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A woman and three daughters were born in La Crouais, France. A cemetery record, source unknown, says another daughter was born in Plumaugat, France. But the same daughter's immigration-to-USA record says she was born in Saint-Mars-la-Jaille, France.

Is there an online source for Canadian records that would help with this? Plumaugat is easier to believe, because it is about eleven kilometers from La Crouais. The other place is more than 130 kilometers and is (suspiciously) the place where her husband was born—and they met in Canada. I suspect a US clerk negligently wrote the same thing on both cards.

The mother's obituary says she came to Canada in 1901 and lived there 25 years.  I have reasons to suspect neither is accurate.

An image of both sides of the immigration card: enter image description here

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  • To clarify: you're looking for immigrants arriving in Canada who came to the USA sometime after 1895 when US Border Crosssing records began. Do you have any time frame for when they arrived in Canada? Also, could you tell me the NARA microfilm number of the border crossing record you're looking at so I can think about scope and content and the record creation process of that US record collection?
    – Jan Murphy
    Apr 23 at 19:33
  • I don't know the NARA citation because I pulled it from the Mormon search site.
    – WGroleau
    Apr 23 at 20:35
  • Can you see a form number on the card itself? In any case, the time frame matters greatly during this period. If you could give more data about when events may have taken place, it will improve the question.
    – Jan Murphy
    Apr 23 at 21:58
  • I can't navigate to the record via the link you posted. When I click on the link, it redirects me to unigen.us/tree/HHH (perhaps because I don't have an account and am not logged in). Can you take a screenshot of at least part of the card so I can see what form it is? If I have to ask one of my expert friends, they'll want to know.
    – Jan Murphy
    Apr 23 at 22:02
  • See the table in this FamilySearch Wiki article familysearch.org/en/wiki/…
    – Jan Murphy
    Apr 23 at 22:04

1 Answer 1

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This is a general answer which can be refined as more information becomes available. Your best bet is to make a timeline of events and associated records for all the individuals involved so you can use it as a reference.

When determining whether an individual is in any archival record collection, it helps to gather the following information:

  • any and all names that the individual might be known by
  • the dates of the relevant events you want to look for
  • the places where the events took place

In her presentation from NARA's 2015 Virtual Genealogy Fair, "Broke, But Not Out of Luck: Exploring Bankruptcy Records for Genealogy Research", NARA archivist Jessica Hopkins described this trio of name + time + place the "three-legged stool". If you have all three elements, you have a stable place to stand when you begin your search. This is a sound principle for any research question that involves searching in an archive because:

  • Records for events like immigration are kept because of laws. Knowing the date the event might have taken place is a pointer to what laws were in effect at the time and what laws were in effect. (Keep in mind that when laws change, there may be a lag time to get a new system in place, and there may not have been 100% compliance at first.)
  • Knowing the place the event took place may determine what archive now holds the records that were kept, or if they are all in the same archive, they may determine what record series or fonds hold the records you are looking for.
  • When you request the record, it helps to be able to give the archivist enough information that they know they're pulling the right file for you. (The same principle applies when accessing records online via a search form. You need to be flexible in the use of wildcards and keywords because you don't know how indexed records might be indexed.)

The FamilySearch Wiki article Tracing Immigrants Search Strategies is a sub-page under United States Emigration and Immigration, but the same principles apply. Start with the records your cluster created in the United States, then work backwards in time and search for Canadian records before trying to move back to France.

Study the entire family group (the F in FAN Club) and study all the records as a group as you analyze them for clues. Along with your timeline, make a log of the records you have collected, listed in the order the records were created. Putting the records in their own 'birth order' helps you keep track of which events (like birthplaces) are found in records created much later than the event happened.

A final caution: While it is important to keep the dates of immigration events in mind when you are thinking about what records may have been created at the time, bear in mind that other records about the event can be created much later on. For example, if a person naturalized in the United States after 1906, their petiton might talk about events that happened decades earlier, and if they corresponded with the US goverment about their naturalization, those letters might have been created decades after that event. The same principle applies for any event where an individual contacts a governmental agency. If you search too narrowly, you may miss out on finding relevant records.

Note: I have added links to Naturalization records in Canada because information about immigrant arrivals is often included in documents about an immigrant's naturalization.

Resources:

Related questions:

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  • This goes way beyond the actual question, but it's all good info. Unfortunately, the answer to the actual question—online Canadian immigration records—didn't help. Marie's sister and mother are in there in their second of three entries, but the rest of the family and their first arrival are missing. And if she had been with them on that trip, it wouldn't have helped as the place of birth is not there.
    – WGroleau
    Apr 24 at 2:24
  • @WGroleau I have updated the answer to remind people to scroll down and look at the actual content on the page at Olive Tree Genealogy. The site owner is deceased, so we're lucky to still have access to it. As you can see, OTG is decades old.
    – Jan Murphy
    Apr 24 at 6:12
  • I guess "second of three entries" is vague. The family came to Canada, and some of them returned to France. One of them died in Paris before WW1 and another died in the battle of Verdun. The mother and three daughters went to France and came back to Canada, passing through New York. The Canadian site has no record of that return. It does have a record of the mother and one daughter coming in later—the "second entrance" I mentioned. But "of three" is my mistake. Their third immigration was actually from Canada to USA.
    – WGroleau
    Apr 24 at 6:20
  • I don't know what you mean when you say "the Canadian sight". Can you be more specific about what you searched and where? What record collection did you search?
    – Jan Murphy
    Apr 24 at 6:23
  • The Canadian site for immigration records. Searching both Ménage and Mesnage does not show trips I know they made (from other evidence). And what it does have does not resolve the birth place contradiction. The existence of that site does answer the question "are there online immigration records" but not "are there online sources to help with the birth place question." The question really is too broad. You've given a wealth of suggestions; it will take a long time to check them out. I "accepted" it as an answer because I suspect no one can give a specific answer to such a broad question.
    – WGroleau
    Apr 24 at 15:17

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