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The Ellis Island (Port of New York) search engine is here!  

And as a result, this is the message you will probably see when you visit http://www.ellisislandrecords.org.  "Thank you for your interest in the American Family Immigration History Center at ellisislandrecords.org.  Due to an extraordinary number of visitors, we must limit access to the site.  Please keep trying or check back

Ellis Island officials and the Mormon Church have introduced this new database containing arrival records for the 22 million immigrants who entered the port of New York from 1892 to 1924.  The database, which includes 70 percent of all U.S. arrivals recorded during that period, is available to Ellis Island visitors and on the Internet at

The 22 million total records in the Ellis Island database are broken
down roughly as follows...
--12 million immigrants who were processed at Ellis Island
-- 5 million New York arrivals who were not processed at Ellis Island
(such as 1st & 2nd class passengers and those who were processed at
the Barge Office 1897-1900)
-- 5 million non-immigrant passengers -- visitors to the US, US
citizens & ship crew
Here are a few hints to be successful in searching the Ellis Island
-- Search during off hours such as the wee hours of the morning.  
Evenings and weekends are the most difficult time to get through.
-- Once you enter a search request, you may get the "keep trying"
message.  Stay on that page and keep hitting the refresh/reload
button.  It may take a number of times, but eventually you should see
a black screen or yellow screen start to come up.  These mean the
results to your search will appear shortly.   A white page means an
overwhelmed server message.
-- A shortcut to the Ellis Island search can be found at
http://www.searchforancestors.com/records/passenger.html It is easier
than trying to get to the search box on the Ellis Island site.  

In order to complete a search, you will be asked to become a member
of the site, but this is a free membership.

Once you are able to begin searching
--Print  and save records as you find them, because it is difficult to get back to them without getting a "try again" message.
--If a search on the first and last name of the immigrant ancestor does not yield results, try using just the first initial and last name, or just the last name.
--Try every spelling variation you can think of.  The ship manifest lists are full of misspellings, and because some of the lists were so difficult to read, the transcription may not be accurate.  For example, I found one family immigrant whose last name began with a Q listed on the database as beginning with an O.
--If you still cannot find your immigrant ancestor, try searching for someone who may have been traveling with him/her - a spouse, sibling, child, or a family friend from the same ancestral village.  You can then look at the ship manifest list to see if your ancestor traveled
on the same ship.
-- If you have a successful search and receive a list of names, you may narrow your search by specifying gender, year of arrival, ethnicity, age on arrival, port of departure, or the name of the ship by using the edit boxes on the left column. This can be a great aid in finding extended families who traveled together: first find one particular individual, then specify a search for everyone of that surname arriving on the same day.

Once you discover an ancestor in the database, you will find
--Immigrant's given name
--Immigrant's surname
--Age at arrival
--Marital status
--Last residence (town & country)
--Date of arrival
--Ship of travel
--Port of origin
--Line number on which they appear on the manifest

Once you have found an ancestor, and clicked on his name, you can then click on the ship's manifest list to see who is traveling with your ancestor (a great way to find the rest of the family), and you can also click for an image of the ship.  You can see both the transcribed manifest list and the original manifest list.  When you see the original with the difficult to read handwriting and faded pages, you will appreciate what a wonderful job the volunteers have