Have you had bad luck searching for your German immigrant ancestor’s arrival record in the Ancestry.com collections or on other websites? The best and most comprehensive database of German arrival records for 1850-1897, in my opinion, is the National Archives’ “Germans to America Database,” located at: http://aad.archives.gov/aad/fielded-search.jsp?dt=2102&tf
You can search for your immigrant ancestor by last name, first name, age, country of origin, destination, and manifest identification number (a unique number that identifies a particular voyage of a particular ship).
After you undertake a search and are presented with a list of results, click the little paper icon to the left of the immigrant’s name (in the “View Record” column). This will display a page with more information on the immigrant, such as their name, age, sex, occupation, literacy, country of origin, last residence, destination, travel accommodations, and the manifest identification number of that particular voyage.
To then find out the name of the ship and the date of the voyage they were on, write down or copy the manifest identification number of that particular immigrant, and go to the Manifest Header Data webpage, which is located at: http://aad.archives.gov/aad/fielded-search.jsp?dt=2122&tf=F&cat=all&bc=
At the Manifest Header Data webpage, type in the manifest identification number you copied from the passenger file from earlier, and search it. You will then come up with a result that shows you the matching manifest identification number, along with the corresponding ship name, port of departure, and date of arrival in the United States.