How to Find Ancestors Abroad


Many people are surprised upon discovering how wealthy their family genealogy is in regard to nationality and most people have at least one ancestor who came from abroad. This, however, often poses a major obstacle in tracing family ancestry because it requires research of the records abroad in order to be able to complete the family tree. So if you have suddenly lost trace of your ancestors, there is a great chance that they came from abroad.

Finding your ancestors abroad is not an easy task. Thanks to the Internet, tracing family history has become a lot easier but not all countries have their archives available online. In addition, they will be written in the native language. This does not necessarily mean that you have to be fluent in that language or that you need a translator to be able to continue with the research of your family ancestry because you only need to learn the pattern of the records and what particular categories mean. Not knowing the language in which the records are written, however, can considerably complicate your research.

Before you start looking for your ancestors abroad, you are highly recommended to go through the immigration records first. For example, the immigration records (they are available at the National Archives with many of them being accessible online) can provide you with highly useful information and make your search for ancestors abroad a lot easier. They often give information such as date of arrival, date and place of birth, marital status, children, occupation, the names of the parents, etc. which in turn give you a solid base to continue your research abroad.

In addition to going through the immigration records, it is also a good idea to check the emigration records if you suddenly lost trace of your ancestry. Perhaps your ancestors temporarily left the country for one reason or the other. Emigration records will help you establish if this is the case and if so, where they left and perhaps also why they left.

Searching for your ancestors abroad works pretty much the same than tracing your family ancestry in the UK with the difference that you may be faced with a foreign language and slightly different organisation of the records. The amount and type of information you will find about your ancestors abroad vary from country to country as well as the age of the records. Typically, the older the records the less genealogical information they contain. In addition, the farer you get the harder is to read the records due to the archaic language, handwriting and variation in spelling.

A tip:

Before you book a flight, it is a good idea to search the web to see other people’s experience with tracing genealogy or family history in a particular country because it can save you a great deal of time for searching particular records. Also, keep in mind that many records are easily available online which means that you may not have to travel anywhere to find your ancestors abroad. But if you will have to go through the records on-site, be sure to prepare yourself well for the trip and take along all the information you have.