More than 90,000 records in this set represent an original entry in ship’s passenger lists. The amount of information listed for each passenger can vary, but the Boston Passenger Lists, 1846-1851 typically provide:
The Boston Passenger List records match the years of the height of the Great Irish Famine, during this time it is estimated that two million people left Ireland. Many made their way to the United States. As a major port city, Boston received more than six million immigrants during the 19th and 20th centuries, many from Ireland, England, Scotland, and Wales, in addition to other countries. Immigrants from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland had been traveling to Boston since the 1620’s, settling new cities and towns and making Boston the capital city of a region referred to as New England. However from the 1840’s until the end of the century, Irish families were the largest immigrant group in Boston. Perhaps more than any other city, Boston was a center for Irish immigration and today Massachusetts is still considered “the most Irish state,” with nearly a quarter of residents claiming Irish ancestry.
When researching your own family, remember that some families did not always arrive in a single group. In some cases, the head of a family would travel ahead to prepare the way for his wife and children. While some families continued their journey into America and headed for areas where distant relatives or those from their former homeland had previously settled, many other families stayed in Boston.
Passenger lists are just one of many records that detail your family’s journey to America. These records can include errors or mistakes in spellings, occupations, and ages. Birth years in this collection were calculated from an individual’s stated age and the year of immigration. To find more information about your relatives, explore local newspapers. You can also search in our collection of Boston and Massachusetts vital records as well as federal census. Naturalization records are another useful source, as many immigrants strove to become American citizens, filing papers for their naturalization after their arrival.
For more information about original passenger lists see The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy, 3rd Edition, by Val D. Greenwood.
The records in this set are taken from original ship manifests kept by the ship’s master. The original records are stored on microfilm, publication number M277, at the National Archives and Record Administration (NARA), in Washington D.C.
findmypast is pleased to present these records in partnership with the JFK trust. The JFK Trust is an organization that has worked with the Balch Institute, the Ellis Island Restoration Commission and the Battery Conservancy to collect the records for all Irish emigration to the United States and compile a complete database.