Source Information Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., Book Indexes to Passenger Lists, 1899-1940 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010.
Original data: Book Indexes to Boston Passenger Lists, 1899-1940. Microfilm, T790, 107 rolls. Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, Record Group 85. National Archives, Washington, D.C.

About Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., Book Indexes to Passenger Lists, 1899-1940

Included in this database are book indexes to passengers arriving by ship in Boston, Massachusetts between 1899 and 1940. They are arranged chronologically by the ship arrival date and then alphabetically by surname and class. To make the most of these records it will be helpful to have an idea of where the person was coming from and when they arrived. Currently there are no records for the year 1901.

Boston is the oldest continually active major port in the Western Hemisphere. Although scattered shipping records were kept, it wasn’t until 1820 that the United States required the captain or master of incoming ships to submit a list of passengers from foreign ports to the collector of customs. In 1882 Congress passed the first Federal law regulating immigration, and in 1903 there was an official administrative department named the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization.

If your ancestor docked in Boston they would have been divided by class such as the Cabin passengers and the Tourist class passengers depending on what fare they could afford. Upon arrival they would have encountered a large Irish American population in Boston as it had become a haven for the Irish, especially after the Irish Potato Famine in the mid-1800s. In 1892 the opening of the Ellis Island, New York facility to examine immigrants greatly affected the Boston port, which began to see fewer passenger ships. In the 1920s the number of immigrants accepted from each country became more restricted by the US Government.

Information in this index:

  • Surname
  • Age
  • Nationality
  • Intended destination (where booked to)