Moving around the world was just as common in the time of your ancestors as it is today. Between 1836 and 1914, more than 30 million Europeans migrated to the United States in search of jobs and a better life. Trace the whereabouts of your emigrant ancestors in more than 38 million migration records and passenger lists.
The United States was founded by people who set out to discover new lands, new opportunities and a better way of life. Between 1836 and 1914, more than 30 million Europeans migrated to the United States, despite the harrowing fact that one in seven travelers died during the transatlantic voyage.
Our ancestors brought with them family, friends, and a wealth of culture that contributed to the melting pot that is American society today.
The history of immigration in the U.S. is divided into four major periods of mass migration. During the colonial period in the 17th century, about 400,000 people from England emigrated to the burgeoning New World. More than half of all European immigrants to Colonial America during the 1600s and 1700s arrived as indentured servants. The mid-19th century brought more immigrants from Northern Europe. In the early 20th century most new immigrants came from Southern and Eastern Europe. Then, in the middle of the 20th century, most immigrants came from Latin America and Asia.
By the year 1910, 13.5 million immigrants lived in the United States. Congress passed the Emergency Quota Act in 1921, followed by the Immigration Act of 1924, which was designed to restrict immigration from Southern and Eastern Europe.
Although immigrants have never been required to apply for citizenship, any foreign-born resident may apply for U.S. citizenship privileges and responsibilities. The process for U.S. citizenship often took many years and the application to become "naturalized" was an early step in the process.
Naturalization papers are important resources that provide lots of information about an immigrant.
This category contains passenger lists, naturalization records, and lists of immigrants from Russia, Italy, Ireland and Germany.
Passenger lists are an invaluable source for those with migratory ancestors.
Our Transatlantic Migration Index contains the names of over 40,000 individuals who travelled from North America to Great Britain and Ireland between 1858 and 1870. Ports in Great Britain and Ireland were required to record these details due to concerns over American support for an uprising by the Fenians in Ireland.
Irish emigrants continued to pass through Irish and British ports well into the late 19th and 20th centuries. The Passenger Lists 1890 – 1960 cover departures from many British and Irish ports to destinations worldwide. Included in these records are the passenger lists for the HMS Titanic and the thousands of immigrants who disembarked at Ellis Island after 1892.
From 1606 people emigrated from England to countries such as the United States, India, Canada, Australia, South Africa, and New Zealand. Emigration increased after 1815 when it became a means of poor relief. Emigration also increased during gold rushes in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and the United States. Emigration from England peaked in the 1880s. Records were not required for free emigrants to the United States until 1776; Canada before 1865; or Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa until the 20th century.
About 1855, passports were a standard document issued only to British nationals. They were in the form of a single-sheet paper document. The Aliens Act 1905 marked the beginnings of immigration control in Britain. It was aimed at preventing paupers and criminals from entering the country, and it introduced immigration controls and registration.
Following the British Nationality and Status Aliens Act 1914, passports came to include a photograph and physical description of the holder. Our Passenger Lists, available in partnership with The National Archives, hold the details of over 24 million passengers leaving the UK on long-haul voyages between 1890 and 1960. Use our Passenger Lists in combination with the Register of Passport Applications, and our other migration records, to learn more about the movements of your 19th and 20th century ancestors.
Permanent European settlement in Australia started in 1788 with the establishment of the British Crown colony of New South Wales. From around 1815, the colony began to expand rapidly as free settlers arrived from Britain and Ireland. Transportation of convicts was stopped in 1840, although it continued to Van Diemen’s Land and Moreton Bay (which later became Queensland) for some years longer. Perth in Western Australia didn’t prosper and requested convicts, but South Australia and Victoria were settled only by free settlers.
With over 310,000 records covering 1788 to the late 1800s across Australia and New Zealand, our travel and migration records are a great genealogy tool for learning more about your ancestry.
The Convict Arrivals in New South Wales is built from government indent records and holds the details of 97,797 convicts who arrived in New South Wales between 1788 and 1842. The records include Mary Bryant, a Cornish convict sent to Australia, who became one of the first successful escapees from the Australian penal colony, with James Boswell helping her case in England. Thomas Muir, the Scottish Political Reformist, was transported to Australia for 14 years for attempting to change the political system in Britain, and was involved in political reform in the US, France and Ireland.
The Queensland Early Pioneers Index 1824-1859 is an invaluable resource for family genealogists researching the pre-separation period. The index contains 156,760 references to approximately 50,000 names, taken from 75 sources located in Brisbane. It has been compiled from primary sources and contains references to those who were living in what is now Queensland prior to separation from New South Wales at the end of 1859. Wide ranging sources, including convict, administration, immigration, law, land, newspaper, hospital and personal records.