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Use these tips to help you find your ancestors’ immigration records.
- Look for clues in census records. For instance, the 1870 census identifies citizens (they can vote), and the censuses from 1900 to 1930 give the year of immigration and indicate whether someone is a naturalized citizen.
- Check the databases on FamilySearch for your ancestors, other family members and people with the same last name, if it’s uncommon.
- Consider name changes and alternate spellings, especially if your ancestor came from a non-English-speaking country.
- Find biographies of immigrants in local history and family history books, such as those on Ancestry.com, the BYU Family History Archive, Google Book Search, HeritageQuest Online, Internet Archive and World Vital Records.
- Search for your immigrant ancestors’ names in old newspapers, such as Early American Newspapers, Series I, 1690-1876, and “Missing Friends” advertisements from the Boston Pilot newspaper.
- Check Ancestry.com’s large collection of immigration and emigration records. (Note that a key database, Passenger & Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s, isn’t part of Ancestry Library Edition.)
- If you find a reference in the Passenger & Immigration Lists Index or another index, look for the book or records online and in the Family History Library catalog.
From the December 2009 Family Tree Magazine