The focal point of the American Family Immigration History Center™ at the Ellis Island
Immigration Museum is a computerized database that provides visitors with automated access
to the names of more than 22 million individuals listed on the Ellis Island passenger manifests.
The process of extracting these records began in 1993 when the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints began the volunteer effort of transcribing the ship passenger manifests for the Port of New York
between 1892-1924. This project was the culmination of a cooperative agreement between the National Park
Service, the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, and the Church.
- The Ellis Island database provides easy access to the passenger arrival records of approximately
22 million individuals whose names appear on the original ship passenger manifests for the Port of New York
- Over 12,000 Church volunteers in 2,700 congregations throughout the United States and Canada donated
approximately 5.6 million hours to complete the transcription of the estimated 22 million entries in the
database. The Church also devoted 20 full-time staff members and 35 full-time missionary volunteers to
work on the project.
- This was the most difficult extraction project ever undertaken by the Church. Poor filming, multiple
nationalities and ethnic groups represented by the passenger names (often on a single page), and numerous
scribes with sometimes difficult to read handwriting, all contributed to the difficulty of the project.
- In addition to the names of immigrants to the U.S., the database includes, U.S. citizens who were
returning home, crew members, non-immigrant aliens, deportees, and those who literally missed the boat.
The Port of New York accounted for 71% of all immigrant arrivals to the United States during the time period
- If stacked flat, the 3,685 rolls of microfilm that were transcribed by Church volunteers would exceed
three times the height of the Statue of Liberty, from the hem of her flowing robe to the top of her torch.
- Visitors to the American Family Immigration History Center™ on Ellis Island can now search on computer
for ancestors who may have immigrated to the United States from many countries during this 32-year period,
which was the single largest period of immigration in U.S. history.
- Information provided for individual records usually included the following: passenger's name, name of
vessel, port of departure, port and date of arrival, age, gender, marital status, and nationality. Other
information possibly recorded includes age, gender, marital status, nationality, relative or friend outside
the United States, relative inside the United States, exact date and place of birth. The information recorded
on the manifests became increasingly detailed with time. An average of 15 information columns were used in the
early years of Ellis Island while up to 36 columns of facts were collected in the later years.
- The countries with the highest emigration were: Italy, Austria, Hungary, Russia, Finland, England, Ireland,
Scotland, Germany, and Poland.
- The database will be available to the public at both the American Family Immigration History Center™ and
on the Ellis Island website at www.ellisislandrecords.org. Once an ancestor is found in the database,
a copy of the original passenger manifest, and a picture of the vessel on which they traveled may be requested
for a nominal fee.
- It is estimated that today there are 100 million living descendants of the Ellis Island immigrants,
approximately 40% of the U.S population.
- Through its popular familysearch.org website, the Church has made available to the public a number of
other genealogical research tools, including census records and vital records indexes. The website currently
receives approximately 9 million hits per day.
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints encourages its members to be actively engaged in family
history research. Church President, Gordon B. Hinckley, stated, "Seeking to understand our family history can
change our lives. It helps bring unity and cohesion to families. There is something about understanding the
past that helps give our young people something to live up to, a legacy to respect."