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Search Compiled Records First

The first sources to search among foreign records are those records containing research previously done by others. In many cases, other family historians have already learned the name of the town from which your immigrant came. A distant, unknown relative may have the information, or indexes may contain the emigrant's birth record.

A complete review of compiled records research should include indexes to books and electronic databases of research done by others. This includes the International Genealogical Index and Ancestral File from the Family History Library, as well as commercially produced material, such as World Family Tree. Also search published family histories, periodical articles, and genealogical dictionaries or compendia within the immigrant's original country.

As with all of these tactics, the specific sources will vary from country to country, but the concept is valid. You will find more compiled records for England than most other countries, but even smaller countries, such as the Netherlands, have a significant amount of compiled records and provide a good chance that your immigrant will be identified in that literature.

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