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 Tracing Immigrant Origins

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Sometimes, even after exhausting the records in the immigrantís new country, a researcher still does not know the specific town where the immigrant was born in the home country. Faced with the daunting task of finding an immigrant needle in a large, foreign haystack (often in a foreign language as well), there are unfortunately few sources in most countries with which to begin.

It is common in North American research to begin with statewide sources, such as vital record indexes or census indexes if one does not know the town where a relative lived. This works fairly well for the United States and Canada, depending on the state or province, and the time period. It is only natural to expect to use similar methods when seeking the birth of an ancestor in Denmark, France, Ireland, Italy, or any of dozens of other countries.


While such sources for our immigrantsí homes are few and far between, there are some useful sources, depending on the country where the immigrant lived. Most of the sources discussed in this lesson are most applicable to British-born immigrants. Similar sources do not exist on a nationwide scale in most continental European countries. Some do exist at a countryís state or provincial level, but even in these situations, a nationwide source is rare.

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