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 Tracing Immigrant Origins

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Lesson 1: Tactics for Using Foreign Sources

The past courses identified key principles and sources to use when seeking the town of foreign origin for an immigrant. It is crucial to recognize that your research efforts should always begin with sources in the country where the immigrant settled, such as the United States or Canada. This is because for the vast majority of immigrants, it is these records, in their new country, which will eventually yield the name of their ancestral home. And, as we have discussed, there is a wealth of information in the country where your ancestor settled. However, at some point in your research into the origins of an immigrant ancestor, you might finally run out of American sources to search or you might be seeking an immigrant for whom no American record seems to provide the key information you need. Under those rare circumstances, you still should not give up. It is possible, with some immigrants, to properly identify them using sources in their home country if you:
  • Do not proceed too quickly into such sources.
  • Know a lot of information about the immigrant and his or her family in order to effectively use foreign sources.

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