How about a WikiTree Migrations Project? [closed]

+23 votes

Because I like to stir the pot and skip the meal.

Because WikiTree keeps causing me to have such random ideas


We have the Puritan Great Migration Project.

We have the Huguenot Migration Project

My wife is Irish and I get into trouble with her family when I tell them that all four of their Irish grandparents did not migrate to America (1926 & 1928) during the Irish Potato Famine (1845 - 1852).  We could have the Great Famine Migration Project.

What other Great Human Migrations stand out?

I think it would be fascinating to see the variety of historical migrations world wide.  

How many could we document with our Ancestors?

Just a thought for another day.

closed with the note: Lots of ideas generated for potential future project. Thanks!
in The Tree House by Michael Stills G2G6 Pilot (476k points)
closed by Michael Stills

How about: (Wikipedia) The German minority in Russia, Ukraine, and the Soviet Union, self-termed as Russaki or Russlanddeutsche was created from several sources and in several waves.

". . . in the late 19th century and early 20th century, many Germans migrated from Russia to the Americas and elsewhere, collectively known as Germans from Russia."

("The 1914 census put the number of Germans living in The Russian Empire at 2,416,290.[5] In 1989, the German population of the Soviet Union was roughly 2 million.[6] In the 2002 Russian census, 597,212 Germans were enumerated, making Germans the fifth largest ethnic group in Russia. In 1999, there were 353,441 Germans in Kazakhstan and 21,472 in Kyrgyzstan.[7] According to the 2001 census, 33,300 Germans lived in Ukraine.[8]" )

Causes ascribed: "In the chaos of the Russian Revolution and the civil war that followed it, many ethnic Germans were displaced within Russia or emigrated from Russia altogether. The chaos surrounding the Russian Civil War was devastating to many German communities, particularly to religious dissenters like the Mennonites. Many Mennonites hold the forces of Nestor Makhno in Ukraine particularly responsible for large-scale violence against their community.

"This period was also one of regular food shortages, caused by famine and the lack of long distance transportation of food during the fighting. Coupled with the typhus epidemic and famine of the early 1920s,[11] . . . .)

Wikipedia also has a large article on the immigration of Germans to America, with quick notable statistics: in 2014, Total German-American population: 46,047,113[1], or 14.4% of the U.S. population (2014)."


My Grandfather's immediate family was part of the "Dust Bowl migration" to California, from Guyman, Oklahoma. With a stigma like "Oakies" I thought we where down on the luck Irish, "Potato Famine Migration", With the latest technology, I have discovered , we where not that, ironically we descend from "The Puritan Migration" people had large families,  historically, some of them just kept moving West as our Country expanded. My grandfather managed a Sonoco gas station and eventually became a Fireman, where he settled, in Downey, Ca. "The only thing that gave him discrecionary income, was selling wriggles gum"
I think a Dust Bowl Migration project would be very interesting.
My Grandmother SCHMIDT her grandfather immigrated from Ukraine, fortunately in the 1800s It is rumored that they followed "Catherine The Great"

15 Answers

+9 votes
Best answer

I think a Great Human Migrations wikitree project as Michael suggests is overdue. There are many good candidates for sub-projects already suggested in this thread, and they range from regional to global in scope. Kitty's suggestion of structuring it on the "Master Project" model of the Military and War Project, in order to accommodate any number of mass migration related sub-projects, seems perfect. So to put my actions where my words are, I'm in, and here are my initial thoughts:

I  suggest that the master project be titled "Great Migrations". Each "mass migration" sub-project should be given a specific title by its originator that not only clearly distinguishes the migration from others of its ilk, but also clearly identifies the group of people who were a part of it. I propose for this purpose that we broadly define "mass migration" to mean the movement of a readily identifiable group of people, who moved during a defined period in time, all compelled or motivated to do so for essentially the same reasons.

The sub-project titles should, by and large, be selected to designate and identify the subject migrant group from the point of view of that group's commonly accepted historical identity as "Emigrants" or as "Immigrants".

For example, sub-projects entitled: The Highland Clearances or The Potato Famine would facilitate identification of an individual candidate member of a specific group of Emigrants who departed from a common place for common reasons during a comparatively well defined time period in history.

Sub-projects entitled The Plantation of Ulster or The Pennsylvania Dutch would do the same for identification of a candidate member of an arriving Immigrant group.

Some people may legitimately be members of multiple migrant groups and simply included in two, or even more, sub-project title groups. For example The Moravians and The Palatines are both good stand-alone candidates for Great Migrations sub-project titles, but some members may also be categorized within the The Pennsylvania Dutch sub-project.

