Searching the Castle Garden Database in One Step
Frequently Asked Questions

Stephen P. Morse , San Francisco

Note: This FAQ page was written for my Castle Garden search form.  But since many of the questions and answers apply to my search forms for the other ports as well, this same FAQ page is shared by all of them.  If you got here by clicking on the FAQ button on one of those other forms, you'll have to take some of these answers with a grain of salt.


 100 General
 200 Search Parameters


101. Question removed because it is no longer relevant.

102. Why do I need to log on to before I can use your search form?

I do not have a searchable database on my website.  But does, and they have a search engine that can search for people in that database.  They make this available on a subscription basis.  All my search form does is direct you to the search engine.  So you'll need to log on at the site in order to be able to use their search engine.

103. How do I use your search form if I am at a library (or at NARA) that has a subscription to

If you are at such a library, you never explicitly log on to  Instead you get to by going through a sequence of webpages, and once there you are automatically logged on.  Your librarian will show you how to do this.  After you've done this once, you will be able to use my search form.

You need to be aware if the library connection gets you to or  If the latter, you need to tell my website about that.  See "Using Ancestry from a library" for more details.

104. What are the advantages of your one-step search form over the search form on the website

There are more fields that you can search on.  The particular added fields depend on the port you are have selected.  You can also easily switch arrival ports from my form and keep searching for the same passenger in the different ports.

See the 200 section of questions for more details on specific fields

105. Question removed since it is no longer relevant.

106. My grandfather's name was ... and he came through the Port of ... in 19..  Can you find his record for me?

I don't have the time to do individual research for all the people who write and ask me to do so.  And for free no less!  But I will answer any questions you have regarding the use of my website.  Beyond that, it's up to you to put in the legwork to find your grandfather.

I have several search forms for the various ports.  There is a white form and a gold form that search the Ellis Island arrivals and does not require a subscription.  There is another that searches the Castle Garden arrivals and does not require a subscription either.  There is yet another that searches the Galveston arrivals without a subscription.  Furthermore there is this search form that searches several ports of arrival and uses, so it does require a subscription.  Use any combination of these forms to try to find your grandfather.  If you can't find him by doing such searches, I probably wouldn't be able to find him for you either.


201. What's the minimum amount of information that I need to enter?  Which fields are required?

There is no minimum, and none of the fields are required.  In fact, you can leave the entire field blank in which case you will find all passengers in the database.

202. The search form has a port-of-arrival field.  Why don't you have such a field on your form?

For the life of me, I can't understand why they have that field.  Since this is the list of New York Passenger Arrivals (assuming you are using the All-NY-Arrivals form), where do you think they arrived?

203. What do you mean by "other" in the gender field?  How many genders are there?

There should be only two -- male and female.  But ironically there are some strange entries in the database for this field.

Of the 1,624,072 passengers in the Philadelphia Arrivals database, 885,450 are listed as "male" and 553,106 as "female".  That leaves 185,516 others.  Of those others, 109 are listed "child", 65 as "infant", 1 as "baby", 11 as "lade" or "ladi" but none as "lass", 21 as "labourer" or "laborer" or "labr", 2 as "none" (with names like Ellen and Martha), etc.  I don't know what other oddities are lurking in the gender field, so that's why I give you the ability to enter any value of your choice.

204. What do you mean by "Destination"?  Isn't that the port of arrival port, such as New York?

New York might have been the arrival port but that was not necessarily the final destination of the passenger.  For example, the passenger might have arrived in New York and planned on traveling on to Pennsylvania.  In that case Pennsylvania would be entered in the database as his destination.

205. Why do you have both a range of arrival years and an exact date of arrival?

That lets you do some very interesting searches.  For example, you might know that your ancestor arrived in July because the family remembers that he arrived on his birthday, but you don't know which July.  So you can search for all years between 1860 and 1870 for example, and enter July for the exact month.

206. When I search for someone who is 11 years old, why am I finding a person who is 5 years and 11 months?

That's an idiocyncracy of the search engine.  It will find anybody who has the number 11 in the age field, whether it is for years or for months.  There is no way that I can tell them to do otherwise.

-- Steve Morse