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Source Information

Philadelphia Jewish Archives Center and Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Philadelphia, comp. Philadelphia Bank Immigrant Passage Records, 1890-1949 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2008.
Original data:

  • People's Bank. Prepaid steamship ticket record, 1906-1948. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

  • Blitzstein Steamship Company. Ticket purchase books and index, 1899-1930. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

  • Rosenbaum Steamship Company. Ticket purchase books, 1890-1934. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

  • This data is provided in partnership with JewishGen.org.

    About Philadelphia Bank Immigrant Passage Records, 1890-1949

    Historical Background:

    In the port cities on the east coast of the United States in the late 19th and early 20th century, many charitable organizations aided immigrants arriving from Europe. The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) was one of those organizations. There were "ethnic" or "immigrant" banks in many port cities, usually conveniently located in the Jewish neighborhoods where newly-arrived immigrants tended to settle. These banks were commercial enterprises, started mainly by established German Jews, as a place where recent immigrants could save money and arrange to purchase steamship tickets to bring their families to the United States. HIAS preserved the original records of some immigrant banks formerly operating in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Blitzstein, Rosenbaum and Lipshutz/Peoples Banks.

    Today, the record books of the Blitzstein Bank, Rosenbaum Bank, and Lipshutz Bank are housed at the Philadelphia Jewish Archives Center (PJAC). They offer unique kinds of information, including the name and U.S. address of the person who paid for the tickets, port of entry - usually, but not always the port of Philadelphia – and intended final destination (again, not necessarily Philadelphia).

    About the Records:

    Lipshutz/Peoples Bank

    There are approximately 23,690 records from the Lipshutz Bank, covering the following years. The records in the earlier years (up through 1930~1935) were mainly purchased for immigration. In the later records, many are for travelers who used the "Bank" to purchase tickets for cruises, other vacations of many kinds, and train travel within the US.

      YearDates
      1907Jan-Oct
      1909only 3 records
      1910-1913Jan-Dec
      1914Jan-Oct
      1915Jan-Feb, Jun, Aug-Dec
      1916Jan-May, Oct-Dec
      1917Jan-Mar
      1918Jul
      1919Apr-Dec
      1920-1941Jan-Dec
      1942only 4 records
      1944only 6 records
      1945only 6 records
      194670 records
      194719 records
      1948only 1 record
      1949only 1 record

    Information you are likely to find:

    • Date - the date an account was opened to save money, or an order was placed, or tickets purchased

    • Order Number - Assigned by bank

    • Name and age of passenger(s)

    • Where the passenger is coming from (possibly name, street address, town, country of original home)

    • Ports of embarkation and of arrival

    • Names of ship and ship line

    • Name and address of ticket purchaser

    • Remarks - often there is additional information about the passenger and/or the purchaser.

    Blitzstein Bank

    The records were indexed by the bank itself on 3" x 5" cards. Both the records and the index are housed at PJAC. There are approximately 18,000 cards with information on 30,912 passengers.

    Book Numbers cover the following date spans. The date of the record probably refers to the date the savings account was opened or a ticket purchased, perhaps several weeks or months before the passengers arrived. There is no Book #1.

      Book #Dates
      2Jun 1899-Apr 1902
      3Apr 1902-Dec 1903
      4Dec 1903-Nov 1904
      5Nov 1904-Jan 1906
      6Jan 1906-Aug 1906
      7Aug 1906-Oct 1907
      8Oct 1907-Dec 1909
      9Dec 1909-Jan 1911
      10Jun 1911-Jan 1913
      11Jan 1913- Feb 1914
      12Feb 1914-Dec 1921
      13Dec 1921-Dec 1930

    There are four fields: Surname, Given Name, Book Number, and Page Number.

    Rosenbaum Bank

    There are approximately 83,000 records, covering the following years:

      YearDates
      1890May-Dec
      1891-1900Jan-Dec
      1901Jan-Oct
      1902Jan-Oct
      1903Jan-Nov
      1904Jan-Sep
      1905-1927Jan-Dec
      1928Jan-Feb

    Although there may be records for January through December in the later years, in fact, there may only be a few for some months.

    The index contains only three fields: date of the transaction, passengers’ names, and purchasers’ names.

    Using the Database:

    You will need to know the name of an immigrant passenger and/or the name of a purchaser. If a ticket was purchased for that immigrant from one of the banks, your search will identify that passenger and associate the passenger’s name with a date or book and page number. Likewise, your search on the name of a purchaser will also lead to a date if the purchaser, already living in the U.S., used the bank to purchase a ticket for an immigrant. Many of the names listed as purchasers are actually employees of or agents for the Bank.

    You should then either visit the Philadelphia Jewish Archives Center or contact PJAC with this information and request a copy of the record.

    In addition, these records are available through the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, which has microfilmed the entire Blitzstein, Rosenbaum and Lipshutz/Peoples Bank record collections.

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