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