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Genealogy HowTo
Issue: Aug 12, 2007

Migration Studies Help Extend Family Lines
By Karen Clifford, AG, FUGA

A closer look at your ancestor's movement patterns, as evidenced in some of the same records used to link those families together, is one way to extend the family even further back in time. Plotting of these movements is called a "migration study" by family historians.

Consider this example. Using the federal census records alone between 1850 and 1930, the birth states and countries are given for the individuals listed. If John and Mary had six children living at home in 1910, and the youngest was listed in the state-wide birth index as born in 1908 in the state of California, what state's census would you search first?

Father's Birth Mother's Birth Occupation
John 35 Michigan Pennsylvania Virginia Farmer
Mary 27 Michigan Ireland Ireland
Susan 12 Oklahoma Michigan Canada
Jack 10 Texas Michigan Canada
Eleanor 8 Colorado Michigan Michigan
Frances 6 Nevada Michigan Michigan
William 4 Colorado Michigan Michigan
Benjamin 2 California Michigan Michigan

If you said the 1910 California census you are absolutely correct. And after you looked at that census, you could plot out a chart similar to the sample above. What state would you search in 1900? If you said Texas, you just used migration studies to guide you to another record group. You discovered that ten years previous to 1910, Jack was born in Texas. That is why you elected to look in Texas in 1900. However, when you looked at the 1900 census, the family was listed as follows:

Father's Birth Mother's Birth Occupation
M. J. 26 Michigan Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Laborer
S. M. 25 Lower Canada Wales Wales
Susie 2 Oklahoma Michigan Lower Canada
John 3/12 Texas Michigan Lower Canada

It is not uncommon for individuals to reverse their initials or use a nickname on different census enumerations. Maybe the father of the head of the household lived in the same county that year, and they decided to go by different names in that area. Now we could discuss why the mother had only aged two years between 1900 and 1910. Most likely this is a second marriage for the husband, because in the first census shown, the mother's birth place is Canada, while by the time he moved to Colorado where Eleanor was born, his new wife was younger and was born in Michigan.

You should ask yourself questions along the way. What are the odds of a man marrying a woman from Michigan when they were living in the state of Texas two years before the birth of their daughter, Eleanor, in Colorado? Such questions will guide you to new records. For example, what year was John, the father, born? Did you say about 1874/1875? Good. In the 1900 census, John's occupation was a laborer. Did you look at the other column on the census? What kind of laborer was he? Looking closer it said Coal Mine. Is there something in common between the states where the children were born? If you said all these states had active mines in these years you would now be involved with occupational migrations! Migrants were chiefly from the lower middle class unless being forced to leave for one reason or another.

Look more closely at the birth places of the parents for the husband and wife. They too were born in states and countries where mining was an occupation. This can lead to occupational records but only if you know a more exact location than a state. You find those more exact locations by following the children forward in time on the 1920 and 1930 census records to see if any of them died in a particular area of the state. Now you can search county-wide records because the census led you to a place in which the children had moved, married, or attended school. Marriage, death, and alumni records may contain more specific information on a person's birthplace and parentage.

So you can see, plotting a migration has the potential to lead a researcher to extend family lines by following the common migration movements of other groups who settled in the area of interest. The simple fact that people very seldom traveled alone, would provide links by association to your ancestors; and the fact that they usually followed fixed routes set by others makes migration studies helpful. There are hundreds of publications in both the traditionally printed form and on the Internet that cover the ethnic and occupational movements of people. Even if your ancestors did not settle in the same locality as other members of the family or with former neighbors, they probably traveled with them along similar paths which could lead you to another area of research.

Many migration presentations cover existing documented and named migration trails and how to find clues from them. Information on these documented migration trails that have been gathered by historians and statisticians can accelerate the learning process for you. This can save you valuable time when you are searching for that elusive ancestor that seems to have disappeared but may just be working in another state

So far we have considered how a study of a family's migration might lead us to that family's ethnicity, birth place, and knowledge of their occupation. In addition, you might find the reasons for which the family moved by reading in local newspapers of the time period. By looking at the help wanted columns in the area where the children were born, you also might discover the causes for migration. Later, your hypothesis about why they moved might be verified when you read what a child in this family has written in his own life story or a school record, or perhaps as part of an anniversary write-up, or any number of other personal writing.

