Armenian Immigration Project
Ship Lists

Research Methodology
Related Projects
Work in Progress
Other Links & Resources


During the period from the late 1800s to the outbreak of World War I in 1914, over 50,000 Armenians immigrated from their homeland to North America. Most of them came from the Ottoman Empire (eastern Turkey) to New York's Ellis Island (which opened in 1892). Some were in transit to Canada (primarily to manufacturing towns like Brantford and Hamilton in Ontario); others were destined for manufacturing jobs in the USA in places like New York City, Providence, RI, Troy, NY, E. St. Louis/Granite City, IL, and Detroit, MI, or to settle in rich farmland like California's San Joaquin Valley. These immigrants were predominantly men, many of whom went back and forth between North America and their Armenian homeland several times. Almost all of them traveled in 3rd class, or steerage. Some wives and children also came to join their husbands and fathers and settle in North America.

As the conditions for Armenians in the Ottoman Empire worsened during the period between the 1890s and 1908 (culminating in the "Young Turk" revolution and the Adana massacre) and the Balkan conflicts of 1912-1913, the number of Armenian immigrants to North American increased significantly. With the outbreak of World War I on 28 July 1914, immigration of Armenians to North America slowed to a trickle. Most Armenian men in the USA and Canada were unable to return to Turkey to their families. The Armenian Genocide of 1915-1916 resulted in the eventual deaths of the majority of Armenians then living in the Ottoman Empire and the ethic depopulation of the Armenian communities in the six traditional Armenian vilayets of eastern Turkey (Van, Bitlis, Erzurum, Diyarbekir, Sivas, and Mamuretulaziz). After the end of the War in 1918, some of those few who survived the massacres managed to join their families in North America and Europe.

With the destruction of the Armenian homeland, most of the civil and ecclesiastical records were lost forever. This makes it very difficult for many Armenians living today to learn about their family's genealogical and historical background. Fortunately, there are rich primary sources of historical information pertaining to Armenian immigrants to North America in the form of ship manifests, census records, World War I draft registrations, vital records, naturalization records, etc.

This web site introduces a new historical research project (started in 2011) to transcribe the manifests of the passenger ships bringing Armenian immigrants to North America. In 2001, inspired by the works of Robert Mirak (Torn Between Two Lands) and Isabel Kaprielian-Churchill (Like Our Mountains, A History of Armenians in Canada), I transcribed 2,664 ship manifest entries for Armenians from the district of Keghi in the vilayet of Erzurum. (My paternal grandfather Dicran Arslanian came to the USA in 1906 from the village of Sergevil in that district.) I have now expanded that project to begin transcribing ship manifests for all those of Armenian heritage coming to America.

Based on Robert Mirak's count of over 50,000 Armenian immigrants prior to the start of World War I in 1914, plus the approximately 25,000 more who immigrated between then and 1924, transcribing that many ship manifest entries will be a monumental task, involving many people over several years. To initiate that process, I have created software tools to facilitate the collaborative transcription of these records, ship by ship, as well as the analysis of the data to produce a number of standard reports to present this information in a useful and interesting fashion. The results of this endeavor can then be correlated with similar efforts to transcribe other significant primary sources like USA and Canadian census records. The overall objective is to provide a reference to allow those of Armenian descent in North America to identify their immigrant ancestors and relatives to learn more about their heritage and linkage to the Armenian ancestral homeland.

At this point, we have transcribed 28,040 entries (2,087 "ship trips" searched, 1,520 of those with Armenians on board) containing Armenian immigrants to North America. This represents approximately 37% of the estimated 75,000 Armenian immigrants to North America during the time period of this study. The reports (below) were generated based on 25,006 entries (2,027 "ship trips" searched, 1,460 of those with Armenians on board). Reports will be updated again after we reach about 30,000 entries. It is my hope that others will "adopt" a ship and assist with the transcription. On this page, I have provided a spreadsheet template to be used to transcribe the data in a standard format. By selecting and transcribing entries in a systematic fashion, ship by ship and trip by trip, we can track our progress and continue to produce results regularly.

Most of the Armenian immigrants traveled in the lowest class of accommodation (steerage). The layout of the passenger berths varied from ship to ship. Single men and women were (obviously) kept in separate sections, while another section was reserved for families. On some of the ship manifests, a sketch of the layout of the steerage section was provided for that trip. Here are some examples.

S. S. La Touraine (sailing from Le Havre, France to New York, NY, USA) with layout of steerage section from 1896

S. S. La Champagne (sailing from Le Havre, France to New York, NY, USA) with layout of steerage section from 1896

Research Methodology

The methodology for this study to transcribe and analyze ship passenger manifests consists of the following steps:

1. Select list to be transcribed.
2. Locate list and transcribe entries of Armenian passengers to a spreadsheet.
3. Copy the transcribed entries into a database.
4. Analyze the new data:
   a. Standardize place names (towns/districts, states/provinces, countries, streets).
   b. Standardize last names (surnames).
5. Generate reports.
6. Upload reports to web site.

A significant amount of information can be gleaned from the manifests. The detail on the earlier manifest forms was minimal, but the later forms, particularly after 1907, contained a lot of data relating to the immigrant's life in both the old and new worlds. The following report shows the types of information that are available and how I have presented the information in the reports.

Example of report (click for larger image)

The report above (ShipImmigrants-ByImmigrantNameStd) is a detailed listing of all immigrants in the database, arranged by the "standardized" last name, then by first name. Why the standardized last name? The ship passenger manifests were standard forms that were filled out by the shipping companies at the port of origin prior to embarking on the voyage (typically from Europe) to North America. These manifests were prepared by employees of the shipping companies and then presented to the immigration authorities (e.g., at Ellis Island in New York) at the destination port when disembarking, so that they could process the immigrants.

As you can imagine, recording a family name like into a Latin script can yield a number of different spelling variations, like Hakobian, Akobyan, Akobian, Hagopyan, Hagopian, Agopyan, Agopian, Acopyan, Acopian, Akopyan, etc. (The English equivalent would be Jacobson.) When transcribing the manifests, I record the names exactly as written to preserve the original transliteration. However, there is value in grouping similar names together in the reports so that you can find your immigrant or, perhaps, groups of related immigrants. For each surname, I have attached a "standardized" version of that surname (in brackets), typically based on the most common spelling found in North America or Europe for "western" Armenians (those from the former Ottoman Empire). Those same surnames are often transliterated differently for those immigrants from the part of Armenia formerly under Russian dominion ("eastern Armenians"), where the present-day country of Armenia exists. Since most of the Armenian immigrants to North America of the late 1800s and early 1900s were of the "western" variety, I've chosen to standardize the surnames with that dialect. This is not to say that the standardized name is more correct than other spellings; it is just a way to group names together that have the same etymology and were probably spelled the same in Armenian.

I have made no attempt to standardize the first names. They are transcribed exactly as spelled (or, more often, misspelled) in the original manifest.

Likewise, spelling of place names on the lists varied significantly, both the names in the immigrant's homeland as well as their destination in North America. For those ships leaving from France, the place names were often spelled the way that French would write or pronounce the name: Alexandrie for Alexandria, or Keri/Kighi/Curry/Khegi/Kigi for Keghi. American street names and names of cities were similarly subject to variation in spelling. So, I standardized all place names in the database. For the immigrant's birthplace or place of last residence, or the location of the "leaving" friend or relative, the place name given was often the nearest large city or district (kaza). If these places were in the part of the Ottoman Empire that corresponds to present-day Turkey or the Middle East (Syria and Mesopotamia), I determined the Ottoman vilayet at the time of immigration and included that in the database. The administrative divisions in the Ottoman Empire in the period just prior to World War 1 were (in order of increasing size): kaza, sanjak, vilayet. A kaza corresponds to a county in the USA and Canada, while a vilayet is the equivalent of a state or province. The sanjak is roughly analogous to a region of a state/province, perhaps California's Central Valley.

For place names, it was not always possible to distinguish between the name of a town or kaza or sanjak and the vilayet in which it was located, if they were the same name (e.g., Erzurum, Sivas, Adana, Aleppo, Bitlis, Van, Mamuretulaziz, etc.). Someone who gave their place of birth as Sivas may actually have been referring to the vilayet and not the town/kaza/sanjak. In these reports, where this ambiguity occurs, I have shown the name as that of the vilayet (e.g., Sivas, Turkey), but keep in mind that the actual town/kaza/sanjak may be somewhere else in the vilayet than the administrative capital (like Gurun in the case of Sivas). The form of the place names in Turkey in these reports is usually shown as "kaza, vilayet, Turkey" (e.g., "Keghi, Erzurum, Turkey"). If the name of the town or village is given in the record, I'll show it in the form "Keghi (Sergevil), Erzurum, Turkey", meaning the village of Sergevil in the kaza of Keghi, in the vilayet of Erzurum, in Turkey. I omit sanjak names in this hierarchy, in the interest of simplicity and space (the exception being autonomous sanjaks like Urfa and Marash).

Ottoman Vilayets (ca. 1900) from Wikipedia (click on picture to go to web site)

By 1907, the immigrants were asked to provide information about themselves (name, age, sex, occupation, place of last permanent residence, birthplace, whether they had been in the USA or Canada previously, etc.), the name and location of the "nearest relative or friend in country whence alien came", and "whether going to join a relative or friend" in North America. The street address, city, and state/province of that "joining" relative or friend was recorded. This linkage of "leaving" friend or relative to the immigrant to the "joining" friend or relative is one of the useful features of the manifests, information rarely found in other documents, perhaps the last recorded linkage to their places of origin and to those who perished in the Armenian Genocide (1915-1916). There are a number of other fields on the forms that are not included in this transcription, but may be worth investigating later for a particular individual.

To allow the immigrants to be referenced individually (perhaps from another database), I have assigned to each immigrant a unique "Immigrant ID" (below). This ID can be used to easily find that immigrant on the appropriate ship list. On the reports, I have indicated the Immigrant ID of the "joining" friend or relative (if known) in brackets after that person's name. Sometimes the "leaving" friend or relative subsequently immigrated themselves, in which case their Immigrant ID is listed in brackets after their name. Sometimes immigrants had already been in the USA or Canada previously. Other Immigrant IDs for that person are also shown in brackets after the Immigrant ID for the listed trip.

Layout of Immigrant ID

Several different ship manifest forms were used by USA immigration, depending on the year of the trip and the immigration legislation then in effect. The forms differ in the types of questions asked of the immigrants. In general, the later forms contain more useful information. Form 500, which came into use in early 1907, has two pages of questions, with 30 immigrants per page. Sometimes additional information was written or stamped on the form, including in the margins, by the immigration officials at the destination port (e.g., Ellis Island in New York). See A Guide to Interpreting Passenger List Annotations (by Marian L. Smith, Historian, U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service). For example, "S. I." means that the immigrant was held for "Special Inquiry" (often for a medical condition). A small number of immigrants were deported (sent back to Europe on the next ship). (Often, that same immigrant took another ship back to North America a short time later.)

These form numbers (below) are not the official designations. They are just the informal labels I've used for the different types of forms. (Click on the thumbnail image for each form to get a higher resolution image where you can view the format in detail.)

Form 3717
"Form 3717"

Form 414
"Form 414"

Form 1734
"Form 1734"

Form 2202
"Form 2202"

Form 1500
"Form 1500"

Form 1500 (Type 2)
"Form 1500 (Type 2)"

Form 500 (Page 1 of 2)
"Form 500 (Page 1 of 2)"

Form 500 (Page 2 of 2)
"Form 500 (Page 2 of 2)"

Form 630
"Form 630 (List of United States Citizens)"

Original images of the ship passenger manifests can be found at these sites. requires a fee subscription, but the search capability and image viewers are worth it. The Ellis Island site is free. Stephen P. Morse has created some powerful search tools for several of the immigrant sites: Stephen P. Morse Search Tools - Immigration & Travel
Ellis Island Foundation

For each ship that brought Armenian immigrants to North America, one spreadsheet (or workbook) will be created to record entries from that ship's passenger manifests for all trips, one sheet within the workbook per trip. The destination date of each trip is used as the label for the sheet's tab. At the back of the workbook are individual template sheets for each of the form types (above). Here are sample data entry workbooks I have created (in both .ods and .xls formats):

Sample Input Form (OpenDocument format, .ods)
Sample Input Form (Microsoft Excel format, .xls)

Once a trip is recorded for a ship (one with Armenian immigrants), a program (written in Open Object Rexx, or ooRexx) converts the transcriptions into a "comma-separated variable" (.csv) text file, which is then imported into the project database. The database I am using is IBM Lotus Notes. I have written several routines in LotusScript to "massage" the data and create export files (.csv) for reporting. These export files are then imported back into another Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. Macros within Microsoft Excel (written in Visual BASIC, or VBA) then format the spreadsheets, and reports are written to a Portable Document Format (.pdf) file and uploaded to this web site. (The Acrobat Reader viewer for .pdf files can be downloaded for free from Adobe.)


The following reports are based on the current set of data (using the immigrant entries that have been transcribed and processed so far). Some reports are detailed (showing all of the information for each immigrant entry); other reports are summarized. You may wish to start with the summary reports and then drill down to the corresponding detailed report. (If you have ideas for other report formats, please let me know.) The number of people mentioned in these records (immigrants, those they are leaving, and those they are joining) totals over 48,000 individuals. (There are, of course, many people listed more than once.)

These immigrants traveled mostly (93.6%) in 3rd-class (steerage). They were predominantly (74.5%) male. The most common destination state/province was New York (28.8%), followed closely by Massachusetts (28.3%), with New York City (and its boroughs) (22.1%) being the city receiving the most Armenian immigrants. The top destination street was Common Street in Lawrence, Massachusetts (1.6%), with 98 Common Street (0.9%) being the most popular address. The Ottoman vilayet of Mamuretulaziz (where the city of Harput is located) was the most common place of last permanent residence (22.8%). (Most of the ships whose lists have been searched so far originated in French ports. A broader sampling including other ships from other points of origin will give use a more complete picture.)

Ship Immigrants Name Index (Summary)
Ship Immigrants Name Index

Ship Immigrants by Birthplace (Summary)
Ship Immigrants by Birthplace
Ship Immigrants by Destination Date (Summary)
Ship Immigrants by Destination Date
Ship Immigrants by Immigrant Name (Summary)
Ship Immigrants by Immigrant Name
Ship Immigrants by Joining Location (Summary)
Ship Immigrants by Joining Location
Ship Immigrants by Joining Name
Ship Immigrants by Last Residence (Summary)
Ship Immigrants by Last Residence
Ship Immigrants by Leaving Name
Ship Immigrants Summary by Birthplace
Ship Immigrants Summary by Last Residence
Ship Immigrants Summary by Joining Address & Location
Ship Immigrants Summary by Ship
Ship Immigrants Summary by Occupation (Male)

Ship Immigrants Search Results
This is a listing of the ships and trips that have been searched so far, indicating whether they have been included in the reports shown above.

Export of Entire Database
This .csv file (which uses semicolons to delimit the fields) contains the entire database used to generate the reports shown above. You may import this file into your own spreadsheet program or database to create your own reports or do your own analysis.


As I've stated earlier, transcribing over 75,000 entries is too big for one person to accomplish alone (particularly one with a full-time job). I am seeking volunteers with experience using spreadsheets (Microsoft Excel), who have an eye for detail, are particular about accuracy and can follow a predefined format, have an intellectual curiousity about history and people, with a lot of patience. (Reading these entries can be a bit tedious; break up your work into bite-sized chunks.) If someone wants to just try out transcribing a trip or two to see how it goes, I'd be happy to assign one to you. Perhaps you can transcribe the trips on which your immigrant ancestors came to North America.

In many of the ship lists, the immigrants were grouped by ethnicity, so most of the Armenians are listed on the same page or adjoining pages, mostly in steerage. When transcribing a trip, it is important to read all list pages for that trip (including Saloon/First-Cabin and Second-Cabin), just to make sure we've found all the Armenians and can check that trip (for that ship) off our list. I'll put your initials by that trip in the Ship Immigrants Search Results listing to acknowledge your contribution.

Getting used to the handwriting (letters and numerals) and being able to make out the place names and personal names takes some practice. Being somewhat familiar with Armenian surnames and given names, as well has having a working knowledge of geography (North American, European, and the Middle East) are important. I suggest getting together on the phone the first time to step through one page together. That way, I can acquaint you with the format of the original manifest form, my spreadsheet form, and my standards for data entry. (My ooRexx program that extracts the data from the spreadsheet into a .csv file expects the data to be input a particular way. Also, some fields need to be entered verbatim (exactly as shown on the manifest); others (like names of countries and USA and Canadian cities and states/provinces) can be adjusted to the standard spelling and abbreviations. USA and Canadian street addresses have to be entered in a particular format. The field descriptions and data entry instructions can be found in the rightmost sheet entitled "Data Entry Instructions" in the data entry spreadsheet.

Please send me an e-mail if you are interested in helping. This is a project I do in my spare time, so please understand if it takes me awhile to respond. Once a few of you get proficient in transcribing the data, I may ask you to help me bring others on board, get them acquainted with the process, and review their work. By dividing and conquering, we should be able to make good progress, while maintaining integrity of the data entered.

Related Projects

I have begun work on other databases to complement the Ship Lists. One involves the World War 1 draft registrations for men of "fighting age" living in the USA in 1917 and 1918, and Attestation Papers for men in Canada joining the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF). This database is especially useful in that the records occasionally provide the village of birth of the registrant, or the name and last known residence of their nearest relative (sometimes a wife in the "Old Country"). Another database is that of marriages of Armenians in the USA and Canada through the middle 1920s. The marriage records are especially important in that they often provide the names of the parents of the bride and groom (often including the maiden surnames of their mothers). Many of these men and women I was able to tie back to the Ship List database. When we can find the same individual represented in multiple primary sources of that era, it often provides a much more complete picture of that individual. Eventually, other sources should be included, such as naturalization applications, passports, censuses, etc.

Some reports are detailed (showing all of the information for each individual entry); other reports are summarized. You may wish to start with the summary reports and then drill down to the corresponding detailed report. (If you have ideas for other report formats, please let me know.)

Note the I have standardized the surnames as with the Ship List database to combine those names that are very similar phonetically or share a common root (e.g., Arslanian = Arslanian, Aslanian, Arslan, Aslan, Lion, etc.). This does not imply that the standardized surnames are any more "correct" than the others; it is just a way to group together possibly related individuals.

WW1 Draft Registration & Attestation:

WW1 Draft Registration & Attestation by Registration County (Summary)
WW1 Draft Registration & Attestation by Registration County
WW1 Draft Registration & Attestation by Registrant Name (Summary)
WW1 Draft Registration & Attestation by Registrant Name
WW1 Draft Registration & Attestation by Birthplace (Summary)
WW1 Draft Registration & Attestation by Birthplace
WW1 Draft Registration & Attestation by Home Address (Summary)
WW1 Draft Registration & Attestation by Home Address
WW1 Draft Registration & Attestation by Nearest Relative Name (Summary)
WW1 Draft Registration & Attestation by Nearest Relative Name
WW1 Draft Registration & Attestation by Nearest Relative Address (Summary)
WW1 Draft Registration & Attestation by Nearest Relative Address

The draft registration cards consist of three different types (A, B, and C), each slightly differing in the information presented. See WW1-Draft-FieldsbyCardType.pdf. For example, registrants with card type A (typically registered on 5-Jun-1917) did not record their nearest relative's name and address, while registrants with card type C (typically 12-Sep-1918) listed the nearest relative's information, but not their own place of birth. Keep this in mind when analyzing the reports. For more information on the card types and information presented on each, see United States, World War One Draft Registration Cards (FamilySearch Historical Records).


Marriages by Marriage Place, Groom Name
Marriages by Marriage Place, Groom Name (Summary)
Marriages by Marriage Place, Bride Name (Summary)

Work in Progress

There are a number of other excellent primary sources of information on Armenian immigrants to North America, including censuses, World War 2 draft registrations (USA only, for men born between 1877 and 1897), naturalization documents, etc. I have just begun to abstract some of these, but have not created databases and reports yet. Over the next year I will incorporate them into the Related Projects section of this web page. Here are samples for some locations: Madison County (Granite City) and St. Clair County (E. St. Louis), Illinois. I may do Fresno County and Tulare County, California next.

