Key resources for tracing your emigrant ancestors after arrival in their new country


12 July 2023
Immigrants from Malta arrive in Sydney having disembarked from the S.S. Partizanka, 1948 © State Library Victoria
Chris Paton shares key resources for finding out what happened to your emigrant ancestors once they arrived in their new country.

If you’ve managed to discover an emigrant ancestor and know their destination country and a rough date of arrival, it’s then a case of tuning into the local resources to continue researching their stories. (For more on tracing the actual voyage of emigrant ancestors see here).

Online records

Resources such as censuses, directories, vital records, wills, newspapers, and more, many of which can be found on Ancestry, Findmypast, MyHeritage, and on FamilySearch can all be used.

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National Archives guide

Whilst the National Archives at Kew does not hold records of emigrants beyond passenger lists, it does hold a variety of papers sent to it for preservation by former colonial administrations which can often name emigrants, as well as copies of company records which may exist, for example, the papers of the Hudson's Bay Company which traded in Canada. Its detailed guide on emigration can be found here.

Tracing in the destination countries

Relevant overseas national archive platforms can also provide useful guides on how to pursue family history research in the destination countries of British and Irish emigrants, including those of:

Beyond these many areas you may also find specific regional projects that can assist with other territories in the world, for example, the China Families project hosts a range of family history resources, including trade directories from China and Hong Kong published between 1842-1947.

Read Chris Paton’s in-depth guide to ancestors departing Britain in the August 2023 issue of Family Tree magazine, available here.

About the author

Chris Paton runs the Scotland’s Greatest Story research service and teaches online courses through Pharos Tutors.

Tracing Your Scottish Ancestry Through Church and State Records is available from Pen & Sword.

Read Chris’s Scottish GENES blog.