Let's study these records further. John lived during the time of military registration. This is another record that asks for a birth place. He did register and gave his birth county in Ishpeming, Michigan. Studying the records of Ishpeming on the 1880 census, John was found with his father, who was listed as a farmer. Studying the county history, we learned that men worked in the mines to obtain cash to pay the taxes on the farm. While mining brought in needed funds, land ownership was the ambition of this family. John's father was born in Pennsylvania but the 1880 census indicated his parents were from Ireland. Land ownership is a yearning dream for an immigrant. What other federal records could give a clue to the John's grandparents? Did you say land records? Yes, absolutely! They might have applied for a homestead. And in the homestead application they would have been asked to supply their naturalization papers. There would have been depositions given. Each paper could contain another place where this family lived.

John's father might have served in the military in order to expedite his citizenship. Military records contain wonderful migration clues. By plotting the family movements in chronological order with the location listed by each date, you will be lead to more ideas, and more records including:

  • Methods of travel during various times in different localities. The earliest form of migration was by water. There were barriers caused by enemies, land masses, weather, etc., that caused detours.
  • Terms for migration tendencies and how they link to genealogy methodologies. For example was there an economic cause for a migration, or a social cause. When migrants from one area stream into the same areas in the new locality, it can be called "clustering." Did John's second wife travel from Michigan when she heard about the death of his first wife? Could these ladies have been sisters, with one born after coming to the U.S.A. from Canada? Could their families have had similar occupations, or been of the same religion? Finding the marriage records for both might answer these questions. When families, relatives, friends, and neighbors followed each other it is called a chain migration.
Application of migration principles used along with research analysis will help solve personal family history problems. One migration principle in the United States is that most people moved from the east to the west. When you find someone moving from the west to the east during certain time periods it causes you to wonder why. Was there a personal reason for returning? Did the father die, so the son and his family returned to help the mother? How can you know? You check the probate records of the state and county where the family returned. You learn more about the siblings. Perhaps the family was escaping to a better place.

All migration studies involve knowledge of these essential topics which are repeatedly researched throughout your pathway back in time:

  • History
  • Topography
  • Jurisdiction of records
  • Movement methodologies (canals, ships, horses, Conestoga wagons, Air Stream trailers, SUVs, etc.)
  • Available records in any particular geographic area

In the next newsletter we will look at the ways in which one can learn about, record, and capitalize on migration patterns.

Article written by Karen Clifford from Genealogy Research Associates. Sponsored by MyTrees.com.

Copyright ©: 2011 Karen Clifford. All rights reserved.

No reproduction of this article may be used without the express written permission of the author.

Newsletters

Select Newsletter by Issue or Topic:

Genealogy HowTo
Issue: Aug 12, 2007

Migration Studies Help Extend Family Lines
By Karen Clifford, AG, FUGA

A closer look at your ancestor's movement patterns, as evidenced in some of the same records used to link those families together, is one way to extend the family even further back in time. Plotting of these movements is called a "migration study" by family historians.

Consider this example. Using the federal census records alone between 1850 and 1930, the birth states and countries are given for the individuals listed. If John and Mary had six children living at home in 1910, and the youngest was listed in the state-wide birth index as born in 1908 in the state of California, what state's census would you search first?

Father's Birth Mother's Birth Occupation
John 35 Michigan Pennsylvania Virginia Farmer
Mary 27 Michigan Ireland Ireland
Susan 12 Oklahoma Michigan Canada
Jack 10 Texas Michigan Canada
Eleanor 8 Colorado Michigan Michigan
Frances 6 Nevada Michigan Michigan
William 4 Colorado Michigan Michigan
Benjamin 2 California Michigan Michigan

If you said the 1910 California census you are absolutely correct. And after you looked at that census, you could plot out a chart similar to the sample above. What state would you search in 1900? If you said Texas, you just used migration studies to guide you to another record group. You discovered that ten years previous to 1910, Jack was born in Texas. That is why you elected to look in Texas in 1900. However, when you looked at the 1900 census, the family was listed as follows:

