©2018 by Donald R. Snow
This page was last updated 2018-09-08.  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 the 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. These notes with active URLs and additional information in other notes and articles are posted at .


  1. Instructor is Donald R. Snow ( ) of Provo and St. George, Utah.
  2. The notes with active URLs and additional information in other notes and articles are posted at
  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. Video: "Isle of Hope" by The Irish Tenors about Ellis Island
  7. Definitions:  emigration = out; immigration = in; migration = both in, out, and travel within; but all are sometimes used interchangeably
  8. 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 fill in gaps and tell stories about your ancestors; returning LDS missionaries are often in immigration databases, even though they are not immigrants
  9. To get a list of most of your immigrant ancestors search your database for born outside the U.S., but died in the U.S.; requires your home database to have birth and death place data, even if only assumptions; this leaves out immigrants who died while outside the U.S., e.g. on trips back home 
  10. US Censuses from 1900 through 1930 included year of immigration; 1940 Census only asked whether born in US

  12. Article and links to New York immigration lists 1820-1957, online and free --  
    1. Castle Garden, New York 1820-1892 --  and and  (Castle Clinton)  
    2. Ellis Island, New York 1892-1924 --  and  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 there 
    3. New York Passenger and Crew Lists, 1909, and 1925-1957 -- 
  13. Steve Morse's One-Step search engines for Ellis Island, Castle Garden, and many other US ports --
  14. Ancestry's Immigration Index and Collection (ommercial website) --   
    1. New York Passenger Lists 1820-1910
    2. Filby's Immigration Index 1500s-1900s -- references from published sources of immigrants
  15. Mormon Migration website (crossing the oceans) 1841-1900 --
    1. LDS companies of converts immigratingto America -- includes names, companies, ships, dates of immigration, plus quotes from documents and journals of fellow passengers
    2. Extends the old Mormon Immigration Index CD from LDS Church Distribution Centers to about 1924; constantly being updated
    3. Search brings back passenger name as well as quotations from documents and journals mentioning him or her
    4. BYU Immigrant Ancestors Project -- -- BYU project to find emigrants by using European exit records, not US entry records; usually gives more data
    5. LDS immigrants from Germany and Switzerland listed in book - Entries of Genealogical Research Value Published In Der Stern 1869-1901 -- FamilySearch > Search > Books -- can download the searchable pdf
  16. 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 that 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 
  17. Trails of Hope: Overland Diaries and Letters, 1846-1869 -- journals and letters in BYU Library --
  18. Passport Applications 1795-1925 -- collection on FamilySearch; many immigrants and others went back to visit relatives; includes missionaries
  19. Early LDS database 1830-1900 -- -- Don and Diane Snow's assignment in Nauvoo Mission -- many LDS immigration examples

  21. 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 --
  22. Books online -- Latter-day Saint Church Emigration  and  Church Chronology  by Andrew Jenson, Church Historian
  23. Immigrant's name may be in original language -- see ForeignVersionsOfEnglishNames-USDeptOfJusticeImmigrationAndNauturalization-1973--IE4499792  on FamilySearch Books
  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. Article on finding US immigration records -- Allen County Public Library Genealogy Gems Newsletter , Feb 2018

  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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