Latter-day Saint Emigration and Immigration

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

In the early years of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, all faithful members were encouraged to gather to Zion. The records showing these early Saints’ faith and endurance are of great interest to their descendants.

See Latter-day Saint Colonization to learn about the history of Church settlements and colonies.

By learning about an ancestor’s immigration to Zion, you may find records that provide clues to births, marriages, and deaths that occurred along the way. You may also find names of children and other relatives in these records. You may also find clues that will help you identify the family’s place of origin.

Crossing the Ocean[edit | edit source]

Saints by Sea (website)[edit | edit source]

Saints by Sea, a website hosted by the Harold B. Lee Library of BYU, is perhaps the most comprehensive sourse for finding information about Latter-day Saint companies and individuals crossing the ocean. It provides a place for historical and genealogical research into the world-wide migration records and history about the 19th and 20th century movement of thousands of immigrants from many nations who are part of the membership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It brings together passenger lists, journals and other historical sources relating to the journey, as well as an extensive bibliography. Many of the sources cited below are contained on this website.

Indexes to Passenger Lists[edit | edit source]

To find the voyage of Church members who emigrated to the United States, try the following sources:

  • Nauvoo Social History Index. Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University, 1983. (Family History Library fiche 6334931 [set of 6]). This is a personal name index to over 71,000 records including Nauvoo property records, tax lists, ship lists, censuses, family group records, and research notes. Shows the name, sex, and source information for each entry. This indexes passengers on many Church sponsored ships arriving in the United States from 1840 to 1849.
  • Ships, Saints, and Mariners, by Conway B. Sonne. Pictures and descriptions of many ships chartered by the Church. This is included in LDS Family History Suite 2.
  • European Emigration Card Index, 1849–1925. Salt Lake City: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1951. (Family History Library films 298431–39). This index is also known as the Crossing the Ocean Index. It is an alphabetical card index to the Saints who crossed the ocean on their way to Zion. This index is incomplete because it focuses only on ships chartered by Church agents. The cards are filed by the head of the family or the leader of each group. The name of the ship and the date of departure from Liverpool is included.
  • Early Church Information File. This index is cited fully in Latter-day Saint Biographies. It indexes Church emigration registers that were not included in the European Emigration Card Index cited previously.
  • Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Family History Dept. Reference Unit. Scandinavian LDS Mission Index. Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1992. (Family History Library fiche 6060482 [set of 344]). This indexes.
  • Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Scandinavian Mission. Emigration Records, Scandinavian Mission (Denmark, Norway, Sweden) 1852–1920. Salt Lake City: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1951–1953. (Family History Library films 025696–97). It may list in a year-by-year arrangement each emigrant’s name, age, residence, and occupation.
  • Mormon Migration Database at FamilySearch; index & images; Also at: Ancestry ($)
  • Passenter-liste for Undvandrerskinbene fra Kobenhaven til Hull, 1872–1894 [Passenger Lists of Emigrants from Copenhagen to Hull, 1872–1894. Salt Lake City: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1948. (Family History Library film 040994). Text in Danish. This record was created by the Copenhagen police of Latter-day Saint emigrants. It may show name, age, occupation, residence, and marital status.

If your ancestor did not emigrate to the United States with a Church company, check the following Wiki articles for records and strategies:

Worldwide LDS Ship Register (1840–1913)[edit | edit source]

To find microfilm numbers of passenger lists of emigrating Saints, search the following source:

Taylor, Margery. Worldwide LDS Ship Register, 1840–1913. [Salt Lake City, Utah]: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Family History Department, 1991. (Family History Library book 289.309 T216w; film 1592753). This is a comprehensive list of ships used by Church emigrants. It is arranged chronologically by the departure date. It includes ships that came from Liverpool, Copenhagen, Hamburg, Capetown, Glasgow, and other foreign ports. It lists departure date, ship name, departure port, "LDS roster" (microfilm number for the Church’s emigration register), company leader, arrival date, arrival port, "US roster" (film number for the United States passenger arrival list), references to written accounts of the voyage, and references to a picture or description of the ship.

You can also find film numbers to the Church emigration registers in the Subject Search of the FamilySearch Catalog under:


Written Accounts of Voyages[edit | edit source]

To find written accounts of voyages, check the following sources:

Bashore, Melvin L., and Linda L. Haslam. Mormons on the High Seas: Ocean Voyage Narratives to America (1840–1890).[Salt Lake City, Utah]: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Historical Dept., 1990. (Family History Library book 289.3016 B291mh; film 1592752 item 5). This is a bibliography of accounts of the voyages made by members of the Church. This is arranged alphabetically by the ship name, and then by the date of the voyage. The latest edition is available in the Historical Department—Church Library.

