One of the research projects at the Center for Family History and Genealogy at Brigham Young University is the Immigrant Ancestors Project (IAP), which has been on-going for 18 years. One of the most difficult issues in genealogical research is to discover the hometown of an immigrant in order to continue research in an earlier country of residence. To locate the birthplaces of immigrants, which are generally missing on the records in arrival countries, IAP identifies and indexes emigration records from European home countries. These records are rich in genealogical information, but they are largely untouched simply because they are not readily available. Most are accessible only by visiting the archives containing the records and are rarely indexed or microfilmed.
The IAP project provides opportunities for students to intern in various repositories of Europe. There, they obtain permissions, then acquire digital images of various record types: passports, passport applications, ship lists, boarding permissions, fugitive records, and more. Students on campus then index those records for the online database. The project is currently indexing records in seven countries: England, Germany, Spain, Italy, France, Portugal, and The Netherlands. The IAP data is available online to anyone researching immigrants. The searchable database now totals over 900,000 names.