In this intermediate course, we will explore the key
sources useful to find the origins of immigrants who arrived before
about 1900. Of course, some of those immigrants may appear in the sources
we discussed in the introductory course, but now we are beginning more
difficult cases. Indeed, the further back in time the immigrant arrived,
the more difficult it is to locate his or her origins in the home country.
Remember, as we study these various sources, they may also well apply to
immigrants who came during different time periods. We are simply discussing
the various records in the immigration time period where these sources
are most helpful.
During this intermediate course, we will discuss three different immigration
time periods and, within those three time periods, we will discuss six or
seven different groups of records for each period.
The first period we will cover deals with immigrants
who arrived after the U.S. Civil War (between about 1865 and 1900). These
will be called "Post Civil War Immigrant Sources."
Later lessons will cover immigrants who arrived between
1820 and the Civil War. These will be called "Sources for
Immigrant Origins, 1820-1860."
The final phase in this course will discuss sources for
pre-1820 immigrants. These will be called "Sources for Tracing
With an understanding of the methodology and sources taught in the introductory
and intermediate courses, you will be ready for Course 4: Tracing Immigrant
Origins Part III, Sources from the Country of Origin.
As we learned in the introductory course, we always try to locate an immigrant's
origin using records in the U.S. However, for some difficult problems,
we need to consider foreign sources which document the home town. This can be
a particularly difficult approach but, when done well, can be rewarding.
For now, let's focus on what we can learn from sources in the U.S. and Canada.
Even if we don't learn the specific town from which an individual
emigrated in these sources, they will provide crucial information for our