How do we start this up?

by RL McAdoo G2G6 Mach 2 (24.8k points)
selected by Living Berg
It helps when there is one or more solid references that can guide the project's work. PGM follows, for the most part, Anderson's Great Migration series.
+12 votes
I immediately think of Italy. Between 1880 -1920 4 million Italians came to the US.
by Jim Tareco G2G6 Mach 3 (31.2k points)
and to Australia.
Why did Italians go to Australia ? That would be interesting to know :)

Same reason as they went anywhere: persecution or poverty. The first arrived here just before Italy formed in 1860, and they came from what is now Italian speaking Switzerland/ Northern Italy. These areas were under Austrian rule and those who were against that rule, fled. The second wave came after WW2, as refugees, mostly from the impoverished South. Most countries had quotas. Many of those here had relatives who got into the US, but the quotas were full, so they went to Australia or South America.
+11 votes
I wonder if there was as many who migrated from Yorkshire to Lancashire as there were Lancashire to Yorkshire!!!!!

Perhaps that should be a question (sorry "tongue in check") ?
by Living Woodhouse G2G6 Pilot (260k points)
Cheeky, but I like it. LOL
No true Yorkshireman would migrate to Lancashire.  

+11 votes
Hi Michael,   We've also got the Grosse Île, Québec Project  Dedicated to the thousands of  Irish immigrants to Canada  many of whom lost their lives trying to find a better one.  1832 to 1937  Anyone interested in helping with this project - give me a shout.
by Maria Maxwell G2G6 Pilot (170k points)
+10 votes
Norwegians - between 1825 to 1925, more that 800,000 immigrated to America. The Homestead Act was the main motivation for this mass migration, as there had been crop failures contributing to the already challenged agriculture resources. Some of the earlier, smaller migrations from Norway, were religion motivated.
by Patricia Roche G2G6 Pilot (596k points)
Patricia I'd like to learn more about this, is there a source you'd recommend? Thx.
There are probably many, but this Wikipedia article  is where the above paragraph is from.  Very interesting article
+15 votes
The Scottish Highland and Lowland Clearances come to mind. Five million Scots live in Scotland, but there are many more people with Scots ancestry living abroad than the total population of Scotland.
by Bobbie Hall G2G6 Pilot (258k points)
+12 votes
The Scottish Migration after the Clearances (18th and 19th Cs). Millions went to Canada, the US, Australia and other parts of the English speaking world.
by Susan Scarcella G2G6 Mach 7 (73.3k points)
+11 votes
Scots into Northern Ireland could certainly be one.  And Scotch-Irish (Scots-Irish if you prefer) into the American colonies.

And Pennsylvania Germans & Sc-Irish into Virginia and the Carolinas another.

And NJ into northern Virginia.

And Virginians into the Monongahela.

It just goes on and on of course.

by Patricia Hickin G2G6 Mach 8 (88.5k points)
+10 votes

We've already got the LDS Pioneers, for those who crossed the Plains to Utah by wagon or on foot before the transcontinental railroad was finished in 1869. There's also a subcategory related to the LDS project for the Mexican Colonias, settled by Mormons who headed for Mexico when the US started jailing polygamists in the 1880s. I've spent a few months working on the Mormons, and have ended up wondering what motivated them to leave Europe (Scandinavia & England especially) in a fair-sized stream. And Scandinavian immigrants generally - nowadays there's a Scandinavian-themed gathering in Minot, ND that draws 60,000 people annually, mostly from the northern plains. (Their nametag motto is "Hi, and where are you from?" Yes, they have nametags.)

One of my long-standing interests is the patterns of migration & settlement in the US. There's the Dust Bowl refugees, although a lot of the Okies and Arkies were actually displaced tenant farmers who got tractored out. Some went west to California, which continued through the WWII years and beyond. Others headed north, black & white, and worked in steel and auto & so on mostly up the Mississippi to the Ohio River Valley & Great Lakes. They hopped freight trains as the railroad expanded.

I read an informative book awhile back "The Worst Hard Time" by Tim Egan about the people who did not leave the Dust Bowl area (W Kansas, OK & TX panhandles, NE New Mexico, Colorado plains.) He talked about the "Volga Germans" who came to Russia under Catherine the Great (also German) who gave them special incentives and exemption from various obligations. After she died, those privileges had no one to defend them, and there ended up being a migration to the US high plains, much of what became the Dust Bowl as it happens. (They brought winter red wheat to the US, and also tumbleweeds aka Russian thistle amongst their seed wheat.)

We've had some "forced"migrations in and to the US, too. One would probably have better luck tracing Cherokees and the rest of the Five Civilized tribes through the Trail of Tears than with the trans-Atlantic slave trade of Africans to the Americas.

The prisoners sent to Australia from Britain are a big population transfer, though not technically a "migration." More recently, the Nazis engendered a variety of refugees in abundant numbers, mostly Jews and Eastern Europeans of various nationalities. There's a steady stream of refugees from the Middle East in recent decades, most recently from Syria. "Shanghai" became a verb in addition to the name of a Chinese city, describing how people got pressed into service to build the US trans-continental railroad. It would be interesting to look into how Japanese-American lives were radically changed by US internment camps.

