Passenger Lists and Manifests

Passenger Manifests, or Ships Manifests, are documents listing the passengers on the ship and is given to customs and other officials. The purpose of the manifest is to ensure that passengers listed were placed on board at the beginning of its passage and continue to be on board when it arrives at its destination. At least two alien passenger lists were generated, one by the Portuguese Consulate General of Portugal in Hawaiʻi and one by the Master of the ship, who was usually the captain.

The Portuguese government registered Portuguese citizens who signed contracts to travel to the Hawaiian Kingdom to work on the sugar plantations. The register is titled, CONSULADO GERAL DE PORTUGAL EM LIVRO DE MATRICULA DE CIDADAOS PORTUGUEZE (Consulate General of Portugal in Book of Registration of Portuguese Citizens).

Customs Passenger Arrival Lists of Alien Passengers were prepared and submitted by the captain or master of each vessel to the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) upon arrival at the port of Honolulu. Since 1874, collectors forwarded only statistical reports to the Treasury Department. The lists themselves were retained by the collector of customs. Customs records were maintained primarily for statistical purposes.

Earlier forms used for passenger arrival records were not standardized and differ in content between ship companies. Early passenger lists typically included the name of the ship, ports of arrival and departure, date, country of origin and destination, the names of passengers, ages, and occasionally occupation. The primary purpose of the officials who completed these passenger lists was to count the number of adult men and women either single or married who had contracts to work on the plantation. Also, the number of children under contract, children not under contract and infants.

Changes were made in 1893, after the illegal overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom government and in 1906 the federal government added 16 new fields relating to nationality, occupation, literacy, last permanent residence, final destination, financial status, whether in the US before, if going to join someone, ever in prison or institution for the insane, whether a polygamist, whether an Anarchist, condition of  mental and physical health, deformed or crippled, physical characteristics such as height, color of hair and eyes, marks of identification and place of birth.. More changes occurred in 1911, when name and address of passenger’s closest living relative in the country of origin was included.

Since all documents were handwritten it was difficult to read. Records were sloppy. Names were crossed out, names were written in, notes were added and most of the writings were illegible. Births, deaths and stowaways were not clearly identified. The records also contain erroneous information, misspelling of names, and incorrect ages of the individual. All information found in these documents should be verified by examining other records and documents. 

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