Tracing Immigrants Arrival Biography

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The Family History Library and other major research libraries have thousands of biographical books, articles, films, and microfiche. Such works often provide exact information on an immigrant's origin. If not, they may have clues that could help you find it. Biographies may suggest an ethnic background or give the original spelling of the surname or locality.

Biographical sketches are often found in local collective biographical works and local histories. These were very common in the latter half of the nineteenth century. Many other biographical records have been published.

Two sources that can help you find out if a biographical sketch may have been written about your ancestor are—

Slocum, Robert D. Biographical Dictionaries and Related Works. 2 vols., 2nd ed. Detroit: Gale Research Co., 1986. (FHL book 016.92 SLo53 1986.) This bibliography lists over 16,000 collective biographies from around the world.

Herbert, Miranda C., and Barbara McNeil, eds., Biography and Genealogy Master Index. 8 vols., 5 vols., 3 vols, and annual supps. since 1990. Detroit: Gale Research Co., 1980, 1985-. (FHL book Ref 016.92 G131.) This work indexes more than eight million biographies of nearly three million individuals. It indexes about 2,000 volumes of nationwide sources, but it does not include local biographical sources. Most large libraries will have it.