Tracing Immigrants Origin History
Compiled genealogies and other sources for previous research should be the first place you look in the old country. A surprising number of genealogies, family history bibliographies, and indexes are published for many countries.
Global Indexes and Collections. These records are generally worldwide, so you only need a vague idea of a place of origin to search them. They are often available at family history centers, arranged by world region or surname.
Ancestral File links millions of computerized names into families and pedigrees. Many lines extend back to the country of origin. It also helps you find other researchers interested in the same lines.
International Genealogical Index lists millions of names by country or state. It indexes church record births and marriages and is one of the most helpful tools for localizing surnames. The index is an important source and should be one of the first places you check for all countries of origin, especially Belgium, Denmark, England, Finland, Liechtenstein, Mexico, Norway, Scotland, Sweden, Switzerland, and Wales.
Family Group Records Collection (Archive and Patron)includes family sheets arranged alphabetically by the father's name. Many lines are followed back to the emigrant's place of origin.
Collaboration e-mail lists register individuals who are researching specific surnames and who will share their information with you. . An international query registry is Keith A. Johnson and Malcolm R. Sainty's Genealogical Research Directory (Washington, D.C.: Johnson & Sainty, 1985- Annual; FHL book 929.1025 G286grd).
Family Histories. Your ancestor's birthplace may be published in a family history. Often books published in foreign countries follow family lines down to the name of a family member who emigrated. You may be able to identify an individual in a foreign family history as being your ancestor.
Genealogical Bibliographies and Indexes. Many countries have bibliographies of published family histories with alphabetical indexes to the major surnames. Periodical indexes may also help you locate emigrant families. The genealogies cited in these bibliographies or indexes often mention emigrants. The comprehensiveness of these bibliographies and indexes varies by country. Important examples are—
Arnaud, Étienne. Repertoire de généalogies françaises imprimées. [French genealogical bibliography]. 3 vols. Paris: Berger Levrault, 1978-1982. (FHL book 944 D23a).
Van Beresteyn, E.A. Genealogisch Repertorium. [Dutch Genealogical Bibliography]. Den Haag, Netherlands: Centraal Bureau voor Genealogie, 1972. (FHL book 949.2 D25b.)
Marshall, George W., ed. The Genealogist's Guide. Reprint of 1903 ed. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1980. (FHL book 929.142 M356g; film 496,451.)
Whitmore, John B. A Genealogist's Guide: An Index to British Pedigrees in Continuation of Marshall's Genealogist's Guide (1903). London: Walford Bro., 1953. (FHL book 929.142 M356g supp.; fiche 6054492.)
See the Place Search of the Family History Library Catalog under—
[COUNTRY] - GENEALOGY - BIBLIOGRAPHY
[COUNTRY] - GENEALOGY - INDEXES
Genealogical Compendia. These collected genealogies (lineages) of thousands of families often mention emigrants. The higher social classes are better represented in most compendia. They are often published as periodicals, and many have indexes. An outstanding series with over 197 volumes for Germany is the—
Deutsches Geschlechterbuch [German lineage book]. Limburg an der Lahn: C.A. Starke, 1889-. (FHL book 943 D2dg.)