Peru Emigration and Immigration
Emigration and immigration sources list the names of people leaving (emigration) or coming into (immigration) Peru. These sources are usually passenger lists, permissions to emigrate, records of passports issued, or lists of prisoners deported. The information in these records may include the emigrants’ names, ages, occupations, destinations, and places of origin or birthplaces.
In addition to their usefulness in determining where an immigrant lived prior to leaving his or her native country, these records can help in constructing family groups. If you don’t find your ancestor, you may find emigration information on neighbors of your ancestor. People who lived near each other often settled together in the country they emigrated to.
People emigrated from Peru to the United States, Canada, Brazil, Ecuador, Chile, Colombia, Bolivia, Mexico, Australia, and other countries. The emigration to the United States began in the mid-1850s and much earlier to South American countries. Most of the early emigrants to the United States of America settled in California. Emigration was minimal, however, until after the 1940s, when many Peruvians left for the west coast of the United States, Canadian British Columbia, and other countries.
Finding the Emigrant’s Town of Origin
Once you have traced your family back to your immigrant ancestor, you must determine the city or town the ancestor was from. Peru has no nationwide index to birth, marriage, or death records. Vital records were kept locally with duplicates sent to the Superior Court of Justice of the Republic (Corte Superior de Justicia de la República).
There are several sources that may help you find your ancestor’s place of origin. You may be able to learn the town your ancestor came from by talking to older family members. Members of your family or a library may have documents that name the city or town, such as:
- Birth, marriage, and death certificates
- Family Bibles
- Church certificates or records
- Naturalization applications and petitions
- Passenger lists
- Family heirlooms
A good book on Peruvian immigration is:
- Arona, Juan de. La Inmigración en el Perú (Immigration in Peru). Lima: Biblioteca Pública de la Cámara de Diputados, 1971. (FHL book 985 W2a.)
Additional information about finding the origins of immigrant ancestors is given in Tracing Your Immigrant Origins (34111).
Emigration from Spain
Before 1775, most of the emigrants from Spain came from the regions of Castilla, Andalucía, or Extremadura. The people from Cataluña, Aragón, Galicia, and Vascongadas were excluded from the Americas by the Court of the Indies (Consejo de Indias). After 1775, Carlos III of Spain gave permission to all Spaniards to colonize any part of Spanish America. Emigrants from Spain left records documenting their migration in the port of departure as well as in the country they moved to.
People desiring to emigrate from Spain or those migrating within the colonies in South America were required to register at the time of departure. Some of these records include:
- Permissions to emigrate
- Probates of relatives who stayed
- Church records (annotations)
- Court records
These records are not available for research at the Family History Library but may be found at the national archives of the departure country.
Colonial Period (1492–1821)
Various Spanish archives have records that may show the emigrant’s origin. The principle archives are the General Archives of the Indies (Archivo General de Indias) in Seville, Spain; the Military Archives of Segovia; and the General Archive of Simancas. For further information on military archives, see the “Military Records” and “Archives and Libraries” sections of this outline.
You may want to look for your ancestor’s records in the following sections of the General Archives of the Indies:
- Informaciones de Méritos y Servicios de los Descubridores/Conquistadores (Information on Merits and Services of the Discoverers and Conquerors): This includes documents of the ships and passengers who sailed to the colonies during the early 1500’s.
- Casa de Contratación de las Indias (House of Contracts of the Indies): This is an excellent documentation of passenger lists for ships sailing to the American colonies between 1509 and 1701, as well as petitions and licenses for permission to emigrate during the period 1534 to 1790.
For early emigration, you should search the following book, which indexes documents of the ships and passengers who sailed to the colonies during the early 1500s:
- Catálogo de Pasajeros a las Indias durante los Siglos XVI, XVII, y XVIII (Catalog of Passengers to the Indies during the 16th, 17th, and 18th Centuries). Seville: s.n., 1940– . (FHL book 946 W2sa; films 0277577–0277578.)
Ship arrivals and passenger lists provide the best documentation of immigrants who came to South America after the middle of the 19th century. These records are housed in the national archives of each of the countries in South America. (For information about archives, see the “Archives and Libraries” section of this outline.)
Other important sources of information for your immigrant ancestors are the emigration records that may exist from the departure port city.
