Family History Expos Genealogy Blog » Research Tips » Weekly Tip: They Didn’t All Get Here By Ship: Border Crossing Records

Weekly Tip: They Didn’t All Get Here By Ship: Border Crossing Records

By Gena Philibert Ortega

When we think of immigration we often start wondering about which port our ancestor used to enter the United States. But not everyone came to America by ship. Some walked or perhaps rode in an automobile over the border from Canada or Mexico. Even though they entered a different way, they still left a paper trail.

What kind of information can you find on a border crossing record? In one Mexican Crossing record for a family member, I was able to see which family members arrived with him, what his occupation was, and the mode of his arrival (listed as afoot). When you find one border crossing record, don’t forget to look for additional crossings. Your ancestors may have crossed back and forth numerous times due to seasonal work opportunities, visiting family, or returning to live in their home country.

While Ancestry does have Mexican and Canadian Border Crossing Records, they do not have all the records that are available. As you search this collection, if you don’t find your ancestor don’t assume that means they did not cross into the United States through a border crossing. To learn more about Mexican Border Crossing records, check out the National Archives . To learn more about Mexican and Canadian border crossing records, see Joe Beine’s, US Ports of Arrival and their Available Passenger Lists 1820-1957 .


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