Father's Birth Mother's Birth Occupation
M. J. 26 Michigan Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Laborer
S. M. 25 Lower Canada Wales Wales
Susie 2 Oklahoma Michigan Lower Canada
John 3/12 Texas Michigan Lower Canada

It is not uncommon for individuals to reverse their initials or use a nickname on different census enumerations. Maybe the father of the head of the household lived in the same county that year, and they decided to go by different names in that area. Now we could discuss why the mother had only aged two years between 1900 and 1910. Most likely this is a second marriage for the husband, because in the first census shown, the mother's birth place is Canada, while by the time he moved to Colorado where Eleanor was born, his new wife was younger and was born in Michigan.

You should ask yourself questions along the way. What are the odds of a man marrying a woman from Michigan when they were living in the state of Texas two years before the birth of their daughter, Eleanor, in Colorado? Such questions will guide you to new records. For example, what year was John, the father, born? Did you say about 1874/1875? Good. In the 1900 census, John's occupation was a laborer. Did you look at the other column on the census? What kind of laborer was he? Looking closer it said Coal Mine. Is there something in common between the states where the children were born? If you said all these states had active mines in these years you would now be involved with occupational migrations! Migrants were chiefly from the lower middle class unless being forced to leave for one reason or another.

Look more closely at the birth places of the parents for the husband and wife. They too were born in states and countries where mining was an occupation. This can lead to occupational records but only if you know a more exact location than a state. You find those more exact locations by following the children forward in time on the 1920 and 1930 census records to see if any of them died in a particular area of the state. Now you can search county-wide records because the census led you to a place in which the children had moved, married, or attended school. Marriage, death, and alumni records may contain more specific information on a person's birthplace and parentage.

So you can see, plotting a migration has the potential to lead a researcher to extend family lines by following the common migration movements of other groups who settled in the area of interest. The simple fact that people very seldom traveled alone, would provide links by association to your ancestors; and the fact that they usually followed fixed routes set by others makes migration studies helpful. There are hundreds of publications in both the traditionally printed form and on the Internet that cover the ethnic and occupational movements of people. Even if your ancestors did not settle in the same locality as other members of the family or with former neighbors, they probably traveled with them along similar paths which could lead you to another area of research.

Many migration presentations cover existing documented and named migration trails and how to find clues from them. Information on these documented migration trails that have been gathered by historians and statisticians can accelerate the learning process for you. This can save you valuable time when you are searching for that elusive ancestor that seems to have disappeared but may just be working in another state

So far we have considered how a study of a family's migration might lead us to that family's ethnicity, birth place, and knowledge of their occupation. In addition, you might find the reasons for which the family moved by reading in local newspapers of the time period. By looking at the help wanted columns in the area where the children were born, you also might discover the causes for migration. Later, your hypothesis about why they moved might be verified when you read what a child in this family has written in his own life story or a school record, or perhaps as part of an anniversary write-up, or any number of other personal writing.

Let's study these records further. John lived during the time of military registration. This is another record that asks for a birth place. He did register and gave his birth county in Ishpeming, Michigan. Studying the records of Ishpeming on the 1880 census, John was found with his father, who was listed as a farmer. Studying the county history, we learned that men worked in the mines to obtain cash to pay the taxes on the farm. While mining brought in needed funds, land ownership was the ambition of this family. John's father was born in Pennsylvania but the 1880 census indicated his parents were from Ireland. Land ownership is a yearning dream for an immigrant. What other federal records could give a clue to the John's grandparents? Did you say land records? Yes, absolutely! They might have applied for a homestead. And in the homestead application they would have been asked to supply their naturalization papers. There would have been depositions given. Each paper could contain another place where this family lived.

