Tracking Your Ancestors' Migrations
Turn to these records for help learning where and when your ancestors moved.

Americans have always been an itchy-footed bunch: Even in this country's earliest days, people were pulling up stakes and heading westward in search of land and opportunity. Retracing their paths can prove crucial to retracing generations of your family—and these six sources and clues will help you follow their footsteps.

  1. US census
    One of the best and simplest sources for tracing migrations is the US census. Beginning in 1850, it named all individuals, not just heads of household, and added the state of birth. From 1880 on, it also recorded the birthplaces of each person's parents, giving you clues to where the family migrated from.