Find Your Ancestors Using Immigration and Naturalization Sources

Immigrants-German from Wikipedia Public Domain in US

Ask anyone you know and chances are they can tell you about someone in their extended family line who has come to America from another country. The fact is, unless you come from 100% Native American descent, you have an ancestor who immigrated to America. America is a land of immigrants and it’s those immigrants who give America its unique character.

Finding your ancestor is now much easier as a result of indexes that have been created to help find records of immigration and naturalization. Below are links to some of the online record sources, indexes and instructional videos to help you find your immigrant ancestor.

  • U.S. Immigration – Before 1820—Provides links and citations to indexes for records of immigrants who arrived in American before 1820, using the primary index, sources cited in the index, and additional sources on the Internet and elsewhere.
  • U.S. Immigration – After 1820— Contains published lists of immigrants by nationality along with additional information for immigrants coming to America after 1820. Links to internet sites for passenger who came through New York, other U.S. ports and Canadian border crossings are also provided.
  • United States Naturalization—Explains how to use naturalization records. It explains the different data that was gathered before 1906 and how that information changed after 1906. It will point the way to find records in indexes, on the Internet, in the FamilySearch Catalog, as well as how to contact the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
  • United States Emigration and Immigration—Provides instructions on using emigration and immigration records. This site also provides valuable links to online indexes and instructional content.
  • Tracing Immigrant Origins—Introduces the principles, search strategies, and record types you can use to identify an immigrant ancestor's original hometown.
  • Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation—Find and honor your ancestors who arrived in the United States through Ellis Island, New York.

Video classes from the FamilySearch Learning Center

  • What's Next?.. Immigration and Naturalization Records!
  • Colonial Immigration
  • Ancestors Season 2: Immigration Records
  • New Britons: Immigration to the United Kingdom
  • Irish Emigration to North America: Before, During, and After the Famine
  • Sweden Research Series: Part 1 Immigration
  • Immigration—Crossing the Pond, Pt. 3: U.S. Naturalization Records
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