Tracing Immigrants Arrival Archives and Libraries

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Tracing Immigrant Origins
Wiki Topics
Emigrants Leave Ireland long.jpg
News and Events
Part 1. General
Part 2. Country of Arrival

 Country of Arrival Search Tactics
 Country of Arrival Record Finder
 Country of Arrival Record Types

Part 3. Country of Origin

 Country of Origin Search Tactics
 Country of Origin Record Finder
 Country of Origin Record Types

For Further Reading
The FamilySearch moderator for Tracing Immigrants Origin is GoAncestry

In addition to the Family History Library, other record repositories and the Internet have collections you can use to find an immigrant's place of origin. Most archives and libraries focus their historical and genealogical collections on the cities, towns, counties, regions, or subjects they serve. Some have a national focus. Many have immigrant and ethnic sources.

Archive and library collections often have family and local histories, biographies, church records, cemetery record collections, immigration records, courthouse records, census, organization records, directories, newspapers, and other records relating to people in their jurisdiction. Many have special indexes and manuscript collections found only in their facilities. For example, the Immigration History Research Center at the University of Minnesota has a large collection of ethnic newspapers on microfilm that is available through interlibrary loan. It also has fraternal society membership and insurance records in its non-circulating manuscript collections.

A growing number of organizations are devoted exclusively to collecting and preserving materials for specific immigrant or ethnic groups. An example is the—
Swenson Swedish Immigration Research Center
Swenson Swedish Immigration Research Center
Augustana College
639 38th Street
Rock Island, Illinois 61201-2296
Tel: 309-794-7204
Fax: 309-794-7443

The genealogical and historical collections and services of many public universities and special libraries are described in—

Internet Directories. Most libraries and archives now offer some services on the Internet.

Joe Ryan, U.S. State Historical Societies & State Archives Directory ( : accessed 12 August 2008).

Thomas Dowling, LibWeb: Library Servers via WWW ( : accessed 12 August 2008). Directory of over 7700 library catalogs in 146 countries.

Inventories, Registers, Catalogs. Many archives and libraries have catalogs, inventories, guides, or periodicals that describe their holdings. If possible, study these guides before visiting a repository. Copies at the Family History Library are listed in the Place Search of the FamilySearch Catalog under [STATE or PROVINCE], [COUNTY], [CITY] — ARCHIVES AND LIBRARY — INVENTORIES, REGISTERS, CATALOGS. One such guide for the University of Minnesota is—

Moody, Suzanna, and Joel Wurl, eds. The Immigration History Research Center: A Guide to Collections. New York: Greenwood Press, 1991. (FHL book 977.658 A3i.)

ArchiveGrid: Open Door to History ( : accessed 12 August 2008). Searching through historical documents, personal papers, and family histories held in thousands of archives around the world.

Library and Archives Canada, Canadian Genealogy Centre, Genealogy and Family History accessed 17 August 2016). Genealogical databases, catalogues and Websites.
AVITAS [ The Directory of Canadian Genealogical Resources] U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Genealogists/Family Historians ( : accessed 12 August 2008). For ancestors who interacted with the federal government, this is a great place to start.

WorldCat: Focus on Genealogy ( : accessed 12 August 2008). Tutorials and tipis for genealogists using the catalog of this library network.