If you are seeking emigrants with names like Johann Schmidt
or Patrick O'Brian, how will you know if the person you find in a foreign
record is that emigrant, or just someone else with the same name. The
answer of course is that, through your research, you know the emigrant's
precise birth date, and his or her father's name, and perhaps the emigrant's
middle name, spouse, brother, or other relative. The more such "identifying"
information you know about your emigrant, the more likely you will correctly
recognize him or her in these records.
These records may then identify the specific town where
the emigrant lived before coming to the new world. That will then unlock
the key to further information about the emigrant and his or her family.
Many of the following records may be difficult to access.
Often they are not on microfilm, and exist only at archives in the foreign
country. They may also not be nationwide in scope. Depending on the governmental
level which kept the record, they may pertain to a county, district, region,
or some other administrative unit. In such cases, it is best when your
previous research has already suggested an area within a country where
the immigrant may have lived. The more specific and limited that area,
the better you will be able to make these sources work for you.
Therefore, begin by learning if published abstracts of
a particular record for a specific country or region are available. Where
such records have a bearing on finding the homes of immigrants, they may
have been published, thus improving both access and availability.