Finding Town of Origin - United States Immigration

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How to find birth records, marriage records and death records, Finding Town of Origin - United States Immigration

Do You Know When Your Ancestor Immigrated to the United States?

I know the time period


Click on the Migration Wave Covering the Year Your Ancestor Came to the United States.

I do not know the time period


Below is a list of record collections that can give clues to immigration years


Sometimes the immigration year or naturalization year of an ancestor can easily be located by doing a name search in online databases. However, sometimes these can be harder to locate. Below is a list of other records in the United States that can be searched for immigration years. For an article with additional resources and search suggestions see U. S. Immigration Records: Finding the Town of Origin.

Census Records

Below is a table with possible immigration information found in the United States Census records. The below information can give clues as to when a person immigrated. Beginning in 1850, the United States censuses listed the birthplace of a person. This information can be helpful in knowing the country of origin. These earlier census records can also give clues as to when a family immigrated to the United States if some of the children were born in their homeland country and some in the United States. This is helpful in narrowing down the year of immigration. As noted in the table, some of the later censuses provide an estimated or exact year of immigration as well. NOTE: The immigration years can vary from census to census, especially if the person immigrated as a child and did not remember the year exactly.

Census Year Wiki Article about the Census Websites Information found in census
1850 United States Census 1850 FamilySearch $
Birthplace of individual given.
1860 United States Census 1860 FamilySearch $

Birthplace of individual given.
1870 United States Census 1870 FamilySearch $

Birthplace of individual given, if parents were of foreign birth, and whether or not they're a male citizen of the United States over 21 years of age (this is helpful in knowing whether they have been naturalized or not).
1880 United States Census 1880 FamilySearch $

Birthplace of individual and parents.
1890 United States Census 1890 FamilySearch $

The majority of this census was destroyed and there are very few records remaining. Birthplace of individual and their parents, number of years in the United States, whether or not the person was naturalized, whether or not they had their naturalization papers taken out, if they did not speak English then what language.
1900 United States Census 1900 FamilySearch $

Birthplace of individual and parents, year of immigration, years in the United States, whether or not naturalized.
1910 United States Census 1910 FamilySearch $

Birthplace of individual and parents, year of immigration, naturalized or alien, whether they speak English or if not what language.
1920 United States Census 1920 FamilySearch $

Birthplace and mother tongue of individual and parents, year of immigration, naturalized or alien, year of naturalization, whether or not they spoke English.
1930 United States Census 1930 FamilySearch $

Birthplace of individual and parents, language spoken at home before coming to the United States, year of immigration, whether or not naturalized, whether able to speak English.
1940 United States Census 1940 FamilySearch $

Birthplace of individual, Citizenship status for those foreign-born, where the individual lived in 1935 (this is especially helpful if the person immigrated around this time).

Military Records

Military records often state the birthplace of individuals. If the person of interest was in the United States during a mandatory draft or they were known to have served in the United States military, these records could give possible clues.

Online Naturalization Resources

Since the adoption of the United States constitution, there have been naturalization laws and regulations in place. The naturalization process often took place in county courts. To learn more about the naturalization process and what records are available see United States Naturalization and Citizenship.

Vital Records

Vital records can be helpful in discovering when a person came over; you can find clues based on where they or their parents were born. Sometimes the town of origin will be listed on the death certifcates or marriage. However, the information contained on these records is only as accurate as the memory of the person relaying the information.

Migration Routes/Communities

Researching the migration patterns of where a person lived can give possible clues as to where they originated from. A lot of people moved where people from their homelands had already set up residence. If you know the community where they lived look up the history of it.