The blight that struck the Irish potato crop in the winter of 1845-46 brought ruin to tens of thousands of tenant farmers and laborers, reducing almost all of Ireland to poverty and, as a result, people had the choice of leaving Ireland or perishing. So, between 1846 and 1851, more than a million men, women and children emigrated to the United States and Canada, mostly through the port of New York.
The information on these people exists in an invaluable series of port arrival records, the Customs Passenger Lists. Unpublished and only partially indexed, these records have been studied and the result is The Famine Immigrants series of which this is the first volume. From January 1846 to June 1847, 85,000 Irish men, women, and children arrived at the port of New York. The passenger lists are arranged by ship and date of arrival in New York, and each person is identified with respect to age, sex, occupation, and family relationships where such was indicated in the original manifests. The extensive index contains all of the passenger names in the text.