• Immigrants awaiting inspection in front of Ellis Island's Main Building

    Ellis Island

    Part of Statue of Liberty National Monument NJ,NY

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  • Ellis Island is open on a limited basis while repairs continue.

    Ellis Island has reopened on a limited basis. Due to the nature of the destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy, parts of the historic Main Building and museum remain closed at this time. The museum's artifacts remain in off-site storage. More »

Looking for Your Ancestor?

Immigrants arriving at Ellis Island
Landing at Ellis Island 1902.
(Photo taken by the Maltine Company)
Library of Congress

Did Your Ancestor Come Through Ellis Island?

Today, a good percentage of American citizens are related to at least one of the 12 million+ people who immigrated through Ellis Island. If your relative passed through Ellis between 1892 (when Ellis Island opened) and 1924, you can look for their immigration records* in one of two ways:

1) When you visit Ellis Island, you can go to the American Family Immigration History Center (AFIHC), operated by the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc. For a nominal fee, the people in AFIHC will put you on a computer so you can search for your relative.

2) You can also gain access to this same database by going to www.ellisisland.org on your home computer.

Please keep in mind that you will need more than just a name to find the person you are looking for. Additional helpful information includes:

- The year of their arrival (or a small range of years);

- The name of the ship they traveled on;

- Alternate spellings of names;

- The names of other people traveling with them (relatives, etc.). These names will probably be grouped together, and can help you determine if a particular name is the name you are looking for.

If your ancestors did not come through Ellis Island between 1892 and 1924, you will not be able to search for their records when you visit us. Records do exist, it's just that our database does not include them. Here are some helpful suggestions and a list of other resources that can help you search for your family.

*The immigration records on this database are the ship manifests created by the shipping companies. "Ship manifests" are another way of saying "Passenger lists". If you are looking for other kinds of records, the link above will give a list of other resources.

Did You Know?

Ellis Island main building

Ellis Island was added as part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument in 1965 by Presidential Proclamation. The main building was re-opened in September 1990 as the national museum of immigration after what was considered at the time, the largest restoration project in American history.