Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Jumping the Pond -- Lesson 3

Before searching records overseas, you will probably have to first research records in the U.S. A good place to begin is with census and naturalization records. Such records are offered for free on or with a subscription on You can also search Familysearch for information on where to locate naturalization records for your particular state or region of the U.S.  You can learn about regional National Archives or State Archives that house the records you need, or you might be able to order a microfilm from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Start with census records before researching naturalization records. You can locate your immigrant ancestor in the 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, and 1940 censuses, which recorded information regarding year of immigration and citizenship status.

Tip: Learn what the abbreviations on the census stand for. For example, AL= alien, PA= papers were filed/pending, and NA= naturalized citizenship. Also, start with the latest census and work your way back.  Information might vary from census to census.

Once you have a good idea on when your ancestor was naturalized, use the year or range of years to search for naturalization papers.

The naturalization papers will more than likely tell you the exact town/location your ancestor emigrated from to the U.S. If your ancestor's naturalization record does not divulge the information you are looking for, then check the records of other family members.

Once you have an idea of the year of immigration, check the passenger lists or ships' manifests for more information. Don't focus only on the immigration year, though. Some people I have researched returned to the home country for a visit, so you might find more than one passenger record. The more recent records will have more information about where your ancestor was headed. They will usually have a town of birth listed and the name of a relative in the country of origin. Don't forget to see if your ancestor traveled with a relative because there may be information associated with the relative that provides more information. By the way, passenger records are being indexed by Familysearch, but you can also find records with a subscription to or for free at

That's it for now! Stay tuned for more ways to search the town and country of origin so you can jump the pond.

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