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How to Find the Records

Utah, 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. Many Latter-day Saint immigrants leaving Europe and Great Britain came on chartered ships from Liverpool, England. Between 1840 and 1854, New Orleans was the major port of arrival for Latter-day Saint immigrant ships. Between 1855 and 1890, most of the ships arrived in New York, Philadelphia, or Boston. Suggestions for help in locating your immigrant ancestor can be found under Latter-day Saint Emigration and Immigration.

Online Resources

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The usage of "Mormon" and "LDS" on this page is approved according to current policy.


Offices to Contact

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

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
  • 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

Oregon-California Trails Association

Oregon-California Trails Association is an educational organization that promotes the story of the westward migration to Oregon, among other places. Their site includes a personal name index to trail diaries, journals, reminiscences, autobiographies, newspaper articles, guidebooks and letters at A Guide to Overland Pioneer Names and Documents.

  • Search the Paper Trail Database Initial searches are FREE! You can go to the "Search" tab now to begin. These free searches will tell you if a name or document is in the database. It will give you the origin and year of the journey, how the person was mentioned, the name of the party, and the name and author of the document described. Subscriptions give you more complete information including a scan of the original survey. This lists the route taken, ages, and other notes about the document. But most importantly, you will have access to the location of known copies of the original document.

Finding Town of Origin

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

  • Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were the pioneer settlers of Utah and have always accounted for a high percentage of the population. The first wagon train of pioneers entered the Salt Lake Valley in 1847. By the time the railroad reached Utah in 1869, more than 69,000 Latter-day Saints had made the trek across the Great Plains.
  • Early pioneers came primarily from the New England, mid-Atlantic, and Midwestern states as well as Canada and Great Britain. The population of the early settlements grew because of missionary work overseas. British converts formed the largest foreign-born immigrant group followed by the Scandinavians. Significant numbers also came from France, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands.
  • Other Latter-day Saint pioneers came from such divers areas as Australia, South Africa, the Pacific Islands, and the Near East. A few African-Americans were among the earliest arrivals in Salt Lake.
  • Members of other denominations migrated to Utah from all parts of the United States and from other countries. The California Gold Rush and the western movement brought new settlers. Jewish merchants established businesses.
  • United States military personnel arrived in the 1850s and 1860s. Some chose to stay when their service ended.

Immigration Records

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?

Information in Passenger Lists

  • 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

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

Utah Migration Routes

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The usage of "Mormon" and "LDS" on this page is approved according to current policy.


California Trail · Central Overland Trail · Mormon Trail · Mormon Trail to Southern California · Old Spanish Trail · Central Pacific Railroad · Union Pacific Railroad · Southern Pacific Railroad · Denver and Rio Grande Railroad

For Further Reading

The FamilySearch Library has additional sources listed in their catalog:

References

  1. "Genealogy", at USCIS, https://www.uscis.gov/records/genealogy, accessed 26 March 2021.

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