The following important source is not limited to Scandinavians:

Jenson, Andrew. History of the Scandinavian Mission}. Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret News Press, 1927. (Family History Library book 948 K2j; film 896938 item 2; fiche 6030136). This history gives accounts of voyages and the adventures while crossing the ocean. It includes detailed descriptions of many Church-chartered ships embarking from England between 1852 to 1890. Check the index to see if your ancestor’s ship is listed. The accounts include the Saints’ journeys across the plains to Utah.

Crossing the Plains[edit | edit source]

Sites Along the Mormon Trail.png

The Church’s movement to the valley of the Great Salt Lake is the largest organized migration movement in American history spanning from 1846 until 1925. This section covers this major migration.

The following indexes list members who crossed the plains before the transcontinental railroad was completed:

Indexes to Pioneer Companies (1847–1869)[edit | edit source]

The Pioneer Database, 1847-1868 is the Internet version of Melvin L. Bashore's Crossing the Plains Index Database. Salt Lake City, Utah: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Historical Dept., 1998-. The Historical Department—Church Library is adding information from many recently discovered rosters and other sources to this database. Each entry gives the pioneer’s name, age, sex, and the year he or she came and the name of the pioneer company. It includes birth, death, or other identifying information. It also provides a record of those who died along the trail. This is an attempt to correct and expand previous indexes. This database has the following searches:

  • Surname. This search provides all entries for one surname, by exact spelling.
  • Company. This search gives an alphabetical list of all the members of a pioneer company.
  • Alphabetical Search. This search may show individuals with an alternate spelling.
  • Key Word Search. This search allows for the find of individuals and sources using key words.

Journal History of the Church. For important immigrant train rosters and their index see the Journal History. These rosters were compiled from primary and secondary sources.

Utah Immigration Card Index, 1847–1868. Salt Lake City: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1963. (Family History Library films 298440–42). This card file is also known as the Crossing the Plains Index. It is not complete, but indexes pioneers who crossed the plains before 10 May 1869 in immigrant companies sponsored by the Church. The cards are listed alphabetically by the head of the family or group. They usually contain the names of other family members or traveling companions. Each card gives the name of the company, date of arrival in Salt Lake City, or the date the company roster appears in the Journal History (see History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).

Can’t find a name in the index?

If you cannot find your ancestor in one of the indexes mentioned in this article, you could try to determine the year or company in:

  • Biographies of each family member and others who may have been traveling with them.
  • Obituaries of each family member and others who may have been traveling with them.
  • Tax records. If you know where the family settled, study the tax lists and find the first year your ancestor appears. This helps identify about when he or she arrived in Utah. See Utah Taxation.

Jenson, Andrew. Index to the Deseret News Weekly 1850–1900. This indexes several immigrant rosters not available elsewhere. The full citation is in Latter-day Saint Newspapers.

Rosters[edit | edit source]

A roster is a list of people who were in the same pioneer company as they crossed the plains.

For a bibliography of all known pioneer company rosters see:

"Pioneer Companies that Crossed the Plains, 1848–1868." Deseret News 1997–1998 Church Almanac. Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret News, 1996. (Family History Library book 289.305 D457). Pages 167–76 list pioneer companies by date of departure. Each company has a reference citation to the roster, if one is available. These references are usually to entries in the Journal History. This issue of the almanac also includes a sketch of a typical pioneer wagon, typical pioneer clothing, trail maps, and a list of pioneer supplies on pages 107–14.

Incomplete rosters can be found in:

Carter, Kate B. Heart Throbs of the West. Salt Lake City: Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 1939–1951. (Family History Library book 979.2 H2cah).

  • "They came in 47" v. 8: 401–48
  • "They came in 48" v. 9: 453–524
  • "They came in 49" v. 10: 429–72
  • "They came in 50" v. 11: 377–454
  • "They came in 51" v. 12: 405–62

These volumes are indexed on the Internet at and included in the LDS Family History Suite 2. Although the compact disc has a search function that should find a name within these volumes, it does not seem to check these lists. Go directly to the article and look for your ancestor’s name.

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Historical Department. Church Emigration, 1831–1881. [Salt Lake City, Utah: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Historical Dept., 199-?] This is available in the Historical Department—Archive Search Room. The information was taken from the Millennial Starand the Journal History.

Written Accounts of the Journey[edit | edit source]

To find written accounts of the journey across the plains see:

Bashore, Melvin L., and Linda L. Haslam. [Database of] Mormon Pioneer Companies Crossing the Plains [1847–1868] Narratives: Guide to Sources in Utah Libraries and Archives. Salt Lake City, Utah: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Historical Dept., 1998-. It is arranged by year and lists each company by date of departure. For each company, it lists sources of accounts alphabetically by author. For each source cited, it gives a summary of the account and list of every name and place mentioned in the original. It includes the repository and call number for each narrative. The staff at the Historical Department—Church Library will search the current database for you. The Family History Library only has the predecessor listed below:

Bashore, Melvin L., and Linda L. Haslam. Mormon Pioneer Companies Crossing the Plains (1847–1868.) Narratives. Third Revised Edition. Salt Lake City, Utah: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Historical Dept., 1990. (Family History Library  book 289.3016 B291m; film 1592752 item 6). Since then, many more sources have been added. Pioneer companies are listed chronologically by year and then by company leader. This is indexed in the Early Church Information File.

