Even though passenger arrival records were intended to document foreign or alien immigrants coming into the United States, you will occasionally find U.S. citizens listed on the vessel manifests as well. In the 19th century records, they are much harder to locate, their names generally mixed together with the alien arrivals. You have to note their country of origin to determine any American-born passengers. In the 20th century passenger records, the task of identifying U.S. citizens becomes much easier. In the 1920s, immigration officials started using INS form 630, “List of U.S. Citizens,” which required ship captains to record the names of all native-born or naturalized Americans or citizens of territorial possessions of the United States arriving at a U.S. or territorial port from abroad.
The lists of U.S. citizens contained far fewer questions than the alien manifests, but offered more pertinent information about the passengers. Specifically, the lists identified each U.S. citizen’s name, age, sex, marital status, date and place of birth, and current address in the United States. For naturalized citizens, the forms required the respondent to give the name and location of the court that issued their naturalization papers, and the date of naturalization. For all U.S. citizens, native-born or naturalized, the forms usually included handwritten notations regarding their U.S. passport number and date of issuance.
Lists of U.S. citizens can be found in the immigration records for most major U.S. ports at the National Archives, although there are no specific indexes that distinguish between alien and U.S. citizen arrivals (citizens are usually included in the general index for a particular port). Some of the published records on microfilm, such as A3361, Register of Citizen Arrivals (1943-1947) and Alien Arrivals (1936-1949) by Aircraft at San Francisco, California, specifically note the inclusion of U.S. citizen information, but in most cases you will need to search the records of a particular port to see if U.S. citizens are included.