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Where Can I Learn More on the Causes and Patterns of U.S. Migrations?

Migration patterns developed as pioneer settlers moved to take advantage of new opportunities in the U.S. While much of the movement was westward, other patterns emerged as well. There are many sources available on U.S. migration written by leading historians, professional genealogists, amateur historians and genealogists, as well as trail experts, and others who have experience with the movement of groups and individuals within the boundaries of the U.S.

Before air-travel became common place there were three main types of travel – by water, by trail, and by train. Keep these in mind as you study migrations of people. Some migrations may have used all three in the crossing of the U.S.

General resources to check out include websites, books, and maps. Here are a few you worth checking out:


Cyndi’s List

FamilySearch Research Wiki (Once on the site search for “United States Migration”)

Early American Roads and Trails by Beverly Whitaker

The American West – History, maps, transportation, etc. –

The National Road – Site by the National Parks Service

Oregon Historic Pioneer Trail – Site by the National Parks Services

Diaries, Memoirs, Letters and Reports Along The Trails West

Emigrant Lists


Adams, James Truslow. Atlas of American History. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1943. [FHL book 973 E3a; also on microfilm 1415259] (Some excellent maps of migration routes in America. Also includes many other maps of historical events in the U.S.)<br>

Atwood, Wallace W. The Physiographic Provinces of North America. Boston: Ginn, 1940.<br>

Billington, Ray Allen. Westward Expansion: a History of the American Frontier. 5th ed. New York: Macmillan, 1982. [FHL book 973 H3bw] (This is an excellent introduction regarding migration routes and settlement patterns, with a good bibliography and some maps)<br>

Turner, Frederick Jackson. The Frontier in American History. Tucson, Arizona: University of Arizona Press, c1986. Reprint. [FHL book 973 H2tf] (Turner is considered to be a leader in dissecting American history)<br>

White, C. Langdon & Edwin J. Foscue. Regional Geography of North America. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1943. (Considered a standard reference; supplements Atwood)<br>


Historical Maps at the Perry-Castaneda Library at the University of Texas –

Trails West: A Map of Early Western Migration Trails –

Eldridge, Carrie. An Atlas of Northern Trails Westward from New England. Huntington, West Virginia; CDM Printing, c2000  (She has a series for different regions of the U.S. these contain very nice maps and trail descriptions)

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