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Lesson:4 Departure Lists

Most of the foreign sources we have discussed, and yet will discuss are very broad sources which, while they may identify and name the emigrant, also include thousands of local persons who never emigrated. Hence, there is a great amount of research "noise" (as far as an emigrant origins researcher is concerned) in the inclusion of non-emigrants in such records. Because of this situation, it may be difficult to determine if a person found in such records (civil, church, census, etc.) is really the emigrant sought, or simply someone with the right age and name.

There are, however, for most countries of our ancestors, two broad types of records that focus specifically on emigrants. Because of their focus on identifying persons who left the home country, these various records are often grouped together, often under a term such as "Emigration Lists." While they are indeed lists of emigrants, it is important to understand the differences between the two major types of these lists. These two groups include:

  • Actual lists of departing residents, notably passenger lists

  • Lists of those persons requesting permission to emigrate

Both of these types of lists are very important to emigrant origins research, but researchers need to understand the fundamental differences between them, which include not only who is listed, but the information recorded, and, perhaps most importantly, the manner of finding and searching such lists. Therefore, we will discuss the first group in this lesson, with the second group covered in the next lesson.

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