BYU Family Historian


Ireland--Emigration and immigration


Irish immigration to the United States and Canada has been marked by peak periods of mass migration in history. Major historical events have triggered the influx of large numbers of Irish immigrants seeking better wages, more comfortable lifestyles, and political or religious freedom. Careless stereotypes have been attached to the immigrants and their methods of travel and lifestyles, but there were numerous ways to immigrate to North America and each course had the potential to create the records needed to identify a home county or parish. Irish emigration across the Atlantic began in the early 1600s. Emigration patterns mirrored the ebbs and flows of emigration from the rest of the British Isles with two notable exceptions: first, the emigration of Scots-Irish Presbyterians to North America in the mid- 1700s, and second, the famine-initiated emigration of mostly Catholics in the mid-1800s. This article focuses on the many record sources in America and Ireland that may be used to link the Irish immigrants with their origins in Ireland. Similar record sources may help trace the many Irish who went to France, South Africa, India, Australia, New Zealand, and elsewhere.


David S. Ouimette is Information Architect and Manager of Collection Management at the Family and Church History Department in Salt Lake City. David's research specialties include family history research in Ireland, Quebec, and the New England states. He frequently lectures at local and national genealogical conferences and workshops. David is author of Finding Your Irish Ancestors: A Beginner’s Guide (Provo, UT: Ancestry, 2005). He received B.S. and M.S. degrees in mathematics from Brigham Young University and currently resides in Highland, Utah.; David R. Rencher is employed by the Family and Church History Department in Salt Lake City where he is the director of the Records and Information Division. A professional genealogist since 1977, he is an Accredited GenealogistCM with ICAPGenSM in Ireland research and a Certified GenealogistSM with the Board for Certification of Genealogists. He is the Irish course coordinator and instructor for the Samford University Institute of Genealogical and Historical Research (IGHR) in Birmingham, Alabama. He graduated from Brigham Young University in 1980 with a BA in family and local history. He is a pastpresident of the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) 1997-2000, a national genealogical society umbrella organization, a past-president of the Utah Genealogical Association (UGA), 1993-1995, and is a Fellow of that organization. He is a Fellow of the Irish Genealogical Research Society, London, and is a vice-president of the Genealogical Society of Utah (GSU). He is currently serving as the Chair of the joint Federation of Genealogical Societies and National Genealogical Society Committee for Record Preservation and Access and serves as a director for the National Institute of Genealogical Research Alumni Association (NIGRAA), and Trustee for the Umpstead, Jr. and Elizabeth Jemima Philpott Rencher and the Winslow Farr, Sr. Family Organizations.



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The BYU Family Historian

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