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 Tracing Immigrant Origins

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No Magic Source

Clearly, there is no magic source; one that always correctly indicates which town an immigrant came from in the old country. The lack of such a source makes this aspect of family history perhaps the most difficult, and surely one of the most fascinating. Each source is valuable under different circumstances.

The following factors all affect the value of any source for naming an immigrant's home town:

  • How comprehensive the source was in listing immigrants
  • Time period of the source
  • Information the source recorded
  • Ethnic group of the immigrant
  • Religion of the immigrant
  • When the immigrant arrived
  • The age upon arrival of the immigrant
  • When the immigrant died (including how soon after arrival)
  • Gender of the immigrant
  • Other family members who immigrated

The key consideration as to which source to use depends on in which time period the immigrant arrived. Some sources didn't even exist when the earliest immigrants arrived in North America. Most sources changed over time, usually adding more information, to the point that some eventually required the inclusion of the home town. Some sources are better at times simply because they have a better chance of including your immigrant.

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