Utah Emigration and Immigration

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Portal:United States Emigration and Immigration >Utah

The "Emigration and Immigration" section of the United States Research Outline lists several important sources for finding information about immigrants. The Tracing Immigrant Origins FamilySearch Wiki article introduces the principles, search strategies, and additional record types you can use to identify an immigrant ancestor's hometown.

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were the pioneer settlers of Utah and have always accounted for a high percentage of the population. The first wagon train of pioneers entered the Salt Lake Valley in 1847. By the time the railroad reached Utah in 1869, more than 69,000 Mormons had made the trek across the Great Plains.

Early pioneers came primarily from the New England, mid-Atlantic, and Midwestern states as well as Canada and Great Britain. The population of the early settlements grew because of missionary work overseas. British converts formed the largest foreign-born immigrant group followed by the Scandinavians. Significant numbers also came from France, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands.

Other LDS pioneers came from such divers areas as Australia, South Africa, the Pacific Islands, and the Near East. A few African-Americans were among the earliest arrivals in Salt Lake.

Members of other denominations migrated to Utah from all parts of the United States and from other countries. The California Gold Rush and the western movement brought new settlers. Jewish merchants established businesses. United States military personnel arrived in the 1850s and 1860s. Some chose to stay when their service ended.

Emigration and Immigration Records

Since most of the immigrants were members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, check Tracing LDS Ancestors. There is an extensive list of emigration and immigration records and indexes.

One major index of Utah immigrants is:

Utah Immigration Card Index, 1847-1868, Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1963. (Family History Library films 298440–42.) This is also known as the "Crossing the Plains Index." This is an incomplete but valuable list of the pioneers who crossed the plains before the railroad reached Utah in 1869. It is arranged alphabetically by head of the family. Most of the information has been taken from the Journal History of the Church.

Histories of some of the groups who traveled together to Utah have been published. During the 1997 sesquicentennial celebration of the arrival of the pioneers, many new materials were published. Many list the names of those who immigrated. Check the Family History Library Catalog for these newer histories. The Church History Library of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is creating a computer index. The new index should be more comprehensive.

A number of serial publications by the Daughters of Utah Pioneers include lists of the names of pre-1869 immigrants, names of those who died along the trail, accounts of the journey, and other pioneer information. Many of these were published for the centennial of a group's year of immigration. There is some duplication in these publications and they are listed in order of publication dates. The sources Heart Throbs of the West, Treasures of Pioneer History, Our Pioneer Heritage, Lessons, An Enduring Legacy, and Chronicles of Courage are cited in the "Biography" section of this outline.

Passenger Arrival Records

Many LDS immigrants leaving Europe and Great Britain came on chartered ships from Liverpool, England. Between 1840 and 1854, New Orleans was the major port of arrival for LDS immigrant ships. Between 1855 and 1890, most of the ships arrived in New York, Philadelphia, or Boston. Suggestions for help in locating your immigrant ancestor can be found in the Tracing LDS Ancestors.

Records of Other Immigrant Groups

Histories of the various immigrant groups to Utah identify a few of the individuals who settled here. There was no port of entry common to the non-LDS overseas immigrants. The Family History Library and the National Archives have passenger lists for east coast and some west coast ports between 1820 and about 1920. See the United States portal and Tracing Immigrant Origins for these passenger lists. See the "Minorities" section of this outline for further information about other immigrant groups.

The Oregon-California Trails Association is an educational organization that promotes the story of the westward migration to Utah, among other places. Their site includes a personal name index to trail diaries, journals, reminiscences, autobiographies, newspaper articles, guidebooks and letters at http://www.paper-trail.org/

Web Sites