Passenger lists are important primary sources of arrival data for the vast majority of immigrants to the United States in the nineteenth century. Indexed and easy to search, this database includes extensive arrival information on approximately 258,000 individuals who arrived in New Orleans between 1820 and 1850.
Partly in an effort to alleviate overcrowding of passenger ships, Congress enacted legislation (3 Stat. 489) on March 2, 1819 to regulate the transport of passengers in ships arriving from foreign ports. As a provision of this act, masters of such ships were required to submit a list of all passengers to the collector of customs in the district in which the ship arrived. The legislation also provided that the collector of customs submit quarterly passenger list reports to the Secretary of State, who was, in turn, required to submit the information to Congress. The information was then published in the form of Congressional documents. These passenger lists are important primary sources of arrival data for the vast majority of immigrants to the United States in the nineteenth century.