Sources of information

Today, almost 1.5 million of Canadians and 17 million of Americans claim to have Italians origins, either ancestors or as Italian citizen. They represent 5% of the North American population. For the past 150 years, it is estimated 6 million the number of Italians having crossed the Atlantic to reach the United States of America and 700 thousands for Canada. In order to help you in your research and find the tracks of your relatives having immigrated to North America, please find below a summary of useful information:

Immigration in New York

New York was the point of arrival for immigrants in the United States. Due to its attractive economy and its geographical position, most of the migrants passed through the city. Thus, two federal centers succeeded each other to welcome those migrants. It is now possible to access the online records in order to find information.

Castle Garden is a fort located on Manhattan's southern peak. Former military fort, currently national monument, it is mainly known for being the first immigration center of the United States of America, welcoming more than 8 million of migrants between 1855 and 1892.

Ellis Island is a small island within New York’s bay. It was the forced passing point for all migrants arriving in the United States between 1892 and 1954, date of closure. More than 12 million of people passed through this place for nearly 60 years. Today, Ellis Island has changed into an immigration museum. It is possible to visit the place, buildings, listen to immigrants' testimonies or access registers in order to find its ancestors.

Outside, next to the great hall, stands out the American Immigrant Wall of Honor. A wall inscribed with the name of more than 700 000 immigrants.

National Archives of United States of America

The National Archives and Records Administration is the American agency in charge of preserving and providing the public with all federal and historic documents. In the United States, censuses are performed every 10 years since 1790.

The American law does not allow the revelation of data dating less than 72 years old, so the last online available census is 1940. The portal of the American archives offers an access to the majority of the censuses and a big amount of historic documents such as a part of the military records, naturalization registers or even passenger lists having immigrated to the US:

The archives digitalized by the Mormons

The Mormons are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints whose headquarters are located in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Their religion, revealed at the beginning of the 19th century, was not known by their ancestors. Therefore the Mormons started early the task of tracking their dead relatives in order to baptize them and reinforce the family unit.

In 1894, the church founded the Genealogical Society of Utah. Since then, the Mormons signed agreements with many countries in order to microfilm and archive their registers. They also created the GEDCOM norm, used by genealogists across the world in order to share genealogical data. Today, the society became FamilySearch, the biggest genealogical organization in the world.

FamilySearch gives access to a huge number of genealogical sources through their website and family centers around the world where people can go and consult digitized registers:

The archives of the Canadian Government

Library and Archives Canada is the name of the Canadian government portal.

In Canada, censuses are performed every ten years since 1851. Older censuses do exist but are incomplete. The Canadian law does not allow the revelation of data dating less than 92 years old, so the last online available census is the one of 1921. Most of the censuses are available online through this portal.

Library and Archives Canada also gives access to a genealogical database named AVITUS and multiple sections dedicated to genealogical research, immigration (naturalization’s records, passenger lists, etc.) and military records:

Research Program in Historic Demography in Quebec

The University of Montreal has elaborated, starting from 1966, a project combining history, sciences and genealogy about the reconstitution of the population of Quebec, from the French colonization until the 17th century.

This program, based mainly on the analysis of parishes’ records, has enabled the creation of a database of more than 240 000 diverse files for the period 1621-1849. We can find baptism, marriage and death certificates, a dictionary of families and records related to immigration (naturalizations, passenger lists, etc.).

Their website allows two types of access to the online database. One is free and restricted to research in the index. The other one is not and allows a complete access to all the files:

 Various search engines on the web

Ancestor Hunt is a free American website of genealogical links. It references multiple websites that provides in depth research in the USA including population censuses, obituary notices, prison registers, etc.

Ancestry, like FamilySearch, is a genealogical research website offering millions of online registers. A big part of those registers requires paying a subscription but some of them are free. Even though most of the registers are related to the USA, they include various archives from Canada.

BMS2000 is a project that aims to share Quebec’s genealogical sources. The group offers through its website access to more than 12 million records (baptism, marriage and death certificates) from the French colonization until now. Accessing those records requires the purchase of consultation vouchers.

Cyndi's List is an American portal of genealogical sources. It is completely free and lists websites by category and by topic for USA and Canada.

USGenWeb is a project led by many American volunteers. It provides access to the work carried out by those volunteers (mainly censuses of various registers) but also links towards others free genealogic websites.

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