Ancestry: Genealogy: Guide: Tracing Emigrants:


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The task of tracing emigrants

In the pursuit of your genealogical research, chances are you will encounter situations wherein you will need to trace the ancestry, lineage or current whereabouts of people who have migrated to another location than their place of origin, be it another town, province or country.

This factor will obviously pose a considerable challenge to the already formidable task of tracing documents that establish bloodlines and family histories. Many less persistent genealogical researchers have given up on the search when the trail leads to distant locations. This is unfortunate as there are a potentially large number of clues to be gathered from civil registries and other official recorded documents in your subject's subsequent place of residence.

One of the most important traits to develop as a genealogical researcher is to be extremely meticulous and thorough; to be successful in this endeavor you must explore every possible avenue of information and not leave any stone left unturned, so to speak, in your search for the next clue. As such, you will have to consider the value of tracing emigrant records in your research.

As is the case with research subjects who reside in your own particular location, the most valuable sources of information are the local civil registers, church records, libraries, historical societies and archives. The only difference, of course, being now you will have to be able to have access to these documents in your research subject's new location.

Depending on the country in question, there is a chance that you may encounter language difficulties. Otherwise though, the process is pretty much the same in different countries and if you have reasonable experience in gathering data from these various sources in your own locale, you should encounter no significant difficulty.

Another factor, which you should be ready to deal with, is the possibility that these other countries may have social, political and religious conventions that may differ radically from those that you are accustomed to. Local customs for naming children for example, commonly varies from country to country and sometimes even between different geographical divisions within the same country. Civil registry records may focus heavily on male members of the community with only a passing mention of female members. A good way to work your way around this obstacle is to familiarise yourself as much as you can with local customs and practice. Consult several different materials - both printed and online in various websites - that focus on the geographical area of your research. Do not forgot to gather information from actual residents of the area in question themselves; they can often provide insight into little-known facets of their culture and society that you will not be able to find in any published source.

Finally, keep in mind that departure records from your subject's point of origin tend to be sketchy at best and while you should not discount this source of information outright, you will most likely have more luck perusing documents on the other end of his journey, the country of subsequent residence.

Original Authors: Doods Pangburn
Edit Update Authors: Nicola Norfolk
Updated On: 06/02/2007

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