During the early period, most Spanish emigrants left through the ports of Seville, Cádiz, San Lucar de Barrameda, and Málaga in southern Spain. These records were housed in the cities of Cádiz and Seville. Later the ports of San Sebastián, Bilbao, Santander, and La Coruña in northern Spain were added as departure cities not only for Spaniards but also for other Europeans. These emigrants most always traveled first to Islas Canarias (the Canary Islands), where they resided for a short time, before continuing travel to the Americas. Currently these records are housed in the General Archive of the Indies in Seville.
The records of departures from these ports are called passenger lists. The information contained in these lists varies over time but usually includes the emigrant’s name, age, occupation, and destination. The lists may also include the names of other family members, and the emigrant’s last town of residence or birthplace.
Emigration to America slowed drastically between 1790–1825 due to wars of independence in the Latin American colonies. Beginning in 1840, an increased number of people immigrated to Latin America seeking religious, economical, or political freedom. The first major group of immigrants were Chinese laborers who came between 1850–1875 to work on the guano deposits of the Chincha Islands and on the railroads.
Emigration from Japan
Many Japanese immigrant laborers arrived in Peru at the end of the 19th century and early 20th century. Japanese trade with Peru expanded after World War II. The following records, located in Japan, contain information about these Japanese immigrants:
- Per-koku e honpjin dekasegi ikken (Japanese ‘Away-from-Home’ Workers in Peru). Tky: Kokusai Maikuo Shashin Kgysha, [n.d.]. (FHL film 1591703 item 3–1591708 item 2.)
- Per imin kankei zakken (Japanese Emigration to Peru). Tky: Kokusai Maikuo Shashin Kgysha, [n.d.]. (FHL film 1264041–1264042, 1264044–45, 1250049, 1250051.) This contains assorted papers on Japanese emigration to Peru that were handled 1899–1921.
- Nihonjin Per ij no kiroku (The Japanese Immigrants to Peru). Tky: Shadan Hjin Raten Amerika Kykai, 1969. (FHL book 985 W2n.)
- Imin unssen kankei zakken (Papers on Japanese Emigration). Tky: Kokusai Maikuro Shashin Kgysha, [n.d.]. (FHL film 1250044, 1264047–1264049, 1250066.)
Emigration from Other Areas
Most people who emigrated from Europe left through the ports of Hamburg, LeHavre, Liverpool, Naples, Rotterdam, or Trieste. The records of Hamburg and some other European ports have been microfilmed and are available in the collection of the Family History Library. The Hamburg passenger lists and indexes are most fully described in the Wiki article Hamburg Passenger Lists. Also, the Family History Library has the Hamburg Passenger List 1850-1934 Resource Guide, and microfiche instructions Hamburg Passenger Lists.
Other emigration and immigration records for Peru include:
- Emigración china para el Perú, 1854-1876 (Chinese Emigration to Peru, 1854–1876). Arequipa: Onvento del la Merced, 1990. (FHL film 1563431 item 7.) This book includes the records of the Chinese immigrants who came from Macao.
- Reseñas de pasaportes de varios consulados, 1921-1939 (Muster of the Passports of Various Consulates, 1921–1939). Bogotá: Archivo General de Colombia, 1987. (FHL film 1511647 items 7.)
- Yugoslavos en el Perú (Yugoslavs in Peru). Lima: Editorial “La Equidad,” 1985. (FHL book 985 F2m.)
- German Emigrants from Württemberg 1851 to Peru. An Index created by F.M. Stieler of Heilbronn in 1851 of emigrants leaving from Neckarkreis, Schwarzwaldkreis, Jagstkreis, Donaukreis, and other areas of Württemberg. The article was written by Karl Werner Klüber and can be found in GENEALOGIE, Heft 3, 19. Jahrgang, March 1970 page 76, call number 943 B2gf, yr.19 at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.
- Another article by Klüber deals with emigration to Peru between 1877 and 1902 from other areas of Germany and can be found in the above mentioned volume on page 301.
See also the “Minorities” section of this outline.
Immigration to Peru
The main port of entry for most immigrants to Peru was Callao, near Lima. Unfortunately, no passenger lists of immigrants arriving in Callao have been microfilmed. Such records may exist in the archives of Peru.
Records at the Family History Library
The Family History Library has some microfilm copies of records and related books. The film or call numbers of these records are listed in the locality section of the Family History Library Catalog:
PERU - EMIGRATION AND IMMIGRATION
SPAIN - EMIGRATION AND IMMIGRATION
See also records under the heading Colonization:
PERU - COLONIZATION