did emigrants to America come from? The largest source was Europe. The
most common places of embarkation were ports on the North Sea, Baltic
Sea, Atlantic Ocean, and Mediterranean Sea. There are a few border cities,
like Strasbourg, France, that served as conduits to ports. Port authorities
and customs officials at border crossing stations maintained records of
emigrants traveling through their jurisdictions. City officials and inn
keepers also kept records of emigrants. Where are these records today
and how can researchers use them?
Microfilmed copies of some passenger departure lists are available
at LDS family history centers. The largest collections are from Germany,
Denmark, Sweden, Norway; and France. To find emigrant records from a
specific country, researchers need only use the Family History Library
Catalog-Locality Search. A search under the name of the port city at
which ancestors embarked will show whether or not the Family History
Library has microfilmed passenger departure lists or other port records
naming emigrants. Passenger lists are described under the catalog topic
Often lists of departing emigrants are also kept by local police.
If the Family History Library has filmed these records they will appear
under the name of the port city and under the topic Police Records.
If no records appear in the Family History Library Catalog under the
name of the port city, researchers should search under the name of the
capital city for the province or state in which the port is located.
If historians cannot find the emigrant records they seek in the Family
History Library Catalog, they should turn to archives in port cities
and in the capital cities of the provinces and states in which the ports
are located. Letters to archivists with questions about passenger lists
and other records created by local authorities to track emigrants will
reveal that there are significant collections of such records in many
European countries. But how do genealogists find the addresses of archives
in other countries than their own? Three approaches can be used.
The simplest is to call the embassy of the country from which ancestors
emigrated. They will be able to provide addresses of archives or of
offices that can deal with the researchers questions.
The second approach is to visit a local library and ask the reference
librarian if the latest edition of the book The World of Learning
is available there. The
World of Learning lists the addresses of universities, libraries, historical
societies, and archives for most of the countries of the world. Although
city archives and some provincial or state archives may not be listed,
the addresses of the national archives will be found in this volume.
Family historians can write to the national archives to find the address
of the specific archive with records they need.
The third approach utilizes local LDS family history centers. The
Family History Library has a large collection of archival inventories
and directories to archives from many countries. A Family History Library
Catalog locality search under the name of the country where ancestors
originated and under the topic Archives Directories or Archives
Inventories will produce list of books with the needed information.
These books can be sought in other libraries with the help of the interlibrary
loan librarian at any public or college library.