Michigan Emigration and Immigration

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The FamilySearch moderator for Michigan is Sallyrose1.

How to Find the Records[edit | edit source]

Online Resources[edit | edit source]

Cultural Groups[edit | edit source]


Passport Records Online[edit | edit source]

Offices to Contact[edit | edit source]

Although many records are included in the online records listed above, there are other records available through these archives and offices. For example, there are many minor ports that have not yet been digitized. There are also records for more recent time periods. For privacy reasons, some records can only be accessed after providing proof that your ancestor is now deceased.

National Archives and Records Administration[edit | edit source]

  • You may do research in immigration records in person at the National Archives Building, 700 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20408-0001.

U.S. Citizenship and and Immigration Services Genealogy Program[edit | edit source]

The USCIS Genealogy Program is a fee-for-service program that provides researchers with timely access to historical immigration and naturalization records of deceased immigrants. If the immigrant was born less than 100 years ago, you will also need to provide proof of his/her death.

Immigration Records Available[edit | edit source]
  • A-Files: Immigrant Files, (A-Files) are the individual alien case files, which became the official file for all immigration records created or consolidated since April 1, 1944.
  • Alien Registration Forms (AR-2s): Alien Registration Forms (Form AR-2) are copies of approximately 5.5 million Alien Registration Forms completed by all aliens age 14 and older, residing in or entering the United States between August 1, 1940 and March 31, 1944.
  • Registry Files: Registry Files are records, which document the creation of immigrant arrival records for persons who entered the United States prior to July 1, 1924, and for whom no arrival record could later be found.
  • Visa Files: Visa Files are original arrival records of immigrants admitted for permanent residence under provisions of the Immigration Act of 1924.[1]
Requesting a Record[edit | edit source]

Finding Town of Origin[edit | edit source]

Records in the countries emigrated from are kept on the local level. You must first identify the name of the town where your ancestors lived to access those records. If you do not yet know the name of the town of your ancestor's birth, there are well-known strategies for a thorough hunt for it.

Background[edit | edit source]

  • By the mid-18th century, the French occupied forts at Fort Pontchartrain, Fort Michilimackinac, and forts present-day Niles and Sault Ste. Marie, though most of the rest of the region remained unsettled by Europeans. France offered free land to attract families to Detroit, which grew to 800 people in 1765, and was the largest city between Montreal and New Orleans.
  • French settlers also established small farms south of the Detroit River opposite the fort, near a Jesuit mission and Huron village.
  • During the American Revolutionary War, Detroit was an important British supply center. Most of the inhabitants were French-Canadians or Native Americans.
  • The population grew slowly until the opening in 1825 of the Erie Canal through the Mohawk Valley in New York, connecting the Great Lakes to the Hudson River and New York City. The new route attracted a large influx of settlers to the Michigan territory.
  • A second wave of French-Canadian immigrants settled in Michigan during the late 19th to early 20th century, working in lumbering areas in counties on the Lake Huron side of the Lower Peninsula, such as the Saginaw Valley, Alpena, and Cheboygan counties, as well as throughout the Upper Peninsula, with large concentrations in Escanaba and the Keweenaw Peninsula.
  • Pre-statehood settlers of Michigan generally came from New York, Ohio, the New England states, and Ontario.
  • Many immigrants from Germany and the Netherlands arrived by 1850. Later arrivals were Scandinavian, Irish, Cornish, Italian, and Polish.
  • Ford's development of the moving assembly line in Highland Park marked a new era in transportation. With the growth, the auto industry created jobs in Detroit that attracted immigrants from Europe and migrants from across the United States, including both blacks and whites from the rural South. By the 1930s, so many immigrants had arrived that more than 30 languages were spoken in the public schools.
  • Michigan has the largest Dutch, Finnish, and Macedonian populations in the United States.[2]

Demographics[edit | edit source]

  • Americans of European descent live throughout Michigan and most of Metro Detroit. Large European American groups include those of German, British, Irish, Polish and Belgian ancestry.
  • People of Scandinavian descent, and those of Finnish ancestry, have a notable presence in the Upper Peninsula.
  • Western Michigan is known for the 'Dutch heritage* of many residents (the highest concentration of any state), especially in Holland and metropolitan Grand Rapids.
  • African-Americans, who came to Detroit and other northern cities in the Great Migration of the early 20th century, form a majority of the population of the city of Detroit and of other cities, including Flint and Benton Harbor.
  • As of 2007 about 300,000 people in Southeastern Michigan trace their descent from the Middle East. Dearborn has a sizeable Arab community, with many Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac, and Lebanese who immigrated for jobs in the auto industry in the 1920s along with more recent Yemenis and Iraqis.
  • As of 2007, almost 8,000 Hmong people lived in the State of Michigan, about double their 1999 presence in the state.
  • As of 2015, 80% of Michigan's Japanese population lived in the counties of Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw, and Wayne in the Detroit and Ann Arbor areas. The state has 481 Japanese employment facilities providing 35,554 local jobs.[3]

Immigration Records[edit | edit source]

Immigration refers to people coming into a country. Emigration refers to people leaving a country to go to another. Immigration records usually take the form of ship's passenger lists collected at the port of entry. See Online Resources.

What can I find in them?[edit | edit source]

Information in Passenger Lists[edit | edit source]

  • Before 1820 - Passenger lists before 1820 included name, departure information and arrival details. The names of wives and children were often not included.
  • 1820-1891 - Customs Passenger Lists between 1820 and 1891 asked for each immigrant’s name, their age, their sex, their occupation, and their country of origin, but not the city or town of origin.
  • 1891-1954 - Information given on passenger lists from 1891 to 1954 included:
    • name, age, sex,
    • nationality, occupation, marital status,
    • last residence, final destination in the U.S.,
    • whether they had been to the U.S. before (and if so, when, where and how long),
    • if joining a relative, who this person was, where they lived, and their relationship,
    • whether able to read and write,
    • whether in possession of a train ticket to their final destination, who paid for the passage,
    • amount of money the immigrant had in their possession,
    • whether the passenger had ever been in prison, a poorhouse, or in an institution for the insane,
    • whether the passenger was a polygamist,
    • and immigrant's state of health.
  • 1906-- - In 1906, the physical description and place of birth were included, and a year later, the name and address of the passenger’s closest living relative in the country of origin was included.

[edit | edit source]

Over the years, passports and passport applications contained different amounts of information about the passport applicant. The first passports that are available begin in 1795. These usually contained the individual's name, description of individual, and age. More information was required on later passport applications, such as:

  • Birthplace
  • Birth date
  • Naturalization information
  • Arrival information, if foreign born

In-country Migration[edit | edit source]

Michigan Migration Routes[edit | edit source]

For Further Reading[edit | edit source]

The FamilySearch Library has additional sources listed in their catalog:

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "Genealogy", at USCIS, https://www.uscis.gov/records/genealogy, accessed 26 March 2021.
  2. "Michigan", in Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michigan, accessed 5 April 2021.
  3. "Michigan: Demographics", in Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michigan#Demographics, accessed 5 April 2021.

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