About the Saints by Sea Website

Nearly 90,000 Latter-day Saint converts crossed the oceans during the 19th century, heeding a call to come to Zion, to "be gathered in unto one place" (D&C 29:7). The first company of Saints gathered to Zion in 1840, followed by a continual flow of immigrants over the next decades. Immigration, after conversion, was considered the fruit of a faithful Saint. At the close of the 19th Century, leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints began to de-emphasized convert immigration to America. During the 20th century, the Church constructed chapels and encouraged converts to build Zion in their homelands.

The Saints by Sea website offers inspiring first-person accounts of international converts who turned their faces toward Zion from 1840-1932. Autobiographies, journals, diaries, reminiscences, and letters link to hundreds of known Latter-day Saint immigrant voyages and names of passengers, providing a composite history of those who crossed the Atlantic and Pacific to gather to Zion. The immigrant accounts of their travels describe not only their experiences crossing the oceans, but also include details of their continued journey by land.

Saints by Sea contributes to the complete immigration story of Latter-day Saints, from their departure at international ports to their arrival in Zion. It includes immigrants from 1840-46 who gathered to Nauvoo, Illinois, pioneers from 1847-1868 who trekked to the Great Basin by wagon, handcart, and on foot, and Saints who traveled by rail from 1869-1932. For those who came during the wagon and handcart period, the Saints by Sea website complements the Church History Library’s Pioneer Database 1847-1868.


The Saints by Sea website includes information from the Mormon Immigration Index CD-ROM, published in 2000 by FamilySearch, that documents valuable immigration information for most Latter-day Saint immigrants. It included names, ages, origins, ports of departure and arrival, as well as the known number of Saints and their company leaders on each voyage.

Additional sources for passenger information include the European Emigration Card Index, British Mission Emigration Register, Scandinavian Mission Emigration Register, Swiss German Mission Emigration Register, Deseret News (including the Semi-Weekly, Weekly and Evening) and the Latter-day Saints' Millennial Star. The European Emigration Card Index has been reproduced in electronic format in its entirety, but registers have not. The registers provide passenger information from many voyages, and documentation for further research by patrons has been provided in the source field for each voyage. The Balch Institute in Philadelphia (directed by Dr. Ira Glazier) graciously permitted examination of the original U.S. Customs lists. Information about Latter-day Saint immigrants to America from these lists have been analyzed and entered in the data base.

Researchers gathered immigrant accounts mostly from the Family History Library and Church History Library located in Salt Lake City, Utah. Other accounts came from L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Brigham Young University, (hereafter cited as BYU Special Collections), Utah State University, Merrill Library Special Collections, University of Utah, Marriott Library Special Collections, Daughters of the Utah Pioneers in Salt Lake City, Utah State Historical Society, Huntington Library (San Marino, CA), Yale University (Beineke Library of Rare Books and Manuscripts), Bancroft Library, University of Berkeley. Private donors have also made significant contributions. Researchers studied the Library of Congress collection of Mormon diaries and a variety of secondary sources, all available at the Church History Library.

Notable secondary sources which have been especially useful are the Deseret News 1997–98 Church Almanac and "Mormons on the High Seas Ocean Voyage Narratives, 6th revised printing 1997, compiled by Melvin L. Bashore and Linda L. Haslam. The Church Almanac provided a start for identifying Latter-day Saint immigrant voyages, and the "Mormons on the High Seas Ocean Voyage Narratives" was used for collecting immigrant voyage accounts. The writings of Andrew Jenson provided a synopsis of most voyages and journeys to Zion, especially for Scandinavian immigrants.

Saints by Sea Team

Chief Compiler and Editor

Fred E. Woods, Ph.D, Professor of Church History and Doctrine, Brigham Young University

Professor Woods is the founder of the Saints by Sea database, formerly called the Mormon Migration website. The content for this database is based on the Mormon Immigration Index CD (released by the Church in 2000), compiled and edited by Dr. Woods, along with former assistant editor, the late Blaine R. Bake from the faculty of BYU-Idaho (formerly Ricks College).

Database Curator

Joseph B. Everett, MLS, AG, Family History, Local History and Microforms Librarian, BYU Library

Joe continues the work of emeritus faculty librarians at BYU, including Terry Dahlin and Howard Bybee in curating the database in collaboration with Dr. Woods.

Product Manager

Brent Ellingson, IT Product Manager, BYU Library

The database was designed and has been maintained by several IT professionals in the BYU Library over the years. Brent Ellingson is the current product manager responsible for IT development support of the database.


I express gratitude to the BYU-Idaho (formerly Ricks College) Family History Center, directed by emeritus faculty member Blaine R. Bake (new deceased), for supporting this project. Blaine, while assistant editor in the late 1990s, checked each passenger list and prepared it for publication in the Mormon Immigration Index CD-ROM. He directed library faculty, staff, missionaries and students who provided countless hours gathering information for this database. The combined effort of many volunteers has demonstrated the same dedication as the Perpetual Emigration Fund inspired when the Saints first gathered to Zion. I thank Ricks College for an extended sabbatical, and resources for this project in 1997–1998 and both funding and resources from the Church History Library.

I also thank Brigham Young University Religious Education for providing funds and opportunities to do additional interpretive research during the two decades. I appreciate both students and volunteers at these universities who assisted in this continuing project. I extend gratitude Linda Hunter Adams, emeritus BYU professor in the Humanities Department (now deceased), for her assistance in establishing electronic editorial procedures for the Mormon Immigration Index CD. I express appreciation to the BYU Center for Family History and Genealogy which assisted with some funding for phase two of the Saints by Sea database.

In addition, gratitude is extended to Dr. Shauna C. Anderson, Dr. Ruth Ellen Maness, and Dr. Susan Easton Black who graciously permitted their work, Passport to Paradise: The Copenhagen "Mormon" Passenger Lists, vol. 1, 1872-1887 and vol. 2, 1888-1894 (West Jordan, Utah: Genealogical Services, 2000) to be added to the Saints by Sea database. I must also acknowledge the dedicated work and wonderful contribution Elder Darrell Nichols provided in transcribing additional voyage account. He and his wife Sister Lola have served for a number of years as senior missionaries at the Church History Library.

I gratefully acknowledge the libraries, archives and other repositories for providing access to the many primary and secondary sources used in compiling this database, noted above.

I express gratitude to the Brigham Young University Harold B. Lee Library for hosting this website. I am grateful to BYU software engineer Geoff Groberg who built the bulk of the website and added important dimensions to facilitate academic research, as well as Brian Rennick, BYU Associate University Librarian for Library Information Technology who has supported the project. Gratitude is also expressed to BYU Family History librarians Howard Bybee, Terry Dahlin, and now Joe Everett for serving as curators of the database and providing additional research support along with their student research assistants. Additional thanks goes to Joe Everett and his student research assistant Courtney Lawson for their ongoing project in collaboration with students at the BYU Library and BYU Record Linking Lab, employees at FamilySearch and the Church History Library, and missionary volunteers in the FamilySearch Record Operations Center to compile links for thousands of passengers in this database to the Family Tree on FamilySearch, enabling many more people to discover this rich resource. They are also continuing to work on improving the data with new additions and corrections to passenger and voyage information and accounts, with research I have compiled and other immigration sources.

— Dr. Fred E. Woods, Editor and Compiler, Professor of Church History and Doctrine, Brigham Young University.