South Dakota Emigration and Immigration

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South Dakota Wiki Topics
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Beginning Research
Record Types
South Dakota 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.

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]

Germans from Russia[edit | edit source]

Germans from Russia Heritage Society
1008 E Central Ave
Bismarck, ND 58501
USA
Telephone: 701-223-6167
The focus is on the Black Sea and Bessarabian Germans with assistance for the Caucasus, Crimea and other regions close to the Black Sea, with some help for other areas as well.

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]

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  • Pre-statehood settlers of South Dakota generally came from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Illinois.
  • Many of the pre-1860 settlers were of Norwegian descent.
  • The first major influx of settlers began in 1863, after passage of the first Homestead Act. Homesteaders in the late 1860s and early 1870s came from the eastern and mid-western states. Many others came from Europe, including groups of Swedes, Danes, Czechs, and Germans from Russia.
  • The Black Hills gold rush of 1875-1877 also attracted thousands of people.
  • The great Dakota land boom in northeastern and central South Dakota began in 1877 and reached its peak by 1887, two years before statehood. This boom, coinciding with the construction of railways into the region, brought many additional settlers. Immigrants of many ethnic backgrounds, especially English, Scandinavian, and Dutch, continued to come from nearby states of the upper Mississippi valley.
  • Small groups also came directly from overseas, including Welsh immigrants and additional Germans from Russia.
  • New lands became available in the western part of the state in the early 1900s, but a severe drought in 1910 and 1911 brought a temporary halt to homesteading and caused significant emigration from the state.

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]

Some settlers came to southeastern South Dakota by covered wagon across northern Iowa or southern Minnesota. Others came by railway to St. Joseph, Missouri, then by steamboat up the Missouri River.

South Dakota Migration Routes[edit | edit source]

Missouri River · Red River of the North · Great Northern Railway (U.S.) · Wadsworth 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.
  • South Dakota Research Outline. Salt Lake City, Utah: Intellectual Reserve, Inc., Family History Department, 1998, 2001.
NOTE: All of the information from the original research outline has been imported into this Wiki site and is being updated as time permits.