Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Passenger Lists, 1883-1945
At the turn of the 20th Century, Philadelphia was one of the most important immigration ports in the United States despite being more than 100 miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean. Immigration to Philadelphia began in earnest when the Pennsylvania Railroad helped form the American Line shipping company. The American Line carried passengers from Liverpool, England, to Philadelphia. During the 1880s the American Line was offering as many as three sailings per week from Liverpool to Philadelphia. The Red Star Line, which also had ties to Philadelphia, connected Antwerp, Belgium, to Philadelphia but sailed less frequently than the American Line.
Philadelphia was a booming industrial complex with a demand for primarily skilled workers. Unskilled workers immigrating to Philadelphia from the Baltic or Eastern Europe would not settle in Philadelphia but immediately continue on to other cities throughout the United States with a higher demand for unskilled labor. Noting the importance of Philadelphia, both as an industrial center and a port of immigration, the Federal Government opened the National Quarantine Station, near Lewes, Delaware, in 1884. In 1893 the Federal Government opened another station at Reedy Island (approximately 45 miles south of Philadelphia). Eventually, passenger screening was consolidated to Marcus Hook in 1913 (only twenty miles from Philadelphia).
Noting the success of the American Line, larger shipping companies began to offer services from Europe to Philadelphia. In 1898, the giant Hamburg-America Line extended their Europe to Boston service, giving passengers the option to continue on to Philadelphia. Holland-America, Italia, and North German Lloyd lines all followed suit and began offering services from Europe to Philadelphia.
Immigration through Philadelphia peaked in the years prior to World War I, making Philadelphia the third most important immigration port in the United States by volume of passengers and a port of exceptional value to Jewish, Polish, and German immigrants. After World War I, the Immigration Act of 1924 set quotas and restrictions on immigration that brought an end to Philadelphia’s “Golden Era” of immigration.
- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Passenger List Card Index, 1883-1948 1,153,200 records
- Ellis Island and Other New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 113,439,614 records
- Passenger and Immigration Lists, 1500 - 1900 5,122,219 records
- Boston, Massachusetts, Passenger Lists, 1820-1891 894,949 records
- Baltimore, Maryland, Passenger List Card Index, 1820-1897 779,885 records
- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Passenger Lists, 1800-1882 489,486 records
Passenger Lists Pennsylvania