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Emigration Records

What are Emigration Registers?


Emigration and immigration sources list the names of people leaving (emigration) or coming into (immigration) a country. These lists are usually found as passenger lists, permissions to emigrate, and records of passports issued. The information in these records may include the emigrants’ names, ages, occupations, destinations, ports of emigration, and occasionally places of origin or birthplaces.

These sources can help you determine where in Brazil your ancestor came from and where he or she came from prior to settling in Brazil. These records can also help you construct family groups. If you do not find your ancestor, you may find emigration information on your ancestor’s neighbors. People often emigrated with neighbors and friends from the same communities.

Europeans left Europe (Portugal) for Brazil from the 1530s onward. General immigration began in the 1800s with the transfer of the court from Lisbon to Rio de Janeiro when a royal decree in 1808 opened the ports of Brazil to direct trade with foreign countries. For the first time, citizens of other countries were welcome to enter in substantial numbers and become permanent citizens and landowners in Brazil.

Although many foreigners came at that time, most newcomers continued to come from Portugal. The Portuguese were not regarded as foreigners and usually did not consider themselves immigrants. Many originally did not intend to become permanent residents in Brazil.

Brazil remained relatively unattractive to many potential immigrants of the 19th century while slavery existed. Before 1850 the number of immigrants to Brazil seldom exceeded 2,000 per year. But with the demise of the slave trade in Brazil, immigration to Brazil steadily increased. A peak of immigration was reached in 1888, the year slavery was abolished, with 133,253 emigrants. An estimated 750,000 Europeans had immigrated to Brazil by that date. From this point on, immigration increased dramatically. Nearly five million immigrants came to Brazil from 1884 to 1963, half of whom arrived between 1889 and 1913.


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