Indiana Emigration and Immigration

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How to Find the Records[edit | edit source]

Online Records[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.

United States Emigration and Immigration lists several important sources for finding information about immigrants. These nationwide sources include many references to people who settled in Indiana. United States Emigration and Immigration introduces principles, search strategies, and additional record types you can use to identify an immigrant ancestor’s original hometown.

Background[edit | edit source]

  • French explorer René-Robert Cavelier, came from Michigan down to Northern Indiana in 1679. Not long after, traders from the Carolinas and Pennsylvania areas began to settle in the Ohio and Wabish Rivers regions in Indiana. These settlements caused alarm among the French who used the rivers to trade. Subsequently, the French began building forts in the early 18th century. These included Fort-Miami, Fort-Ouiatanon, and Fort-Vincennes.
  • The land was ceded to the British in 1763, and the United States in 1783.[2]
  • American settlement began before 1800 and increased substantially after the War of 1812.
  • The earliest American settlers came mainly from Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Maryland.
  • Beginning about 1830, many settlers came from Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York. Eventually, settlers from the middle Atlantic states and Ohio outnumbered those from the Southern slave states.
  • Indiana did not attract as many overseas immigrants in the mid-nineteenth century as other Midwestern states. Over half of those who came to Indiana directly from overseas were of German origin, with the Irish a distant second. Most of the present Indiana population is of English, Scottish, Irish, or German descent.
  • Around 1900, East Chicago, Gary, and South Bend attracted Polish and other eastern and southern European immigrants.

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.

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]

  • Before 1850, most immigrants reached Indiana by a water route, such as the Ohio River. In 1816, when Indiana was admitted as a state, the population was concentrated in three areas: in a band along the southern boundary of the Ohio River; along the Wabash River between its junction with the Ohio River and Terre Haute; and along the Ohio-Indiana state line.
  • Iowa was the favorite destination of those leaving Indiana in the 1850s, but by 1880 more were leaving Indiana for Illinois, Kansas, and Missouri.

Indiana Migration Routes[edit | edit source]

For Further Reading[edit | edit source]

The FamilySearch Library has additional sources listed in their catalog:

[edit | edit source]

  1. "Genealogy", at USCIS,, accessed 26 March 2021.
  2. Encyclopaedia Britannica, "Indiana," in Encyclopaedia Britannica,, accessed 20 Feb 2020.