Many people have found the Passenger Arrival Manifests for their Immigrant Ancestors on the Ellis Island Records site. I have found the Passenger manifests for all of my grandparents and several other relatives. Only recently, however, have I started to take a second look at these records to discover what additional information they contain about my ancestors – information that may be hidden in annotations and even on other pages of the manifests.
If you already have found the passenger manifest for your immigrant ancestor, take another look at the manifest and look for annotations. Two types of annotations were made. The first type was made prior to or at the time of arrival and includes:
- Numbers in the left margin (typically 2 to 7 digits), especially on lists of ships that sailed from England. This number is the contract ticket number and may be helpful in finding the individual in the British “Outbound Lists”.
- Rarely, a solitary number to the left of the passenger’s name will indicate a Head Tax receipt number.
- “Not Shipped”, “NOB” (Not On Board), “Did Not Sail”, or “Cancelled”, often with the entire line crossed out indicate that, for some reason, the passenger listed did not sail with the ship.
- Sometimes an entire line is crossed out, not because the passenger was not on board, but because they are officially listed on another page of the manifest.
- An “X”, “D”, or “Held” at the left of the manifest, between columns 1 and 2 or in the name column, means that the passenger was temporarily detained or held for a Board of Special Inquiry and the name may have been recorded with further information in a list at the end of the manifest.
- The notation “S.I.” or “B.S.I.” at the left side of the manifest before the name means that the passenger was held for a Board of Special Inquiry hearing and the name may have been recorded with further information in a list at the end of the manifest.
- The notation “USB” or “US Born” or “USC” (US Citizen) may have been made to indicate that the record is for a returning citizen of the United States.
- The letter “C” followed by a string of numbers (C-######), indicating the Naturalization certificate number, may have been made on the records of returning citizens.
The second type of annotation was made after arrival and includes:
- Numbers similar to “435/621” with no date is the New York file number which indicates an early verification/record check. The actual file no longer exists.
- Numbers similar to “432731/435765” indicate that the passenger was a permanent resident of the United States returning with a Re-entry Permit.
- Numbers similar to “1X-151593” indicate that the arrival of the immigrant was verified prior to naturalization and typically indicates that the verification was made after 1926. The first number indicates the naturalization district, the “X”, if present, indicates that no fee was required for the Certificate of Arrival, and the second part of the number is the Certificate of Arrival number or the Application number.
- The date of the Certificate of Arrival or the date of Application may follow the Certificate of Arrival number or Application number.
- “C/A” indicates a request for a “Certificate of Arrival” was made in connection with the filing of papers for Naturalization purposes.
- “V/L” indicates a “Verification of landing” was made.
- “W/A” indicates that a Warrant of Arrest was made.
- “404” or “405” is the Verification Form used to reply to a request for Passenger Manifest information to the INS.
- If only the name is crossed out with a line or a series of X’s and another name was written in, the name was officially amended.
The Passenger Manifest for the Siborowski/Skowronski Family – 1903 shows a number of these annotations, including “S.I.” showing that one family was sent to a Board of Special Inquiry, an “X” showing that the Siborowski/Skowronski family was detained, and a listing of numbers indicating that Certificates of Arrival were issued for some of the passengers, including Pawel Skowronski.
To find additional information such as the “Record of Detained Alien Passengers” or the “Record of Release of Aliens Held for Special Inquiry”, repeatedly click on the arrow to move to the next frame of the film (on the Ellis Island Records site) or scroll through the microfilm to the end. You’ll need to be careful with the Ellis Island site, however, since many of the records are recorded in reverse order, and the “forward” arrow may actually take you backward through the pages in the manifest.
Stephen Morse’s Website
If you already know when your immigrant ancestor arrived and you know the name of the ship on which they traveled, it may be far easier to use Stephen Morse’s website to scroll to the end of the film. Go to Stephen Morse’s site, click on Ship Lists, enter the name of the ship and the date of arrival, and click on “Search” and you will be presented with a link to the correct manifest. You may still need to scroll through images to find the beginning or end of the manifest, but on Stephen Morse’s site, you can scroll though four frames at a time rather than one at a time on the Ellis Island Site. Since Stephen Morse’s site actually directs you to the records on the Ellis Island Records site, you may need to click on the -1 button rather than the +1 button to move forward to the next image if the images were scanned from last to first. If you have the actual frame number for the image of interest, you can enter the frame number directly and jump to that image.
By accessing these images through Stephen Morse’s site, you can save or print the images, even though these functions are disabled on the Ellis Island Site.
Furthermore, Stephen Morse’s site will provide additional information about microfilms containing the images for the ship of interest, information which may be useful to construct a reference source citation for the manifest image. The Siborowski/Skowronski manifest can be found on FHL US/CAN Film 1399018 and on U.S. National Archives Film Series T715, Roll 333, Volume 580, Frame 108.
Of course, you can conduct your entire search for Passenger Manifests from Stephen Morse’s site, which includes a much more powerful and versatile search function than does the Ellis Island Records site.
Record of Detained Aliens and Record of Aliens Held for Special Inquiry
At the end of a post-1903 passenger manifest from Ellis Island, you may find a Record of Detained Aliens and a Record of Aliens Held for Special Inquiry. Although these images are available at the Ellis Island Records site, the individuals in the Records of Detained Aliens and Records of Aliens Held for Special Inquiry are not indexed and you will have to serach for those names manually. Passengers who were dependants of a detained passenger were also detained, but only the number of dependants are listed in the Records of Detained Aliens; their names are not listed.
More Information About the Journey
Finally, by scrolling through the entire ship’s manifest for a given date of arrival, one may discover that the ship stopped in several ports along the way. By examining all pages of the passenger manifest, it becomes apparent that, when the Siborowki/Skowronski family traveled to America, their ship the S.S. Graf Waldersee:
- departed Hamburg, Germany (on the Elbe River) on March 13, 1903;
- departed Cuxhaven, Germany (on the shore of the North Sea at the mouth of the Elbe River in Lower Saxony) on March 14, 1903;
- departed Boulogne-sur-Mer, France (at the mouth of the River Liane on the Pas de Calais, a narrow bottleneck that separates the English Channel from the North Sea) on March 15, 1903;
- departed Plymouth, England (in the southwest of England in the County of Devon at the mouths of the Rivers Plym and Tamar) on March 16, 1903;
- and arrived in New York on March 29, 1903.
Tomorrow: More about the Record of Detained Aliens and Record of Aliens Held for Special Inquiry.
Copyright © 2006 by Stephen J. Danko