Galveston Immigration Database
Texas Seaport Museum has compiled the nation’s only computerized listing of immigrants to Galveston, Texas. The museum’s immigration exhibit features text and historic photographs illustrating Galveston’s role in immigration history and the major organized immigration movements of the 19th and 20th Centuries. Computer terminals in the exhibit area allow visitors to search for information taken from ships’ passenger manifests pertaining to their ancestors’ arrival in Texas. For your convenience, the database is also available online.
What information is provided? The database includes names of passengers and members of their traveling parties, age, gender, occupation, country of origin, ship name, dates of departure and arrival, and destination in the United States. Information is also provided for a small number of ship arrivals. The ship database includes ship name, type of ship, master, home port of ship, arrival date at Galveston, port of departure, destination port, tonnage, number of immigrants, ship owner, and citation source.
Searches of the Galveston Immigration Database are based on surnames - the family’s last name. The first data retrieved is a table of all the last names that match the last name of the search. If an exact match is not found, a table of names closest to the spelling of the search name will appear on the screen.
The passenger arrival records normally listed people traveling together as a single record, and included several first names. When these records were entered into the database, space limitations allowed a maximum of 7 names to be recorded as a single “family unit”. If there were more than 7 people in the traveling family unit, the information was split into two records. This explains why, if you find several people with the same last name, it is possible that when you view the record for that family, you will see the same family details page.
The majority of the people who came to Galveston were either single men, or wives with children. There were many complete families, but more often they came at different times. Usually, one of the male family members immigrated first, to make enough money to afford to send for the rest of the family.
How was this information gathered? The museum staff transferred records from microfilm of Department of Justice Immigration and Naturalization Service passenger manifests from the National Archives, books containing additional source material and isolated passenger lists published in The Galveston Daily News. Additional sources continue to be researched for future inclusion in the database.
In all, the names of more than 130,000 passengers from the period 1846-1948 have been entered. The database lists only those who first disembarked in Texas. Many immigrants came through New York or one of the other East Coast ports and trans-shipped to Texas. Family legend may hand down a Texas port of entry, while immigration records reflect an Eastern port.
Are the records complete? An unknown percentage of the records are missing; there are very few entries between 1871 and 1894.
Get answers to more frequently asked questions about the Galveston Immigration Database.