North Carolina Emigration and Immigration

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Beginning Research
Record Types
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How to Find the Records[edit | edit source]

Online Resources[edit | edit source]

Cultural Groups[edit | edit source]

Passport Records Online[edit | edit source]

North Carolina’s treacherous coastline prevented significant immigration by sea. Most immigrants arrived at major northern ports such as New York, Baltimore, Boston, and Philadelphia. *Immigrants to New Jersey frequently arrived in the United States at nearby larger ports with better harbors, especially New York; Wilmington, Delaware; Boston, Massachusetts; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania:

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.
North Carolina Ports in NARA Records[edit | edit source]

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.

Background[edit | edit source]

  • The earliest pre-statehood settlers of North Carolina were generally of English descent and came from Virginia and South Carolina to the Coastal Plain region, between 1650 and 1730.
  • In the early 1700s, small groups of French Huguenot, German Palatine, and Swiss immigrants founded towns on the coast.
  • Between 1729 and 1775, several thousand Scottish settlers came directly from the Scottish Highlands and the Western Isles to settle the upper Cape Fear Valley.
  • During the same period, many Ulster Scots and Germans came overland down the Great Philadelphia Wagon Road into the central and western portions of the state.
  • African Americans were brought to North Carolina very early and now constitute about one-fifth of the state’s population.
  • North Carolina did not attract heavy settlement after the Revolutionary War and lost much of its population in the westward movement to Tennessee, Illinois, and other new states and territories.

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]

North Carolina Migration Routes[edit | edit source]

Atlantic Coast Ports · Black Fox Trail  · Catawba and Northern Trail  · Catawba Trail  · Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad  · Fall Line Road Southern Road  · Fayetteville, Elizabethtown, and Wilmington Trail  · Great Valley Road  · Jonesboro Road  · King's Highway  · Lower Cherokee Traders' Path  · New River and Southern Trail  · Occaneechi Path  · Old Cherokee Path  · Rutherford's War Trace  · Secondary Coast Road  · Unicoi Trail  · Upper Road  · Wilmington, Highpoint, and Northern Trail

For Further Reading[edit | edit source]

The FamilySearch Library has additional sources listed in their catalog:

References[edit | edit source]

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