Bashore, Melvin L. "New Mormon Emigration Finding Aids: The Compiler’s Personal Experiences." Nauvoo Journal 10 (Spring 1998): 97–108. (Family History Library book 977.343/N1 H25n). This article explains the sources he used to compile his emigration indexes and reference works which are cited in this article.

Hafen, LeRoy R. Handcarts to Zion: The Story of a Unique Western Migration, 1856–1860, With Contemporary Journals, Accounts, Reports, and Rosters of Members of the Ten Handcart Companies. Glendale, Calif.: Arthur H. Clark, 1960. (Family History Library book 289.309 H119h; film 1059487 item 7; fiche 6031590 [set of 4]). This is a good resource for accounts of the handcart companies. However, the rosters are incomplete. This is indexed in the Early Church Information File.

Also check Latter-day Saint Biographies and Latter-day Saint Compiled Genealogies for more sources that may have accounts of the journey.

The Pioneer Trail[edit | edit source]

Wikipedia has more about this subject: Mormon Trail

The following books and Internet sites also good places to find trail maps, histories, and other information:

Mormon Trail Wiki page emphasizing strategies and records for finding immigrant ancestors, and connecting migration pathways.

Historical Atlas of Mormonism cited fully in Latter-day Saint Colonization.

Kimball, Stanley B. Discovering Mormons Trails: New York to California, 1831–1868. Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, 1979. (Family History Library book 978 E7k). Includes index. This shows current maps with the original trails marked. Using these maps, you can travel along the original trails.

"Mormon Trail." In Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopeida [Internet site]. Wikipedia Foundation, 2008 [cited 21 February 2008]. History and information about places along the trail.

Mormon Trails Association. [Internet site]. N.p.: MTA, 1999-2005 [cited 21 February 2008]. Available at Mormon Trails Includes detailed descriptions of variations in the trail route from year to year.

The Mormon Pioneer Trail. In the American West Home Page [Internet site].. More emphasis on the history than on the route.

"Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail" National Park Service Internet site [cited 21 February 2008] Available at Discusses the culture and history of the trail, and has a great map showing the trail and modern roads nearby.

"Oregon - California Trails Association." In Calcite Rocky Mountain College [Internet site]. Independence, Missouri: OCTA, 28 June 1999 [cited 21 February 2008]. Available at Includes Mormon Trail maps, photos, site descriptions, and diary quotations. For an index of overland trail documents try

Deaths Along the Trail[edit | edit source]

A complete list of all Saints who died crossing the plains does not exist as explained in:

Black, Susan Easton, et. al. Do We Know How Many Latter-day Saints Died Between 1846–1869 in the Migration to the Salt Lake Valley? The Ensign of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 28, no. 7 (July 1998): 41–44. (Family History Library book 289.305 C473e). This article includes background information about the types of illness that saints died of, their symptoms, and possible causes. It also explains the types of fatal accidents that occur with a wagon.

The following lists have been compiled:

Black, Susan Easton. Inscriptions Found on Tombstones and Monuments in Early Latter-day Saints Burial Grounds: Nauvoo, Illinois (Joseph Smith Homestead, and Pioneer Saints Cemetery on Parley Street), Mt. Pisgah, Iowa, West Bank of the Niobrara River, Nebraska, Winter Quarters, Nebraska. N.p.,[198-?] (Family History Library book 973 V3es; fiche 6019028). Entries may include name, birth date, birthplace, death date, headstone markings, location of the grave, nickname, age, or source. This is included in the LDS Family History Suite 2.

The Pioneer Database, 1847-1868 indicates who died along the trail on individual profiles. It does not provide a comprehensive list.

Record of Early Members of the Church Who Died in Missouri, Kirtland, Nauvoo and on the Plains: Taken from the Evening Morning Star, the Messenger and Advocate, the Elders’ Journal, the Times and Seasons, the Wasp, the Nauvoo Neighbor, the Prophet, the St. Louis Luminary, the Frontier Guardian, the Mormon, the Western Standard, and the Deseret News: Down to 1868. Holograph, 1965. Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1965. (Family History Library book Q973 V2rc; film 413034 item 2). This is an alphabetical list of people who died along the trail. It gives the person’s name, birth date and place, and death date. It includes only the pioneers who died crossing the plains whose temple work was not completed as of 1918.

Mission Emigration Records[edit | edit source]

Related FamilySearch Blog Articles[edit | edit source]