Find your ancestors in Massachusetts, Boston Crew Lists, 1917-1943

What can these records tell me?

These records come from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).

Each result will provide you with a transcript and image of the original crew list. Transcripts will include the following information:

  • First name(s)
  • Last name
  • Sex
  • Age
  • Birth year
  • Birth place or nationality
  • Year
  • Ship name
  • City
  • County
  • State
  • Country
  • Event type
  • NARA publication title (Crew Lists of Vessels Arriving at Boston, MA, 1917-1943)
  • NARA publication number (T938)
  • NARA roll
  • Film number

Images will often provide additional details such as an individual’s position in the ship’s company, race, nationality, height, weight, and physical marks or peculiarities, as well as when and where an individual was shipped or engaged and whether an individual could read and would be paid off or discharged at the port of arrival. You may even be able to view your ancestor’s signature, which was recorded on several of the original forms.

These records comprise the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) publication T938, which is composed of 269 rolls, entitled Crew Lists of Vessels Arriving at Boston, MA, 1917-1943. This publication is part of their larger collection of records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1891-1957.

These crew lists were created in compliance with section 36 of the United States Immigration Law of 1917, which said, in part, ‘that upon arrival of any vessel in the United States from any foreign port or place it shall be the duty of the owner, agent, consignee, or master thereof to deliver to the principal immigration officer in charge of the port of arrival lists containing the names of all aliens employed on such vessel, stating the positions they respectively hold in the ship’s company, when and where they were respectively shipped or engaged, and specifying those to be paid off and discharged in the port of arrival; or lists containing so much of such information as the Secretary of Labor shall by regulation prescribe’.

Additionally, subdivisions 3 (a) and (b) of Immigration Rule 10 also applied to the creation of these crew lists:

Manifesting, registering, and identifying.—(a) Arriving and departing seamen shall be manifested on the blank forms provided for that purpose by the department, in accordance with the terms of section 36. When an arriving seaman is a “workaway” a notation to that effect should be made upon the manifest. (b) Clearance shall not be granted any vessel until the lists required by section 36 have been furnished, and not then unless, noticed of liability to the administrative fine prescribed by said section or to that prescribed by section 35 having been served, the deposit specified in Rule 28 (subd. 2) has been made’.