Find your ancestors in Boston Passenger Lists, 1846-1851

Discover your family’s journey to America and their arrival at Boston, Massachusetts, between 1846 and 1851, when many families were fleeing the Great Irish Famine. These records will help you uncover new facts about the ship, occupations, and relatives.

What can these records tell me?

More than 90,000 records in this set represent an original entry in ship’s passenger lists. The amount of information listed for each passenger can vary, but the Boston Passenger Lists, 1846-1851 typically provide:

  • Name
  • Age
  • Occupation
  • Country of origin
  • Ship departure port
  • Date of arrival
  • Ship name
  • People with same last name on this voyage
  • Discover more about Boston Passenger Lists, 1846-1851

    The Boston Passenger List records match the years of the height of the Great Irish Famine, during this time it is estimated that two million people left Ireland. Many made their way to the United States. As a major port city, Boston received more than six million immigrants during the 19th and 20th centuries, many from Ireland, England, Scotland, and Wales, in addition to other countries. Immigrants from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland had been traveling to Boston since the 1620’s, settling new cities and towns and making Boston the capital city of a region referred to as New England. However from the 1840’s until the end of the century, Irish families were the largest immigrant group in Boston. Perhaps more than any other city, Boston was a center for Irish immigration and today Massachusetts is still considered “the most Irish state,” with nearly a quarter of residents claiming Irish ancestry.

    When researching your own family, remember that some families did not always arrive in a single group. In some cases, the head of a family would travel ahead to prepare the way for his wife and children. While some families continued their journey into America and headed for areas where distant relatives or those from their former homeland had previously settled, many other families stayed in Boston.

    Passenger lists are just one of many records that detail your family’s journey to America. These records can include errors or mistakes in spellings, occupations, and ages. Birth years in this collection were calculated from an individual’s stated age and the year of immigration. To find more information about your relatives, explore local newspapers. You can also search in our collection of Boston and Massachusetts vital records as well as federal census. Naturalization records are another useful source, as many immigrants strove to become American citizens, filing papers for their naturalization after their arrival.

    These records are provided in partnership with the JFK Trust. The original records are held at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in Washington, D.C.