Let's say you have a date when one of your ancestors entered the United States. It may have come from a census record, a naturalization record, an obituary, or a family story. You now want to search for a ship manifest to see if it provides any more information. This page and the two pages below will help you get started.
I have found ship manifests for most of my ancestors, their siblings, and other family members who came to the United States. Sometimes the manifests can add to your family story. For example, my great-grandparents moved to North Dakota from Sweden in 1880. In 1888, my great-grandmother's brother moved to the U.S. The Swedish Emigration Record for him listed his destination as "Christine, Dak." Christine, North Dakota is near the farm where his sister and brother-in-law lived. So, he was joining his sister. Then in 1894, his younger sister moved to the U.S. Her ship manifest said she was joining her brother in North Dakota. That helped me find an 1895 Minnesota Territorial Census Record that showed brother and sister living in Wolverton, Minnesota, which is about four miles from the farm near Christine North Dakota. I did not know the family members that came to the U.S. had lived so near each other. It was nice to add that to the family story.
If you are not sure that searching for a ship manifest is the next best option for your research, consider using the advice feature of this site. This will help you pick your next best steps in your research. Go to Genealogy Search Advice.