Nebraska Emigration and Immigration

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

How to Find the Records[edit | edit source]

Nebraska, being entirely inland, has no seaports. Immigrants would have initially arrived at a port on the coast. To search those records, see United States Immigration Online Genealogy Records. In the 1850's, a major port of entry to Nebraska was New Orleans. Steamboats transported settlers and goods up the Mississippi-Missouri river system to Council Bluffs and Winter Quarters (Florence). The Civil War and the coming of the railroad in the 1860's put an end to the steamboat business. After that time, overseas immigrants landed at the port of New York and other east coast ports, and then traveled overland to Nebraska.

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.

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-California Trails Association[edit | edit source]

Oregon-California Trails Association is an educational organization that promotes the story of the westward migration to Nebraska, 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.

Orphan Train[edit | edit source]

  • From the 1860's through the early 1900's, many New York City orphans came by train and were adopted by Nebraska families. Information on the orphans' trains is being collected for the Nebraska State Historical Society by Eloise Thomsen, 5843 Grant Street, Omaha, NE 68104.

Germans from Russia[edit | edit source]

Germans from Russia Heritage Society
1008 E Central Ave
Bismarck, ND 58501
USA
Telephone: 701-223-6167

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


  • Permanent white settlement began at Bellevue in the region south of present-day Omaha. The Indian Intercourse Act of 1834 reserved the rest of Nebraska as part of Indian Territory.
  • Mormon Pioneers were permitted temporary settlement at Winter Quarters from 1846 to 1847, but Nebraska was not officially opened for white settlement until passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Bill in 1854.
  • Between 1834 and 1854, an estimated 350,000 pioneers passed through the Platte Valley along the Oregon, California, and Mormon trails. Most continued westward rather than settling in Nebraska.
  • After the Civil War, many Union veterans and other settlers arrived from the eastern United States to claim lands available under the Homestead Act of 1862. These settlers generally were from Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, and Missouri.
  • Immigrants from Europe also arrived in search of land. The largest overseas groups came from Germany, Sweden, the British Isles, Bohemia, Canada, and Denmark. In addition, many Germans immigrated from Russia.
  • Small groups of Polish and Italian settlers settled in Omaha in 1885.
  • African Americans were in Nebraska before the Civil War, but many more arrived in the late nineteenth century, especially in the Omaha area.
  • American Indians had largely been dispossessed of their Nebraska lands and removed to present-day Oklahoma by 1880, but Santee Sioux, Omaha, and Winnebago Indians still live on two small reservations in the state.
  • New settlement virtually ceased in the 1890s, although a large section of northwest Nebraska was not completely homesteaded until after World War I.

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]

Nebraska Migration Routes[edit | edit source]

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


Missouri River · Bozeman Trail · California Trail · Mormon Trail · Oregon Trail · Union Pacific Railroad

For Further Reading[edit | edit source]

The FamilySearch Library has additional sources listed in their catalog:

References[edit | edit source]

  • Nebraska Research Outline. Salt Lake City, Utah: Intellectual Reserve, Inc., Family History Department, 1998, 2001. (NOTE: All of the information from the original research article has been imported into this Wiki site and is being updated as time permits.)
  1. "Genealogy", at USCIS, https://www.uscis.gov/records/genealogy, accessed 26 March 2021.