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  My ancestor was a passenger on a ship

Ships’ passenger lists were drawn up by shipping companies to identify passengers on particular voyages. The information contained in passenger lists varies, depending on the recording habits of the company involved. Tracking down passenger lists for specific voyages or the names of individual passengers can involve time-consuming and painstaking research. In terms of ease of access, the whereabouts of a particular passenger list should be sought primarily from the relevant record office in the country of arrival. Very few passenger lists survive in Scotland.

Tracking down the list or ‘manifest’ handed in to the port authority at the country of arrival is your best chance of locating a passenger list. For vessels arriving in countries outside the UK you should check the relevant record office in the country concerned. Details on those in North America, Australia, and New Zealand are given in the answers to Frequently Asked Questions below. For vessels arriving in the UK from non-European ports, the Public Record Office (PRO) in London holds passenger lists for the period 1878-1960.  The PRO also holds passenger lists for vessels leaving the UK for destinations outside Europe for the period 1890-1960. They are not indexed, many are in a fragile condition, and require a lot of research time.

What to do now
The text above is a summary of a longer article on passenger lists in the SCAN Knowledge Base. You can read this by clicking here.

The Knowledge Base also contains answers to Frequently Asked Questions. Click on one of these for an answer compiled by Scotland's archivists, or click on the Knowledge Base for a wider selection.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where will I find the passenger list for someone who emigrated to:

1. America?

2. Canada?

3. Australia?

4. New Zealand?

To enter the Knowledge Base click here.