Actually, any new information you learn about an immigrant
is an additional identifier: from their occupation, to their internal
migration patterns, to their children's names. All of these, and more,
make our immigrant ancestor(s) unique individuals, each with a different
story. However, our concern is learning where they came from in the
old country, and there are some identification facts that simply are
more helpful in this kind of research than others. Among other information,
- Immigration information
- Other family members
- Friends and neighbors
- Geographic clues
immigration records seldom, before the twentieth century, name the specific
town where the immigrant lived, immigration information can be a crucial
means of identifying the immigrant. With the date, arrival and departure
ports, and possibly the ship's name, the researcher is able to locate
more information about the immigrant, including possible relatives.
In cases where the home town is never learned, knowing exactly when
a person, or family, immigrated, allows you to search the departure
records (when they exist) in the old country. And, these records almost
always provide the town of origin.
Other immigration information includes naturalization
status. Again, prior to the twentieth century, most naturalization records
do not name specific towns in the old country, but they do document
immigration. Further, in the form of the witnesses' names in those papers,
they may identify relatives or friends of the family (see the next page).
Just remember, usually only adult males were naturalized, and while
a colony still belonged to the mother country, immigrants from that
country did not need to be naturalized (thus British citizens were not
naturalized in the future United States until after the Revolutionary
War, and in Canada not until after Confederation).