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The Blitzstein Bank Passage Order Book Records Database

for the Port of Philadelphia and Other US East Coast Ports

Compiled by the Philadelphia Jewish Archives Center and Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Philadelphia

· Background
· Using the Database
· The Blitzstein Records
· Obtaining copies of full entries
· Acknowledgements
· Searching the Database


During the immigration boom of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, various agencies including private community and state run banks sold steamship tickets to immigrants and their families, arranging for passage to and from America. Many of the private banks selling steamship tickets were referred to as immigrant banks and catered to specific immigrant communities and the neighborhoods they lived. Although steamship agents and immigrant banks in Philadelphia were plentiful, few records of their activities are known to have survived with the exception of four steamship agents who primarily served the Eastern European Jewish population. These four steamship agents--M. L. Blitzstein and Co., M. Rosenbaum and Co., Peoples Bank and Trust Company, and Rosenbluth Brothers--recorded the sale of tickets purchased by their customers in ledgers listing the sales transactions.

Unlike passenger lists which document an immigrant's entry into port, these ledgers record details about the purchase such as the name of the ticket purchaser, the individual(s) for whom tickets were purchased, the name of the steamship line, fees, and travel itinerary. These details reveal information about the passengers, the family members who were arranging passage, and the associated costs of travel. In 1951, HIAS and Council Migration Service of Philadelphia, formerly the Association for the Protection of Jewish Immigrants, an organization dedicated to providing legal and supportive services to immigrants and refugees acquired the steamship ticket purchase ledgers. HIAS Philadelphia utilized these ledgers to verify immigration information when assisting individuals with the naturalization process or facilitating passage for family members seeking asylum. From 1977 to 2009, the Philadelphia Jewish Archives Center (PJAC) administered the collection of steamship ticket purchase ledgers. In June 2009, Temple University Libraries acquired HIAS Philadelphia's archived records and the collection of ledgers. Indexes to the ledgers from three of Philadelphia’s steamship agents are available as searchable databases on JewishGen.

Using the Index

The Blitzstein index contains three fields of information for an entry: passenger name, book or volume number, and page number in volume. There are approximately 30,000 entries listed in 12 volumes covering the years 1899-1930. You will need to know the name of a passenger to search the index. If a ticket was purchased at M. L. Blitzstein and Co., your search will associate the passenger’s name with a book or volume number and page number.

LDS Microfilms: In addition, microfilm copies of the ledgers are accessible through the LDS (Mormon) Family History Library. The title is: "Ticket purchase books and index, 1899-1930". The four microfilm reels for the books are:
Microfilm #
2-42674-8065Jun 1899-Nov 1904#1,550,635
5-78066-13294Nov 1904-Oct 1907#1,550,636
8-1013295-18703Oct 1907-Jan 1913#1,550,637
11-1318704-23482Jan 1913-Dec 1930#1,550,638

The Blitzstein Records

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.  There are four fields: Surname, Given Name, Book Number, and Page Number — this information constitutes the searchable database.

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.

Book # Dates
2June 1899 through April 1902
3April 1902 through December 1903
4December 1903 through November 1904
5November 1904 through January 1906
6January 1906 through August 1906
7August 1906 through October 1907
8October 1907 through December 1909
9December 1909 through January 1911
10June 1911 through January 1913
11January 1913 through February 1914
12February 1914 through December 1921
13December 1921 through December 1930

Information you are likely to find:

  • Date - probably the date an account was opened to save money and/or purchase a ticket
  • 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.

Sample full entry:

Here’s an example of a record that appears in Book 5:

December 2, 1904. Meyer Wagman (Passenger) age 21 from c/o Mr. M. Charkam, 44B St. Georges St., London, England; from London via Antwerp to Philadelphia, on the “Haverford” (ship), American Line (shipping line).  Purchasers: D. Gertzman, 410 Tasker St. and Elie Chasin, 1541 S. 7th St. (Philadelphia)

Obtaining Copies of Full Entries

The SCRC has digitized all of the steamship ticket purchase ledgers in their collection and make them freely accessible online. The digital collection of ledgers is accessible through the following link:
Steamship Ticket Purchase Ledgers digital collection
Reference requests for copies of entries from ledgers not yet accessible in the digital collection may be submitted to SCRC reference staff.

SCRC Contact Information

Special Collections Research Center Address: Paley Library, Temple University, 1210 Polett Walk, Philadelphia, PA 19122 Website:
Phone: (215) 204-8257 Email:


JewishGen, the Philadelphia Jewish Archives Center (PJAC) and Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Philadelphia (JGSGP) would like to thank the following people for their extraordinary dedication in indexing the Blitzstein Bank records.  Without their hard work, this database would not be available to the public.

JGSGP: Selma Neubauer, Project Leader, Eileen Bobman, Maurice Goldberg, Joan Gross, Helen Gusoff, Marty Gusoff, Lora Hull, Renee Nachbar, Joan Rosen, and Steve Schechter.

PJAC: Donald Davis, Archivist, and Eric Greenberg, Associate Archivist.

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Last Update: 20 Nov 2017   Avraham Groll
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