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 Tracing Immigrant Origins

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  • Young males may have had to be released from military obligations (or fulfill them before leaving).

  • Members of some religious denominations may have requested a letter of recommendation to take to their new parish.

  • Eventually emigrants would have to purchase tickets for the trip.

These steps should have generated some record that will document your ancestors' passage. Some are rare, and difficult to find. Many (such as military releases, land deeds or church letters) are not true emigration records. Often, the most useful documents that you'll find are those that were created along the voyage -- passenger lists (discussed in the last lesson) and permissions to emigrate.

Permission to Emigrate

woman looking at listThe permit to emigrate certified that the man had paid his bills, settled his affairs in the community, and was free to leave. The passport allowed him to cross country, provincial and district boundaries. In some countries, the permit to emigrate and the passport were combined in a single exit visa issued by district or provincial authorities. These identification papers were carried by the emigrant and copies may still be in the family's possession today.

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