Passenger Lists: Manifest Markings

This week I am highlighting some random facts about passenger lists.  Today’s random question: did you ever wonder what all those scribbles are on the manifest?

The best information I have ever found on the various markings is at Manifest Markings hosted on Jewish Gen.  If you have immigrant ancestors and have not seen this site, you are in for a delightful learning experience.  You’ll learn all about the miscellaneous letters, numbers, and checkmarks that fill up every square inch of the arrival record.

If you’ve been searching for immigrant ancestors in the passenger lists, you may have noticed that some names have dates and numbers that appear to be added around the name in a different handwriting.  Often these are records of naturalization proceedings for the immigrant.

A passenger's record of nauralization years after his arrival in the U.S.

A passenger's record of nauralization years after his arrival in the U.S.

Another useful bit of information is the casual X that marks the spot next to some passengers names, but not all.  If you see an X next to your immigrant’s name, that is a sign that they were detained at the port for some reason.  Often, if you scroll to the very end of the ship’s lists, you may find more info on why they were detained or for how long.

This is a detainee list at the end of a ship's arrival records.  The last entry shows my great-grandfather with his brothers, sister, and brother-in-law.

This is a detainee list at the end of a ship's arrival records. The last entry shows my great-grandfather with his brothers, sister, and brother-in-law.

In the above instance, my great-granfather and his family were detained because his older brother had a physical deformity.  Fearing he would be a “LPC” or Likely Public Charge (unable to work and required to live off of government assistance), he needed to be examined by a doctor.  Also, two of the boys were under 16 years old and traveling with their older sister and her husband.

This case was a “special inquiry” and they were detained for several days. But most of the detainees were simply held to telegraph for money so that they could travel to their final destination.

Overall, this is a very useful site to help you get a better understanding of the passenger arrival records as well as the process that the immigrant had to go through in order to enter the country.

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