Oregon Emigration and Immigration

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Oregon Wiki Topics
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Beginning Research
Record Types
Oregon Background
Cultural Groups
Local Research Resources

How to Find the Records[edit | edit source]

Online Resources[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.
Oregon Ports in NARA Records[edit | edit source]
  • Astoria, Oregon, 1888-1956
  • Beaver, Oregon, 1888-1956, see Astoria, Oregon
  • Bradwood, Oregon, 1888-1956, see Astoria, Oregon
  • Breland [Bretland?], Oregon, 1888-1956, see Astoria, Oregon
  • Coos Bay, Oregon, 1888-1956, see Astoria, Oregon
  • Grays Harbor, Oregon, 1888-1956, see Astoria, Oregon
  • Marshfield, Oregon, 1888-1956, see Astoria, Oregon
  • Newport, Oregon, 1888-1956, see Astoria, Oregon
  • Portland, Oregon, 1888-1956
  • Warrenton, Oregon, 1888-1956, see Astoria, Oregon

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]

Oregon Historical Society Library[edit | edit source]

Oregon Historical Society
Davies Family Research Library
1200 SW Park Ave, 4th Floor
Portland, OR 97205

Tel. 503-306-5240
Email: libreference@ohs.org

  • Biography Card File
Local, state, and regional histories and published biographical resources in our collection at the time the index was completed;
Birth, death, and marriage citations from roughly a dozen and a half western Oregon newspapers covering the latter half of the 19th and the first two decades of the 20th centuries;
Our 350+ volume collection of scrapbooks created by the Works Progress Administration (W.P.A.);
Indian War Pension Papers filed by veterans or by heirs of those who fought in the territorial Indian Wars (1847 –1879).
  • Vertical File Index
A topical access point to folders of newspaper clipping, magazine articles, flyer, brochures, ad pamphlets related to certain persons or families. :::Genealogy files will often include biographical sketches, obituaries, or family trees.
  • Pioneer Card File
Transcribed questionnaires issued to pioneer descendants at annual Oregon Pioneer Association meetings
Notes taken by Judge Charles H. Carey, one‐time president of the Historical Society and author of several histories of the state;
Materials donated to the Historical Society by the Lane County Pioneer Association.
  • Daughters of the American Revolution (D.A.R.) Card File
An index, by surname, to a variety of genealogical works transcribed and published by the Oregon chapters of the Daughters of the American Revolution, including cemetery records, court documents, and pioneer reminiscences.
  • Donation Land Claims
An index to the approximately 7,000 land claims filed under the federal government's Donation Land Act (1850 –1855). Entries are listed by surname of claimant or witnesses to the claim, and include brief biographical information taken from the claim form, such as dates and places of births, marriages, and arrival in Oregon, and names of spouses.

Oregon-California Trails Association[edit | edit source]

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[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]

  • Early 1800s, traders and trappers came into the area from Canada, Russia, Latin America and the United States.
  • 1830s and 1840s, other settlements were created in the Willamette River valley. These settlers generally came from Midwestern and eastern states, Canada and Russia.
  • 1843, over 900 more Americans arrived, mostly from Arkansas, Illinois, Missouri and Iowa.
  • The Oregon Donation Act of 1850 guaranteed free land to those who settled and cultivated the land before 1 December 1855. 7,437 patents were issued before the expiration of the Act.
  • New settlers surged into the Oregon Territory, primarily from the Mississippi River valley, the Midwest and the South.
  • Foreign-born immigrants came mainly from Canada, Germany, Scandinavia, England and Russia.
  • Later immigrants came from China, Japan, the Philippines and Latin America.

African Americans[edit | edit source]

Nokes, R. Gregory. Breaking Chains: Slavery on Trail in the Oregon Territory. Oregon State University Press. c. 2013 WorldCat

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]

Oregon Migration Routes[edit | edit source]

Oregon Trail · California Trail · Applegate Trail · Meek Cutoff · Whitman Mission Route · Barlow Road · Klamath Trail · Free Emigrant Road · Upper Columbia River Route · Nez Perce Trail · Lewis and Clark Trail · Santiam Wagon Road · Siskiyou Trail · Thomas and Ruckle Road · York Factory Express · Willamette Valley · Blue Mountain Pass · Rogue River Valley · Great Northern Railway (U.S.) · Union Pacific Railroad · Northern Pacific Railway · Oregon Short Line Railroad · Oregon Railroad and Navigation Company · Southern Pacific Railroad · Columbia Southern Railway · Oregon Trunk Railroad

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.