Arkansas Emigration and Immigration

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Portal:United States Emigration and Immigration >Arkansas

Very few Europeans came to the Arkansas area during the years of French and Spanish rule, 1686 to 1803. The 1810 census of the Louisiana Territory listed only 1,062 non-Indian residents in the entire District of Arkansas.

Immigration began in earnest with the cotton boom of 1818. Many families of Scottish, Scotch-Irish, and English descent moved overland from Virginia and the Carolinas through Tennessee and Mississippi or Missouri. They often brought slaves with them. In 1860, Black slaves comprised over one fourth of the population. Most Arkansans today are descended from Anglo-Saxon and Black families who came from older southern states before 1900.

About 1867, the rich land between the Arkansas and White rivers beckoned to large groups of Southern European emigrants. Many families from Poland settled in Pulaski County. A number of Italians located in the northwestern part of the state.

The last Indian tribeshad been removed from Arkansas to present-day Oklahoma by 1835. Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs have been transcribed in Jack D. Baker, Cherokee Emigration Rolls, 1817-1835 (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma: Baker Pub., 1977; Family History Library book 970.3 C424be).

Some immigrants landed at New Orleansand traveled up the Mississippi River to Arkansas. The Family History Library has passenger lists for New Orleans from 1820 to 1921 and indexes from 1820 to 1952. The National Archives has passenger lists through 1945 and indexes to 1952. More detailed information on immigration sources is in the United States Research Outline.


Arkansas Research Outline. Salt Lake City, Utah: Intellectual Reserve, Inc., Family History Department,1998, 2001.