Work from the known parts of your family to the unknown, i.e. live relatives to those in passenger records
Remember families did not always travel alone – people from the same village might have traveled together or followed one another
Research the lives of those people who came in contact with your ancestor
Oral histories are valuable for clues but the grains of truth become shaky the further removed a family member or interviewee is from the event…..family lore is valuable but ask questions before accepting
Remember Ellis Island was in operation to receive immigrants only for the period of 1892 to about 1954, so not all our ancestors came through New York. In fact my surname came through Quebec City down to Chicago.