9&type=Keyword&term=immigration&by=KW&sort=RELEVANCE&limit=TOM=*&query=&page=0&searchid=3 The Olive Tree Genealogy site also has great information on several immigration ports. https://www.olivetreegenealogy.com/immigration/index.shtml . If your ancestors were Russian, Irish, German, or Italian, try NARA’s Access to Archival Databases immigration collection at https://aad.archives.gov/aad/series-list.jsp?cat=GP44 .

If you are still having trouble finding your ancestor’s immigration records, be sure to also check the port of departure in his/her home country. Most countries required “going out” records of their citizens. This information could help narrow down the date of departure, ship name and port of U.S. entry.

Happy Searching!