FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

How do I search this database?

Enter as much information as you know.

The documents in this database reflect spellings of the time and may differ from family records. For the most complete results, use asterisks in your search to yield multiple spellings.

For example, searching Jo*n* Smith will yield results for Jon Smith, John Smith, Jonathan Smith, and Johnathan Smith.

What is a ship's manifest and why is it important to preserve this data?

A manifest is the list of passengers aboard each ship. These documents also recorded other information about each passenger including occupation, age, sex, etc. It is important to preserve these documents as they are the only records of the immigrants who arrived at Castle Garden.

How can I view an original ship’s manifest?

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has custody of the original nineteenth-century documents. Contact NARA at (866) 272-6272 to view microfilm or digital images of original manifests.

When did immigrants arrive through Castle Garden?

From August 3, 1855 to April 18, 1890, the Castle was America's first official immigration center, a pioneering collaboration of New York State and New York City. In 1890 the U.S. government took control of immigration and opened Ellis Island in 1892. Records contained in Castlegarden.org come from ship’s manifests dating from 1820 to 1892.

Where did Castle Garden immigrants come from?

The 8 million immigrants who entered the United States through Castle Garden between 1855 and 1890 were led by German (3,425,000) and Irish (2,541,000). The rest, in descending population, were English, Swedish, Italian, Scottish, Russian, Norwegian, Swiss, French, Hungarian, Danish, Austrian, Dutch, Bohemian, Welsh, Belgian, Spanish, Polish, Chinese, Portuguese, Greek, Turkish, and Austrian.

What ships brought immigrants to Castle Garden?

4,346 unique ship names are recorded in Castle Garden’s manifest documents. The first ships received at Castle Garden on August 3, 1855 were ‘Albert’ with 240 passengers, ‘Bridgewater’ with 250 passengers from Liverpool, ‘Leila’ with 12 families from the Netherlands, and ‘Mary’ with 300 passengers from Havre.

Can I visit the site of the Castle?

Yes! Retrace your ancestors’ footsteps as they disembarked onto the waterfront of The Battery, walked through the original walls of Castle Garden to be registered and then were welcomed onto American soil with the beauty of New York’s birthplace park, The Battery. Visit http://thebattery.org/visit-the-battery/ to plan your trip.

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CastleGarden.org is a project of The Battery Conservancy, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.