I'm researching German immigrants to the USA. Some of their records can be found in NARA's Access to Archival Databases, in this collection:
Data Files Relating to the Immigration of Germans to the United States, created, ca. 1977 - 2002, documenting the period 1850 - 1897 - Collection CIR
Part of: Collection CIR: Records of the Center for Immigration Research
Function and Use: The Center for Immigration Research created this series to promote access to information about German immigrants to the United States. The information was extracted from ship passenger lists in the records of the U.S. Customs Service (NARA Record Group 36).
Scope & Content Note: This series consists of records of 4,048,907 passengers who arrived at the United States between 1850 through 1897; about 90 percent identified their country of origin or nationality as Germany or a "German" state, city, or region.
When I find results from this finding aid, I go to Ancestry or the Castle Garden site and try to access the original images there. Often the index at Ancestry is very different from the index generated by CIR.
I am trying to find alternate records, indexes, and images for this passenger manifest:
(manifest number) 36703 (ship) NECKAR (departure port) BREMEN & SOUTHAMPTON (arrival date) 06/26/1882 [arriving port of New York]
Steve Morse's One-Step Web page for New York arrivals identifies the microfilm as follows:
(Series) M237 (Roll) 454 (Year) 1882 (Month) June (Day) 26 (Frame) 151 (ship) neckar (FHL roll) 1027024
Ancestry's database and images of the microfilm from NARA are published as Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 [database on-line].
This voyage is too early for the Bremen Passenger Lists project sponsored by the Bremen Chamber of Commerce and the Bremen Staatsarchiv. The German passenger manifest of this voyage has probably been destroyed. Has anyone in Germany indexed the US copies of the passenger lists?
This voyage is also too early to be included in the Board of Trade records for outbound voyages (BT27), Passenger Lists Leaving UK 1890-1960 at Find My Past. Do any outbound passenger lists exist for ships leaving the UK earlier than 1890?
It is not clear to me how much the index at CastleGarden.org differs from the databases at NARA, or how much NARA's databases differ from the CD-ROMs of Germans to America.
The FamilySearch Collection United States Germans to America Index, 1850-1897 is described as follows:
Data files relating to the immigration of Germans to the United States for arrivals 1850-1897. Created by the Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies, Center for Immigration Research. In August of 2013, the National Archives replaced the ARC – Archival Research Catalog - with the OPA – Online Public Access. ARC identifiers will still work to access the collections in OPA.
This suggests it is the same data that was published by NARA. (see update about the OPA below the dividing line)
The book series Germans to America has known issues -- links to reviews are below:
- Michael P. Palmer, Published Passenger Lists: A Review of German Immigrants and Germans to America, Volumes 1-9 (1850-1855)
- Prof. Dr. Antonius Holtmann published a series of reviews of Germans to America as the books were being published -- see the section entitled Pitfalls in Glazier/Filby: "Germans to America" on this page: Publications (both the German originals and translations in English are on this site).
I am indebted to GenWiki's page Germans to America for the links to the above reviews.
One of the volumes of Series II was reviewed by Giles R. Hoyt (Max Kade German-American Center, IUPUI) and spot-checks similar to those made by Prof. Dr. Holtmann and Michael Palmer revealed the same kind of errors.
Whatever the differences may be between NARA's online version and the book or CD-ROMs, it seems likely that the pitfalls may apply to all three -- which is why I was hoping for lists produced in England or Germany that might have been independently created and indexed.
For example, someone whose research subject left Hamburg in 1850 could consult Clifford Neal Smith's Reconstructed Passenger Lists for 1850: Hamburg to Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, and the United States, Parts 1, 2, 3, & 4:
Working from microfilm copies of the Hamburg police lists, Clifford Neal Smith has here reconstructed the identities of about 7,000 Hamburg passengers whose names were found among 60 separate lists for the year 1850. For each entry the compiler provides the following information: passenger's surname, given name, occupation, birthplace, and reference number from the police register.
The U.S. Customs Service records, which are the only surviving immigration records for the port of New York before 1892, have very limited information compared to the passenger lists from other ports (or from post-1892 New York arrival records).
Also, the handwriting on the extant customs list is not very good. If I could find any overlapping segment of the passenger list for this voyage, comparing them would help decipher the handwriting on the US Customs Service list.
As of 20 May 2015, the OPA (Online Public Access) at NARA has been replaced by a new catalog at http://www.archives.gov/research/catalog/ .