John's father might have served in the military in order to expedite his citizenship. Military records contain wonderful migration clues. By plotting the family movements in chronological order with the location listed by each date, you will be lead to more ideas, and more records including:

  • Methods of travel during various times in different localities. The earliest form of migration was by water. There were barriers caused by enemies, land masses, weather, etc., that caused detours.
  • Terms for migration tendencies and how they link to genealogy methodologies. For example was there an economic cause for a migration, or a social cause. When migrants from one area stream into the same areas in the new locality, it can be called "clustering." Did John's second wife travel from Michigan when she heard about the death of his first wife? Could these ladies have been sisters, with one born after coming to the U.S.A. from Canada? Could their families have had similar occupations, or been of the same religion? Finding the marriage records for both might answer these questions. When families, relatives, friends, and neighbors followed each other it is called a chain migration.
Application of migration principles used along with research analysis will help solve personal family history problems. One migration principle in the United States is that most people moved from the east to the west. When you find someone moving from the west to the east during certain time periods it causes you to wonder why. Was there a personal reason for returning? Did the father die, so the son and his family returned to help the mother? How can you know? You check the probate records of the state and county where the family returned. You learn more about the siblings. Perhaps the family was escaping to a better place.

All migration studies involve knowledge of these essential topics which are repeatedly researched throughout your pathway back in time:

  • History
  • Topography
  • Jurisdiction of records
  • Movement methodologies (canals, ships, horses, Conestoga wagons, Air Stream trailers, SUVs, etc.)
  • Available records in any particular geographic area

In the next newsletter we will look at the ways in which one can learn about, record, and capitalize on migration patterns.

Article written by Karen Clifford from Genealogy Research Associates. Sponsored by MyTrees.com.

Copyright ©: 2011 Karen Clifford. All rights reserved.

No reproduction of this article may be used without the express written permission of the author.

Newsletters

Select Newsletter by Issue or Topic:

Genealogy HowTo
Issue: Aug 12, 2007

Migration Studies Help Extend Family Lines
By Karen Clifford, AG, FUGA

A closer look at your ancestor's movement patterns, as evidenced in some of the same records used to link those families together, is one way to extend the family even further back in time. Plotting of these movements is called a "migration study" by family historians.

Consider this example. Using the federal census records alone between 1850 and 1930, the birth states and countries are given for the individuals listed. If John and Mary had six children living at home in 1910, and the youngest was listed in the state-wide birth index as born in 1908 in the state of California, what state's census would you search first?

Father's Birth Mother's Birth Occupation
John 35 Michigan Pennsylvania Virginia Farmer
Mary 27 Michigan Ireland Ireland
Susan 12 Oklahoma Michigan Canada
Jack 10 Texas Michigan Canada
Eleanor 8 Colorado Michigan Michigan
Frances 6 Nevada Michigan Michigan
William 4 Colorado Michigan Michigan
Benjamin 2 California Michigan Michigan

If you said the 1910 California census you are absolutely correct. And after you looked at that census, you could plot out a chart similar to the sample above. What state would you search in 1900? If you said Texas, you just used migration studies to guide you to another record group. You discovered that ten years previous to 1910, Jack was born in Texas. That is why you elected to look in Texas in 1900. However, when you looked at the 1900 census, the family was listed as follows:

Father's Birth Mother's Birth Occupation
M. J. 26 Michigan Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Laborer
S. M. 25 Lower Canada Wales Wales
Susie 2 Oklahoma Michigan Lower Canada
John 3/12 Texas Michigan Lower Canada

It is not uncommon for individuals to reverse their initials or use a nickname on different census enumerations. Maybe the father of the head of the household lived in the same county that year, and they decided to go by different names in that area. Now we could discuss why the mother had only aged two years between 1900 and 1910. Most likely this is a second marriage for the husband, because in the first census shown, the mother's birth place is Canada, while by the time he moved to Colorado where Eleanor was born, his new wife was younger and was born in Michigan.

You should ask yourself questions along the way. What are the odds of a man marrying a woman from Michigan when they were living in the state of Texas two years before the birth of their daughter, Eleanor, in Colorado? Such questions will guide you to new records. For example, what year was John, the father, born? Did you say about 1874/1875? Good. In the 1900 census, John's occupation was a laborer. Did you look at the other column on the census? What kind of laborer was he? Looking closer it said Coal Mine. Is there something in common between the states where the children were born? If you said all these states had active mines in these years you would now be involved with occupational migrations! Migrants were chiefly from the lower middle class unless being forced to leave for one reason or another.

