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Collection Information

Emigration records relate to people leaving a country, whilst immigration records relate to people arriving in a country. For example, John Smith emigrated from the United Kingdom, he immigrated to Australia.

Well before records were available online, family historians have been working to preserve immigration records by publishing indexes, extracts, and transcriptions. Many of these publications have now been digitised and brought together on The original records in some of these books no longer exist, and in other cases they serve as alternative indexes to records found elsewhere, making this an important category.

These records also include registers and record books that weren’t created as immigration records, but that still include valuable immigration details. The records of the Emigrant Savings Bank and England & Wales Criminal Registers are good examples. The Emigrant Savings Bank in New York used immigration details along with other family information for identifying account holders. In the UK, criminal registers can contain details of convicts who were sentenced to transportation to penal colonies.

This collection includes published immigration and emigration records, as well as registers and other types of record books that, while not specifically created to record immigration, include immigration details.

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Search Tips

  • Some of the collections within this category are browsable in book form. This is helpful for locating ancestors who are not coming up through search due to name variants, but also useful in that you can browse the introductory materials which often contain historical details and important information as to the scope and coverage of the publication.
  • Check at the end of the book for an index. Browsing the index is a good way to get a feel for the contents of the book and you may find some things you didn’t think to search for.
  • Many of the books in this collection were converted to database form by Optical Character Recognition (OCR). In cases where the print is faded or hard to read, the computer can misinterpret the letters, so if you’re having trouble locating an ancestor in a particular collection, try replacing letters with others that look similar or that are similarly shaped.
  • Once you find a matching immigration record, save it to your family tree – that way you can provide evidence to back up the info in your family tree, easily share your discover with your family, and quickly find the historical record again later.