Thursday, May 26, 2016

Immigrant Ancestors Project

The Immigrant Ancestors Project is located at the Center for Family History and Genealogy at Brigham Young University in Salt Lake City, Utah. It is a project and database that is very useful for genealogists in that it provides the place of origin from countries such as Ireland for immigrants to the United States, Canada, and elsewhere. It sources from "emigration registers to locate information about the birthplaces of immigrants in their native countries, which is not found in the port registers and naturalization documents in the destination countries."[1]  It began in 2014 and is ongoing. Currently, it lists the National Library of Ireland, Public Records Office of Northern Ireland, The National Archives (UK), and the British Library as institutions it has worked with.


A search for those from Ireland who immigrated to the United States and Canada returns over 1,500 entries. Some of those records come from small, but interesting record sets and publications:
  • Castlecomer [Kilkenny] Poor Law Union Assisted Emigrants 1847-1853
  • Irish Emigrant Letters 1842-1910
  • Irish Emigrant Personal Accounts 1838-1901        

At the time of writing, information for more than 90% of Irish immigrants to North America in the database comes from one collection - WO23, Examination of Invalid Soldiers from The National Archives (UK). This is a collection which lists invalid soldiers who were given permission to stay in what was British Canada in the 19th century.

This clearly is a project with a lot of potential as there are many less well known record sets in Irish and British archives that contain Irish place of origin information for many who immigrated from Ireland to the United States or Canada. Dependant on funding, hopefully this is a database that will grow over the coming years.



[1] Center for Family History and Genealogy. Immigrant Ancestors Project. 2014. Available online at http://immigrants.byu.edu/about/iap: accessed 6 May 2016.

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