Oklahoma Emigration and Immigration

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Oklahoma Wiki Topics
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Beginning Research
Record Types
Oklahoma Background
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Local Research Resources

How to Find the Records[edit | edit source]

Oklahoma, being entirely inland, has no seaports. Immigrants would have initially arrived at a port on the coast. To search those records, see United States Immigration Online Genealogy Records.

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.

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]

Indian Migrations[edit | edit source]

  • The Caddo, Pawnee, and Wichita tribes were living in the area of Oklahoma in the 1700s.
  • About the time the United States acquired the area through the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, other tribes such as the Quapaw, Oto, and Osage migrated to eastern Oklahoma.
  • In the early part of the 19th century, the U.S. government forced a significant number of the Five Tribes (Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek (Muscogee), and Seminole) to Indian Territory to the Oklahoma Territory.[2]
  • After the Civil War, many other tribes from throughout the United States were forcefully or by treaty moved off their lands and settled in Oklahoma.
  • There were about 80,000 Indians in Oklahoma in 1860, when the entire area was known as the Indian Territory.
  • In 1924, all Indians in the Indian Territory were declared citizens of the United States.


See Oklahoma Online Genealogy Records:Indigenous Peoples.

Non-Indian Settlers[edit | edit source]

  • Only a few thousand non-Indians lived in the Territory before 1889.
  • After the Civil War, a few people from the South moved into the Indian Territory. Anyone wishing to live in this area needed permission from the Indians, but some white settlers tried to move into the Territory without permission.
  • A mining boom in the 1870s brought Europeans into the Choctaw Nation (present-day southeastern Oklahoma). Descendants of Italian, Slavic, Greek, Welsh, Polish, and Russian miners still live in that area.
  • Between 1878 and 1885, “Boomers” (other white settlers) tried unsuccessfully to take over Indian lands.
  • In 1889 the “Unassigned Lands” (land not assigned to Indian tribes) in central Indian Territory were opened for settlement by non-Indians. This created the first of the famous Oklahoma land runs (see Land and Property). Approximately 50,000 settlers came the first year.
  • Another run in 1893 brought 100,000 settlers, mostly to the “Cherokee Outlet” (northwestern Oklahoma).
  • The land runs brought homesteaders from China, Japan, Mexico, England, France, and Canada, as well as from nearly every state. People from the southern states settled mostly in eastern and southern counties, while people from northern states favored the northern and western sections.
  • Wheat farming attracted German Mennonites and Czechs to the northwestern counties.
  • Mexicans also worked as railroad laborers, ranch hands, and coal miners before statehood.
  • Between 1907 and 1920, the discovery of oil brought many people from other oil-producing areas and from the Midwest.
  • The population of the state reached about 2,400,000 by 1930.
  • The drought and the Great Depression of the 1930s caused thousands of farmers to move to urban areas or migrate west to California.

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. Again, immigrants would have initially arrived at a port on the coast. To search those records, see United States Immigration Online Genealogy Records.

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.

Information in Passports[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]

Oklahoma Migration Routes[edit | edit source]

Arkansas River · Butterfield Overland Mail · Canadian River · Cimarron River · Red River · Chisholm Trail · Santa Fe Trail · Atlantic and Pacific Railroad · St. Louis–San Francisco Railway · Texas and Pacific Railway

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. "Five Civilized Tribes", in Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Five_Civilized_Tribes, accessed 8 April 2021.