There's also English colonial-era migrations to the US in addition to PGM, as explored in depth by David Hackett Fischer in "Albion's Seed": Scots-Irish, royalists fleeing the Cromwell period, Quakers to PA/NJ. I have a line of ancestors who went to Canada after the American Revolution - and I've read that there was a migration of royalists at that time. The Acadians came from French Canada to Louisiana and became Cajuns. There's various Spanish/Mexican-related movements, too, going back before any of the English settlers. There's the Irish migration because of the potato famine.

IMO, most of the early settler migrations within the US have been motivated mostly by people wanting their own land. New England got full, and so they headed for the Great Lakes region, and then beyond. It's an aspiration which has largely faded from memory as so many people have now left the farm and headed for the cities.

Looking forward, there's predictions of 100s of millions of "climate refugees" over the next several decades. There's already some islands which have had to be abandoned, Alaskan villages have problems from a shortened ice season as well as rising sea levels. It is predicted that there's island nations which will simply cease to exist due to rising waters.

Not all of these are easy to document, and there's plenty more. No shortage of ideas!

by Living Winter G2G6 Mach 7 (72.1k points)
It surprises me how little people know about Australia's migration history. A link for more information is

I am concentrating on the Early Prussian migration to South Australia from 1838 to 1841 for religious reasons.  As I am 1/4 Irish and 3/4 Prussian descendant.  South Australia was form in 1834, just 4 years before the first German settlement. They were the first pioneers of  Adelaide Hills and the famous Barossa Valley.  The Barossa Valley is still rich in German history.  Just look at some on the winery names and their history.

TexMex music of various stripes (mariachi, conjunto &c) has drawn on German polka traditions, thanks to German migration to the San Antonio region in the 1800s. I had fun building some family around this profile, including reading up on that regional/cultural intersection:

Leonardo "Flaco" Jimenez

"I've spent a few months working on the Mormons, and have ended up wondering what motivated them to leave Europe (Scandinavia & England especially) in a fair-sized stream."

A shoe maker ancestor had a  daughter who left the rest of her family to join this exodus. She was young and unmarried, when she got there she married another Mormon (born in America) and crossed the plains to Utah in a wagon train. I struggle to understand, did she really know the privations ahead? Why did she go?.  She, or rather her family did do well with her son becoming an architect with several interesting buildings and the plinth of the Brigham Young memorial in his portfolio. By contrast several of the direct descendants of her father ended up in the workhouse. Perhaps she was just astute!
+8 votes
Also waves of Irish poverty migration to Australia and dispossessed Scottish Highlanders
by Elsie Gorman G2G6 Mach 1 (12.0k points)
The Potato Famine in Ireland sent thousands at a minimum to the US and elsewhere.
At one time thier was a poll tax on peasants, it was cheaper for a Landlord too ship them off too America
What's your source on that, Rodney Rarick? I'm curious!! I'm trying to find out things about the Scots who immigrated too. The lowlands/highlands items here are a lead to them, but if anyone knows an important (accurate) source or two, I want to see them!
+9 votes

I immediately thought of the migration of Jews to the new state of Israel after WW II. It might be mentioned in the Holocaust Project, but it's really outside their timeline (I think).

The result of all this discussion sounds like we need a project that would include all of these other suggestions... Like the Military and War Project includes subprojects for each of the major conflicts. Is that what you were getting at, Michael?

by Kitty Linch G2G6 Mach 4 (40.9k points)
+9 votes
The Brain Drain (scientists recruited from Western Europe to the USA and Canada in the 1950s, in response to the Russian astronautical succcess).
by Janet Gunn G2G6 Pilot (124k points)
+7 votes
Is there a category for British Home Children?  Some went to Canada, some to Australia, New Zealand, South Africa (I think) and probably other places.
by Ros Haywood G2G Astronaut (1.5m points)
+4 votes
Family Search has the Italians to America Index 1855-1900.

Wikipedia defines the "Italian Diaspora" as between 1860 and WWI.

The 3rd wave of immigration was between 1890 and the 1920's when congress passed stricter immigration policies by Emergency Quota Act of 1921 and the Immigration Act of 1924.

Another source measures Italian immigration between the unification of Italy in 1861 and the rise of Italian Fascism in the 1920's.

Italian immigration can be further broken down to the Northern Italians who were artisans and shopkeepers, while the later Southern Italians were mostly farm laborers and laborers who intended to return to Italy and Sicily once they made enough money to buy land.


I also don't think the entire project should be called anything like "Great Migrations" because that is so similar to Anderson's Great Migration and almost infers that that particular migration is more significant that others.  Maybe more like "World Migration Project."
by Lucy Selvaggio-Diaz G2G6 Pilot (668k points)
How do you find the Italians to America Index?  I went to search for it briefly but I could not find it.  I have family that came from Genoa, Italy between 1870 and 1880 and settled in St. Louis, Missouri.

I just searched for "Italians to America"

+1 vote
How about a project for all the Italian migrant workers that immigrated from Sicily to Louisiana to harvest sugar cane after the US Civil War? The slaves left, and the plantation owners recruited Italians. 11 thousand Italians came, some more than once, before settling in America!

Sharon Troy Centanne
by Living Troy G2G6 Pilot (157k points)

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