Departing passenger lists are not the only record that
an emigrant may have left behind in the old country to document his or
her departure. While passenger lists are relatively easy to understand
(even if they don't exist for all ports), and theoretically would have
included virtually all emigrants, there are a variety of other emigration
documents you can pursue in your research. These lists vary significantly
from country to country (and even from state to state within some countries)
and are often not as comprehensive as passenger lists were intended to
be. They also often pertain to a smaller area, such as a region, district,
or province; seldom to an entire country.
What they have in common is that they do list known emigrants.
Many are lists of permission granted by the local government for a resident
or family to leave. Others are lists of those known to have left, but
the lists were gathered sometime after the emigrants departed. There are
also a few lists of clandestine (illegal, non-permitted) emigrants, although
such lists are obviously incomplete.
- When a family or an individual decided to emigrate,
there were several steps they usually followed, some to comply with
the law, some to prepare for their journey, and some from local custom
or tradition. Some of these steps generated records.
- Often a country required that the emigrant receive
permission to leave. If the emigrant obeyed this law (it is estimated
that 30 to 50% left without permission), an application to leave and/or
a passport may exist for your ancestor.
- If the family owned property, they may have sold
it. If they abandoned their property, it may show up on tax lists after
the taxes became delinquent.