Tracing Immigrants Arrival Archives and Libraries

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In addition to the Family History Library, other record repositories and the Internet have collections you can use to find an immigrant's place of origin. Most archives and libraries focus their historical and genealogical collections on the cities, towns, counties, regions, or subjects they serve. Some have a national focus. Many have immigrant and ethnic sources.

Archive and library collections often have family and local histories, biographies, church records, cemetery record collections, immigration records, courthouse records, census, organization records, directories, newspapers, and other records relating to people in their jurisdiction. Many have special indexes and manuscript collections found only in their facilities. For example, the Immigration History Research Center at the University of Minnesota has a large collection of ethnic newspapers on microfilm that is available through interlibrary loan. It also has fraternal society membership and insurance records in its non-circulating manuscript collections.

A growing number of organizations are devoted exclusively to collecting and preserving materials for specific immigrant or ethnic groups. An example is the—

Swenson Swedish Immigration Research Center
Augustana College
639 38th Street
Rock Island, Illinois 61201-2296
Tel: 309-794-7204
Fax: 309-794-7443

The genealogical and historical collections and services of many public universities and special libraries are described in—

Bentley, Elizabeth Petty. The Genealogists's Address Book, 5th ed. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 2004. (FHL book 973 D24ben.)

Filby, P. William, comp. Directory of American Libraries with Genealogy or Local History Collections. Wilmington, Del.: Scholarly Resources, 1988. (FHL book 973 A3fi.)

Internet Directories. Most libraries and archives now offer some services on the Internet.

Joe Ryan, U.S. State Historical Societies & State Archives Directory ( : accessed 12 August 2008).

Thomas Dowling, LibWeb: Library Servers via WWW ( : accessed 12 August 2008). Directory of over 7700 library catalogs in 146 countries.

Inventories, Registers, Catalogs. Many archives and libraries have catalogs, inventories, guides, or periodicals that describe their holdings. If possible, study these guides before visiting a repository. Copies at the Family History Library are listed in the Place Search of the Family History Library Catalog under [STATE or PROVINCE], [COUNTY], [CITY] — ARCHIVES AND LIBRARY — INVENTORIES, REGISTERS, CATALOGS. One such guide for the University of Minnesota is—

Moody, Suzanna, and Joel Wurl, eds. The Immigration History Research Center: A Guide to Collections. New York: Greenwood Press, 1991. (FHL book 977.658 A3i.)

ArchiveGrid: Open Door to History ( : accessed 12 August 2008). Searching through historical documents, personal papers, and family histories held in thousands of archives around the world.

Library and Archives Canada, Canadian Genealogy Centre, AVITUS: Directory of Canadian Genealogical Resources,18 October 2005 ( : accessed 11 August 2008). Genealogical databases, catalogues and Web sites.

U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Genealogists/Family Historians ( : accessed 12 August 2008). For ancestors who interacted with the federal government, this is a great place to start.

WorldCat: Focus on Genealogy ( : accessed 12 August 2008). Tutorials and tipis for genealogists using the catalog of this library network.