Alabama Emigration and Immigration

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Nearly 50 million people have immigrated to the United States. You can gain essential information from immigration records such as your ancestors’ arrival date, port of departure and arrival, names of other family or community members, and the country they came from.

The United States Research Outline "Emigration and Immigration" section lists several important sources for finding information about immigrants. These nationwide sources include many references to people who settled in Alabama. The Tracing Immigrant Origins introduces principles, search strategies, and additional record types you can use to identify an immigrant ancestor’s original hometown.

During the early 1700s, some French and Spanish families immigrated to the southern coastal area, but most pre-statehood settlers of Alabama came from the older southern states, especially North and South Carolina and Georgia. Many of these were cotton planters of English or Ulster Scots origin. Many slaves were brought to the state. Most American Indians were moved westward to Oklahoma by 1839, but a few hundred Creek Indians still live in southern Alabama.

Mobile has been a port of entry for overseas immigrants since early colonial times. Relatively few overseas immigrants who came in the 1800s stayed in Alabama. The Family History Library and the National Archives have the following indexes and records:

Indexes to passengers arriving at Mobile are:

Connick, Lucille Mallon. Lists of Ships Passengers, Mobile, Alabama. Two Volumes. Mobile, Alabama: L.M. Connick, 1988. (FHL book 976.122 W3c.) Volume One has passenger lists for 1838 to 1840; Volume Two has lists for 1841 to 1860. These provide the ship’s name; the name of the ship’s captain or pilot; and the names of passengers, often with their age, country of birth, occupation, and residence.

United States. Immigration and Naturalization Service. Index to Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Miscellaneous Ports in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina, 1890–1924. National Archives Microfilm Publications, T0517. Washington, DC: Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1957. (FHL films 1324938–63.)

Mobile passenger lists are available on microfilm:

United States. Bureau of Customs. Copies of Lists of Passengers Arriving at Miscellaneous Ports on the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts and at Ports on the Great Lakes, 1820–1873. National Archives Microfilm Publications, M0575. Washington, DC: National Archives, 1964. (FHL film 830234.) The film includes portions of Mobile lists for 1832 and 1849 to 1852.

United States. Bureau of Customs. A Supplemental Index to Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Atlantic & Gulf Coast Ports (Excluding New York) 1820–1874. National Archives Microfilm Publications, M0334. Washington, DC: National Archives and Record Services, 1960. (FHL films 418161–348.) This film indexes Mobile passengers for 1832, 1849 to 1852.

Migration. A source listing persons traveling through Indian lands is:

Potter, Dorothy Williams. Passports of Southeastern Pioneers, 1770–1823: Indian, Spanish, and Other Land Passports for Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, Mississippi, Virginia, North and South Carolina. Baltimore, Maryland: Gateway Press, 1982. (FHL book 975 W4p.) During the period from 1798 to 1819 Alabama was part of the Mississippi Territory. These records list people going from the Mississippi Territory elsewhere, or coming into the Mississippi Territory from other states. The records also mention people who obtained passports from the Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Cherokee Indian agencies to pass through their land. The book is well indexed.

Alabama immigration records are listed in the Place Search of the Family History Library Catalog under: