18 Jul 2003

Hello everyone,

New York City was a very busy port for ships. One of the difficult things about searching for ancestors arriving there is that the ships passenger lists aren't indexed from 1847 to 1896.

However I've been working on a project to transcribe the Alms House Admission Foreigners & Nativity Records ( New York City, NY) Bond Registers 1855-1858.

These records contain the names of individuals who were impoverished, and who sought help at the Almshouse. The transcribed records contain the place of birth of each individual as well as the name of the ship they sailed on to reach N. America. The year of arrival is also noted, and the ports of departure and arrival. This is a wonderful resource for the unindexed NY years!

Dating back to the colonial era, New York City assumed responsibility for its citizens who were destitute, sick, homeless, or otherwise unable to care for themselves. The city maintained an almshouse, various hospitals, and a workhouse on Blackwell's Island (now called Roosevelt Island) for the poor.

The information fields are: Date of Admission, Name, Age, Nativity, Time of Arrival, Port Sailed From, Port Arrived At, Ship, Captain, Married or Single, Who Can Identify Them, How Many Times on The Island, Remarks

The index to the records can be found at


Here is an example of the kinds of information found in the Almshouse records:

In Mar 1856 John Coleman, age 15, single, from Ireland applied for relief. He told the clerk of the Almshouse that sailed from Liverpool on the Ship Ontario, arriving on 19 Dec. 1855 in New York. He didn't know the Captain's name, and had no one to vouch for him from New York City. It was his first time 'on the island" (meaning applying for relief). He was discharged in April 1856

Sometimes comments were added in the column for death or discharge dates. For example, poor Bridget Connor applied for relief on Apr 30, 1855. Bridget, 26, a spinster from Ireland told the clerk she sailed "about 20 months ago" from Tralee to Quebec.

Bridget gave her ship name as Payoo or Payne, Captain O'Donohan commanding. This was her third time on the island, and the clerk recorded "Stupid" beside her discharge date of 16 Jan. '57 (If you find an ancestor with such a notation, or "insane" , don't be alarmed - sometimes not knowing how to add was enough to be labeled as "stupid"!)

The places of origin and of arrival are not all New York.

Ports of arrival include Quebec, Boston, NY, Philadelphia, New Orleans, and more.

Places of origin include Ireland, Gilbraltar, Germany, England, Canada, Switzerland, Holland and more

Start your search of these free records at http://www.rootsweb.com/~ote/ships/ny_alms1855.htm

Surnames F, M, Mc, S and W were added today. A big thank you goes to volunteer Nancy Profit for her hard work in transcribing those surnames.

This set of records adds to the existing records I have already transcribed and put online for the NYC Almshouse for

1819-1827 (with 1828 to 1840 to follow) starting at

I hope you enjoy this set of records; it's great fun reading and transcribing these wonderful entries!

Lorine McGinnis Schulze [otg@csolve.net]

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