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Norwegian Immigration to USA & Canada
Pre-1820 Approximately 650,000 individuals of all nationalities arrived in America before 1820. Most were English and Welsh. Smaller numbers of German, Irish, Scotch-Irish, Dutch, French, Spanish, African, and other nationalities also arrived. These immigrants tended to settle in the eastern, middle-Atlantic, and southern states. Before January 1, 1820, the U.S. Federal Government did not require captains or masters of vessels to present a passenger list to U.S. officials. The lists that remain for the period before 1820 are varied in content. They range from name only lists to giving the person's full name, age, and country of origin.
1820-1880 Over 10 million immigrants came from northern Europe, the British Isles, and Scandinavia between 1820 and 1880. There was a large increase in the number of immigrants from Germany and Ireland beginning in the 1840s and 1850s. Some settled in large eastern and midwestern cities, but most migrated to the midwest and west.
1880-1920 More than 25 million immigrants, mainly from southern and eastern Europe came to USA. Many came from Germany, Italy, Ireland, Austria-Hungary, Russia, and England. Many settled in the larger cities, including New York City, Chicago, and Philadelphia. From 1820 to 1902 Custom Passengers Lists were kept the Customs Department. In 1883 the Immigration and Naturalization Service started keeping the records, and these are referred to as Immigration Passenger Lists
Bulk immigration from Norway began after the Civil War, in 1865 and 1866. Written contracts were drawn up for the emigrants to sign before sailing to America. These are called The Police Emigration Records: Norwegian Police Emigration Records (1867 - 1973). These Emigration Records are lists of persons intending to emigrate from Norway and contain much genealogical detail on individuals. Lists like the Norwegian Emigration lists were also made by the Swedish and Danish police. You can search for Danish emigrants at The Danish Emigration Archives Emigrants from Norway could cross directly to North America or take a feeder ship to another European port of departure.
To find your Norwegian ancestors you will want to consult
What's Available in Genealogy CDs
Online Immigration Records (Fee-based)
What's Available in Passenger Lists to USA & Canada
What's Available in Passenger Arrivals on CD or in Books
Ships Passenger Lists on Microfilm
NARA & FHC Microfilm Reel Numbers Passenger Lists to North America 1820 to 1957
For help with Naturalization Records, plus online searchable databases, see NaturalizationRecords.com
If the exact date of arrival of a ship is known, you can
read the arrival report in newspapers. For example,
The New York Times which began publication in September 1851, is available at many large libraries. The type of vessel is normally indicated on the arrival
report, which may also give information about events on the voyage. Sometimes names are also given, although full passenger lists are not. You can search the NY Times online! Search
1881-1906 These are off-site pay databases but you may be able to use a free access offer to view them.
Online Free Ships Passenger Lists
Ships Passenger Lists Arriving in the USA & Canada
Ships Passenger Lists (many images of manifests included)
Ships Lists Online
Norwegian Digitalarkivet (English Version)
100 Years of Emigrant Ships from Norway includes Index of Norwegian departures 1825 - 1925
Canadian Passenger Lists 1865-1922
AllCensusRecords.com Search Census Records all years in USA & Canada. Comparison chart of online sites and what census records they have
If you don't know the year your ancestor arrived in the USA, search the 1870, 1900, 1910, 1920 and 1930 census for the year of immigration! Naturalization status is also given.
Looking for other USA records? See USA GENEALOGY
for searchable genealogy databases