Look more closely at the birth places of the parents for the husband and wife. They too were born in states and countries where mining was an occupation. This can lead to occupational records but only if you know a more exact location than a state. You find those more exact locations by following the children forward in time on the 1920 and 1930 census records to see if any of them died in a particular area of the state. Now you can search county-wide records because the census led you to a place in which the children had moved, married, or attended school. Marriage, death, and alumni records may contain more specific information on a person's birthplace and parentage.

So you can see, plotting a migration has the potential to lead a researcher to extend family lines by following the common migration movements of other groups who settled in the area of interest. The simple fact that people very seldom traveled alone, would provide links by association to your ancestors; and the fact that they usually followed fixed routes set by others makes migration studies helpful. There are hundreds of publications in both the traditionally printed form and on the Internet that cover the ethnic and occupational movements of people. Even if your ancestors did not settle in the same locality as other members of the family or with former neighbors, they probably traveled with them along similar paths which could lead you to another area of research.

Many migration presentations cover existing documented and named migration trails and how to find clues from them. Information on these documented migration trails that have been gathered by historians and statisticians can accelerate the learning process for you. This can save you valuable time when you are searching for that elusive ancestor that seems to have disappeared but may just be working in another state

So far we have considered how a study of a family's migration might lead us to that family's ethnicity, birth place, and knowledge of their occupation. In addition, you might find the reasons for which the family moved by reading in local newspapers of the time period. By looking at the help wanted columns in the area where the children were born, you also might discover the causes for migration. Later, your hypothesis about why they moved might be verified when you read what a child in this family has written in his own life story or a school record, or perhaps as part of an anniversary write-up, or any number of other personal writing.

Let's study these records further. John lived during the time of military registration. This is another record that asks for a birth place. He did register and gave his birth county in Ishpeming, Michigan. Studying the records of Ishpeming on the 1880 census, John was found with his father, who was listed as a farmer. Studying the county history, we learned that men worked in the mines to obtain cash to pay the taxes on the farm. While mining brought in needed funds, land ownership was the ambition of this family. John's father was born in Pennsylvania but the 1880 census indicated his parents were from Ireland. Land ownership is a yearning dream for an immigrant. What other federal records could give a clue to the John's grandparents? Did you say land records? Yes, absolutely! They might have applied for a homestead. And in the homestead application they would have been asked to supply their naturalization papers. There would have been depositions given. Each paper could contain another place where this family lived.

John's father might have served in the military in order to expedite his citizenship. Military records contain wonderful migration clues. By plotting the family movements in chronological order with the location listed by each date, you will be lead to more ideas, and more records including:

  • Methods of travel during various times in different localities. The earliest form of migration was by water. There were barriers caused by enemies, land masses, weather, etc., that caused detours.
  • Terms for migration tendencies and how they link to genealogy methodologies. For example was there an economic cause for a migration, or a social cause. When migrants from one area stream into the same areas in the new locality, it can be called "clustering." Did John's second wife travel from Michigan when she heard about the death of his first wife? Could these ladies have been sisters, with one born after coming to the U.S.A. from Canada? Could their families have had similar occupations, or been of the same religion? Finding the marriage records for both might answer these questions. When families, relatives, friends, and neighbors followed each other it is called a chain migration.
Application of migration principles used along with research analysis will help solve personal family history problems. One migration principle in the United States is that most people moved from the east to the west. When you find someone moving from the west to the east during certain time periods it causes you to wonder why. Was there a personal reason for returning? Did the father die, so the son and his family returned to help the mother? How can you know? You check the probate records of the state and county where the family returned. You learn more about the siblings. Perhaps the family was escaping to a better place.

All migration studies involve knowledge of these essential topics which are repeatedly researched throughout your pathway back in time:

  • History
  • Topography
  • Jurisdiction of records
  • Movement methodologies (canals, ships, horses, Conestoga wagons, Air Stream trailers, SUVs, etc.)
  • Available records in any particular geographic area

In the next newsletter we will look at the ways in which one can learn about, record, and capitalize on migration patterns.

Article written by Karen Clifford from Genealogy Research Associates. Sponsored by MyTrees.com.

Copyright ©: 2011 Karen Clifford. All rights reserved.

No reproduction of this article may be used without the express written permission of the author.

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