As with any research project, the first place to start is with home sources. Ask family members if they have naturalization records, correspondence, passports, photos and other papers that might hold clues for where the ancestor lived and when they came to America. From there, start with researching the immigrant's life in the United States and then jump back to the mother country. Before you spend too much time trying to find records in a different county, make sure that you read how-to books to learn more about that country and the records that are available.
The following list is some places that can assist you as you start tracing your immigrant ancestor's life. Websites that are subscription sites are followed with a ($).
- Immigration and Travel Category on Ancestry.com ($)
- Immigration and Travel Collection on WorldVitalRecords.com ($)
- Immigration on Archives.com ($)
- Passport Applications, 1795-1905 on fold3 ($)
- Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild
- United States Immigration Information on Access Genealogy
- Immigration and Naturalization on Cydni's List.
- Colletta, John P. "They Came in Ships: A Guide to Finding Your Immigrant Ancestor's Arrival Record." Orem, Utah: Ancestry, 2002.
- Eakle, Arlene H, and Linda E. Brinkerhoff. "Tracing Immigrant Ancestors." Tremonton, UT: Genealogical Institute, 2002.
- Filby, P W, and Mary K. Meyer. "Passenger and Immigration Lists Index: A Guide to Published Arrival Records of About 500,000 Passengers Who Came to the United States and Canada in the Seventeenth, Eighteenth, and Nineteenth Centuries." Detroit, Mich: Gale Research Co, 1981.
Huber, Leslie A. "The Journey Takers." United States: Foundation Books, 2010.
- Minert, Roger P, Kathryn Boeckel, and Caren Winters. "Germans to America and the Hamburg Passenger Lists: Coordinated Schedules." Westminster, Md: Willow Bend Books, 2005.
- Pfeiffer, Laura S. "Hidden Sources: Family History in Unlikely Places." Orem, Utah: Ancestry, 2000.
Prewitt, Christa. "German Immigrant Ancestors." Austin, Tex: German-Texan Heritage Society, 1997.
- Reamy, Martha, and Bill Reamy. "Immigrant Ancestors of Marylanders: As Found in Local Histories." Westminster, Md: Willow Bend Books, 2000.
- Smolenyak, Megan. "They Came to America: Finding Your Immigrant Ancestors." San Francisco, CA: Santa Fe Ventures, 2000.
- Szucs, Loretto D, and Sandra H. Luebking. "The Source: A Guidebook to American Genealogy." Provo, UT: Ancestry, 2006.
- Szucs, Loretto D. "They Became Americans: Finding Naturalization Records and Ethnic Origins." Salt Lake City, Utah: Ancestry, 1998.
- Tepper, Michael. "American Passenger Arrival Records: A Guide to the Records of Immigrants Arriving at American Ports by Sail and Steam." Baltimore: Genealogical Pub. Co, 1993.