Naturalization Documents:

Declaration of Intention - Granite City, Madison County, IL

Be sure to click the links to the right of the entries to view signed photographs of the applicants! (The photograph was included on this application starting in the 1930s.) Here are some of them:

Oghayeg (John) Kakligian  Dzaghig (Florence) Tatosian  Dikran Malmoulian  Eva Mouradian 


1910 - Madison County, IL
1920 - Madison County, IL
1930 - Madison County, IL
1940 - Madison County, IL

1900 - St. Clair County, IL
1910 - St. Clair County, IL
1920 - St. Clair County, IL
1930 - St. Clair County, IL
1940 - St. Clair County, IL

World War 2 Draft Registations (USA):

Madison County, IL
St. Clair County, IL

Other Links & Resources

Armenian DNA Project (Peter Hrechdakian, Hovann Simonian, & Mark Arslan, Administrators)
Armenian Immigrants to the USA & Canada from Keghi, Erzeroum, Armenia (by Mark Arslan, 2001)
Vilayets of the Ottoman Empire
houshamadyan - A project to reconstruct Ottoman Armenian town and village life
Aram - An archives of books and manuscripts relating to Armenians (written in French and Armenian)
ISTG - Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild

- Torn Between Two Lands, by Robert Mirak (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1983)
- Like Our Mountains, A History of Armenians in Canada, by Isabel Kaprielian-Churchill (Montreal & Kingston, Canada: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2005)
- Armenia, A Historical Atlas, by Robert H. Hewsen (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 2001)
- The Armenian Genocide, A Complete History, by Raymond Kévorkian (New York, NY: I. B. Tauris, 2011)

A Guide to Interpreting Passenger List Annotations (by Marian L. Smith, Historian, U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service) - Immigration & Travel
Ellis Island Foundation
Stephen P. Morse Search Tools


First of all, I'd like to acknowledge my father's 1st-cousins Kevork "George" Arslanian and Hamazasp "Harry" Arslanian and their families for helping me learn about my Armenian heritage in the early 1970s. George and Harry (and Harry's wife Alice Baronian) patiently took the time to answer my numerous letters with question after question. My father's 2nd-cousins Vaskin "Vincent" Arslanian and Levon "Leon" Arslanian were also very helpful in sharing their memories of our family and their knowledge of the relationships. Without their help, much of the knowledge of my Arslanian family origins would have been lost forever.

Robert Mirak and Isabel Kaprielian-Churchill later inspired me with their fascinating works on the subject of Armenian immigration to North America. Reading their books spurred my interest in reading through the Ellis Island (New York) ship lists to try to identify immigrants from my paternal grandfather's district in the vilayet of Erzurum. During that project (in 2001), I met a number of other Armenians (some related to me) with similar interests who were willing to offer advice and information. I'd like to acknowledge them as well.

Robert Hewsen's wonderful book Armenia, A Historical Atlas has proven invaluable in helping me locate places in late 19th- and early 20th-century historical Armenia. I am still fascinated by the maps and historical references in that beautiful volume.

More recently, through Peter Hrechdakian and Hovann Simonian and the Armenian DNA Project, I have been made aware of a much larger community of people with interest in Armenian history and genealogy. This has expanded my interest beyond just my own family's corner of (Ottoman) Armenia. I'm hoping that kicking off this ship list transcription project can eventually provide a lasting scholarly contribution to our knowledge of the Armenian people.

If you find this information useful and would like to contribute a small (or bigger) amount to help fund this research, please consider selecting one of the options below. This helps me pay for subscriptions to web sites (e.g.,, reference materials (maps, books), supplies (paper, ink, binders, folders), time, and travel.

Amount to Contribute

If you would like to comment on any information contained within, please send me an e-mail message at: Additions and corrections are greatly appreciated.

Mark B. Arslan

© Mark B. Arslan, 2014
All Rights Reserved
No part of this website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied, modified or adapted, without the prior written consent of the author, unless otherwise indicated for stand-alone materials.

You may share this website by any of the following means:

1. Providing a back-link or the URL of the content you wish to disseminate; or
2. You may quote extracts from the website with attribution to

For any other mode of sharing, please contact the author at the e-mail
Commercial use and distribution of the contents of the website is not allowed without express and prior written consent of the author.

Last updated on 13 April 2014