How can I find out where my family migrated from?

+4 votes
Because my family stayed in Georgia for so many years, I haven't been possible to figure out where they originated.
in Genealogy Help by Living Howell G2G Rookie (280 points)
retagged by Chris Whitten

8 Answers

+7 votes
Best answer
Hi Jerry,

Have you looked into a "one place study" for the place where your earliest known ancestor was born or lived? A genealogical society for that area may have conducted one, and would have information about the origins of the families in that area. Even if your family isn't included, looking at other research would give you a wealth of sources to investigate.

Another type of study you may find clues in is a one name study. Researchers try to trace the origin and spread of a surname. You may find that a bunch of folks with one last name went to Georgia from wherever all around the same time, which can help you narrow down a reasonable timeframe to investigate.

Are you familiar with researching land titles and probate? The county courthouse could have wills and land titles available dating back a few hundred years. Look to see if anyone with the same surname as the earliest known ancestor filed for land or left a will mentioning that ancestor.

If paper doesn't work out for you, you may want to consider DNA testing. Nearly all of the major DNA testing companies offer some sort of a heritage report. It is simple to trace your father's surname or your mother's matrilineal origins, but you'll need some obliging cousins for other lines. DNA testing is especially useful if you have early African-American heritage, because paperwork for former slaves is practically non-existent and what does exist rarely even hints at origin other than a general "Africa."

Good luck!
by Living B G2G4 (4.6k points)
selected by Suzanne Sheridan
+4 votes

Many, if not all death certificates indicate, among many other things, state (or nation) of birth.  If you can chase far enough back, this might help.

Also, FamilySearch, once you have mastered its needs, will often take you back to country of origin.

by Tom Bredehoft G2G6 Pilot (203k points)
+4 votes
Just to add to what Tom said; census records also show birthplace. has census records back to at least 1850.  Will that get you back far enough?  If not, post more about the people you're looking for.  Helpful Wikitreers will try to give you tips on where to go from there.
by Fred Remus G2G6 Mach 4 (41.9k points)
+4 votes

Can you guess which country they came from (eg England, Germany, Spain) and what century?

Many times the crossover was carefully planned and whole communities or even towns took a leap of faith. Because of this certain groups of people all landed in the same place and there are many records to be found of this happening.

Eg. the Dutch landed in the 19th century on Ellis Island, the records can be found here. holds over 12,000+ Passenger Manifests in 13 Volumes plus numerous other passengers listed in Special Projects.

by Martyn Grifhorst G2G6 Mach 2 (23.5k points)
+2 votes


hope these links help

after my testing I got a map of where the family line had been and moved to


by Kathy Alexander G2G Crew (640 points)
+1 vote
Have you tried asking older relatives? Our Lee group, Covington County, Alabama, started a "Greenberry Lee born 1799" group on Facebook and now we have dozens of cousins exchanging tales their grandparents told them.

Also, ask to look at family Bibles. The ones in my family have not only records of the family of the person who owned it, but records passed down from older Bibles.
by Sandra Taylor G2G2 (2.2k points)
+1 vote
Jerry if your refferring to immgration then that is the record  you need to search for.

It would answer a lot more questions than where they are from.
by Geoff Masters G2G6 Mach 1 (15.4k points)
+1 vote

Have you looked up "Cyndi's List" online [ ]? It covers passenger lists going way back.

It has departures and arrivals.
by George Gibbs G2G Crew (480 points)
edited by Peter Roberts

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