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Now, for the rest of us, for whom the immigrant has already died, remember that the recent nature of their immigration means that many more records about them are available. Records are available from various government and private organizations. During the 20th century, each of us, especially immigrants, filled out numerous forms, wrote letters, and, above all else, kept an astounding number of papers that document our existence. For immigrants, many of those documents mention their home town.

Family and Home Sources

Usually the easiest place to obtain these records is from family members. In almost every family, one or two members, perhaps more, become the "unofficial" family record holders. Perhaps we should call them the "family archivist." For some reason, key family documents end up in their hands. This is not referring to a child's birth certificate, church baptismal record or similar records, which the parents usually have on file, but rather to older documents pertaining to (usually) deceased relatives. If you don't already know who is your "family archivist," ask around. It may be a second cousin, great aunt, reclusive uncle, or other family member, but if you ask enough relatives, someone will tell you.

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