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Tracing Your Immigrant Ancestor’s Record Trail

U.S. Immigration Records


Although stories of ancestors stowing away on ships are dramatic and exciting, they are almost never true. In reality, immigration came with a lot of red tape—just as it does now. And for a genealogist, that red tape is useful because it often left behind a trail of records as our ancestors went through the immigration process.

While each immigration story is unique, many of our ancestors passed through similar checkpoints and created similar records. Often our ancestors had to get permission of some kind from their home country.

Your ancestors could be included in numerous records—including records that give insight into their immigration experience or their lives in their home countries.