©2016 by Donald R. Snow
This page was last updated 2016-05-09.  Return to the Utah Valley Technology and Genealogy Group Home Page or Don's Class Listings Page .
Abstract:  A major problem in ancestor research is finding where the immigrant ancestors came from in the "old country" and everyone in the United States has immigrant ancestors, unless they are entirely Native American.  Most immigrants to the U.S. after 1800 came through New York City, through Castle Garden and Ellis Island. Ellis Island was the main gateway for 50 years from 1892 to 1942 with 17 million immigrants and it is estimated that 40% of U.S. citizens today have at least one ancestor who came though there. For the LDS Church, with missionary work starting in the 1830's in England and the rest of Europe, many early converts came to the U.S. as "Zion". We will discuss these groups, their records, and stories. The notes with active URLs and additional information in Don's Freeware Corner articles are posted at . Abstract:


  1. Instructor is Donald R. Snow ( ) of Provo and St. George, Utah.
  2. These notes and other information from Don's Freeware Corner articles are posted on  with the links, so you don't have to type them in yourself.
  3. Tips:  (1)  To put an icon on your desktop for these notes, or any webpage, just drag the icon from in front of the address in your browser onto your desktop.  (2)  To open a link, but keep your place in these notes, hold down the Control key while clicking the link.
  4. The problem for today:  Finding and using United States and Latter-day Saint immigration records

  6. 5-minute video of "Isle of Hope" by The Irish Tenors about Ellis Island
  7. PowerPoint about immigration
  8. Instructions and helps about immigration research
    1. FamilySearch Wiki --  >  Emigration and Immigration;
    2. Tracing Immigrant Origins --  and
    3. Tracing LDS Ancestors -- >  Emigration and Immigration
    4. LDS Emigration and Immigration --
    5. U.S. Naturalization and Citizenship --
    6. Free courses on US immigration and citizenship --  > Get Help  >  Learning Center  >  Unites States  >  Migration and Citizenship -- several courses available 
    7. The Family History Guide -- -- helpful resources and information
    8. Scholarly articles online at BYU Library website --
  9. Definitions:  emigration = out; immigration = in; migration = both in, out, and travel within; but all are sometimes used interchangeably
  10. Reasons to do immigration research -- organize, verify, extend, and complete your home database and in FamilySearch; may show additional family members, friends, origins, destinations, and even returning LDS missionaries -- you may find ancestors in immigration databases even though they are not immigrants
  11. Most immigrant ancestors are people born outside the US, but died in the US -- can search your home database for these to get a list of most of your immigrant ancestors -- requires that your home database has birth and death place data, even if only assumptions
  12. US Censuses from 1900 through 1930 included year of immigration; 1940 Census only asked whether born in US

  14. Ellis Island, New York 1892-1924 --  and -- 90% of US immigrants before about 1950 came through Ellis Island and about 40% of US have at least one immigrant ancestor coming through Ellis Island -- records are free
  15. Castle Garden, New York 1820-1892 -- -- records are free
  16. Steve Morse's One-Step search engines for Ellis Island, Castle Garden, and many other US ports --
  17. Ancestry's Immigration Index and Collection --
    1. New York Passenger Lists 1820-1910
    2. Filby's Immigration Index 1500s-1900s -- references from published sources of immigrants
  18. Mormon Migration website (crossing the oceans) 1841-1900 --
    1. LDS companies of converts immigrating to America -- includes names, companies, ships, dates of immigration, plus quotes from documents and journals of fellow passengers
    2. Includes data from and supersedes the old Mormon Immigration Index CD from LDS Church Distribution Centers; ; constantly being updated
    3. Search brings back passenger name as well as quotations from documents and journals mentioning him
    4. BYU Immigrant Ancestors Project -- -- finding emigrants leaving Europe by using European exit records, not US entry records; usually gives more data
  19. Mormon Pioneer Overland Travels (Crossing the Plains) 1847-1868 --
    1. Information at  and   
    2. LDS companies crossing the plains -- includes names, companies, ships, dates of immigration, plus quotes from documents and journals of fellow passengers; constantly being updated -- Parentheses after names in search results are ages at the time
    3. Some journals now available on the Church History Library website -- released on DVD's in Selected Collections several years ago, but now posted online -- Example:  Erastus Snow's account of entering the Salt Lake Valley with Orson Pratt on 21 Jul 1847 ahead of Brigham Young's Company -- go to the Church History Website and search for Erastus Snow's journals > View Register > 1847 Apr-Dec > 21 Jul > Image 92
    4. Melvin L. Bashore of Church Historian's Office is also compiling "Crossing the Plains Index Database" -- info at
    5. Journal History of the Church -- Church History Library > Research Center > Digital and Web Resources > Journal History of the Church 
  20. Passport Applications 1795-1925 -- collection on FamilySearch; many immigrants and others went back to visit relatives
  21. Early LDS database 1830-1900 -- -- Don and Diane Snow's assignment in Nauvoo Mission -- many LDS immigration examples

  23. Books online -- Latter-day Saint Church Emigration  and  Church Chronology  by Andrew Jenson, Church Historian
  24. Nauvoo Databank -- available in a few FHC's -- lots of information and stories about LDS
  25. Maps of the Mormon Trek Westward --
  26. Perpetual Emigrating Fund (sometimes incorrectly called Perpetual Emigration Fund) -- information from FamilySearch Wiki and from FSC Names of Persons and Sureties Indebted to the Perpetual Emigrating Fund Company from 1850 to 1877 Inclusive (FHL film #25686) -- pdf copy at > Publications > Mormon Historical Studies  and go to Vol. 1, No. 2, Fall, 2000, pages 141-242 --  
  27. Mormon immigration info, passenger lists, ships, etc. --  and
  28. Tracing Mormon Pioneers --
  29. Trails of Hope: Overland Diaries and Letters, 1846-1869 -- journals and letters in BYU Library --
  30. See additional immigration links in other of Don's notes on 


  31. Lots of good data and stories in these websites for family nights, talks, family reunions, and research clues
  32. Save the URL's, screenshots, and images and include them in your home database and FamilySearch Family Tree.

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