Finding Your Immigrant Ancestor
We Can Help
Identifying where and when your immigrant ancestor came to the United
States or to the American colonies is one of the most rewarding aspects of
genealogical research. Most everyone is eager to find their immigrant
ancestor's place of origin. It is a daunting task to many genealogists
who do not have ready access to a major records archives to find their
The First Step
To successfully locate the region from which your ancestor emigrated in Europe, we must
fully identify your ancestor in all available records in which he or she is inscribed in
the United States. It is important that we find all records that document your
- Exact and Full Name
It is necessary to account for ethnicity name variants (i.e.: Joseph Greene, an Italian
immigrant, will likely be found in passenger lists as Guiseppe Verdi) and/or formal name
changes (i.e.: many Eastern European immigrants shorted or changed their surname upon
entry into the United States).
- Vital Records Dates and Family Relationships
Birth, death and marriage records, upon availability, should be obtained as these
records often identify the immigrant's parent's names or they provide sufficient specific
dates and places of birth that will allow positive identification of the immigrant in
- Immigration Date
Census records, naturalization records and sometimes family histories will list a
specific date of immigration and a port of entry into the United States.
Naturalization records after June 1906, are extraordinarily helpful because they
contain a large amount of genealogical material. The Family History library has volumes
and volumes of these very important records.
- A History of the Immigrant's Life in America
Tracing the immigrant and his family in census records, court records, naturalization
records, vital records, military records and county histories, etc. allow us to develop a
"history" of your immigrant that will reveal his or her occupation, any
relatives in the United States, naming patterns of his or her children, and a host of
other important details. You can assist us in this step by carefully
reviewing any records that you may have at home.
The Next Step
After the above steps have been completed, we would then begin searching European
records for your ancestors.
The Family History Library holds a wealth of records for Canada, Great Britain,
Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Norway, Sweden, countries of the
former Soviet Union, and many more. We will be happy to help you locate the origins of
your immigrant ancestor.
NCGR has access to several important 20th century resources such as:
- World War I Draft Registrations.
- Canadian Border Crossings.
- Naturalization Records.
- Passenger lists for most large United States ports.
- Various military service records and pension records.
- Social Security Death Index.
NCGR also has access to many major collections of foreign passenger lists including:
- Baden, Germany, emigration index, (1866-1911)
- Bergen, Norway (1874-1924)
- Copenhagen, Denmark (1868-1911)
- Goteburg, Sweden (1869-1951)
- Hamburg, Germany (1850-1934)
- Oslo, Norway (1867-1902)
- Stockholm, Sweden (1869-1919)
- Victoria, Australia (1852-1924)
Ready to Find Out More?
Read updated information on this service, the fees, and how to
get started here.