This guide is an introduction to resources that may be use for ENVR 273: Land and Livelihood with Prof. Ethan Miller. Many more resources may be available depending on the specific location in the United States you are researching, often via state archives or historical societies. Please contact librarian Christine Murray to discuss other resources.
Ancestry contains collections of many different kinds of documents, and you can search across all of them if you have a name, a location, and some approximate dates. You can also search directly within specific collections of documents by finding the collection under Search > Card Catalog.
If any of your ancestors lived in the United States between 1790 and 1940, chances are that you can find at least some of them in the U.S. decennial census schedules. Schedules are the forms used to capture information about all U.S. residents on census years (years ending in zero), and they can be accessed through Ancestry. Depending on the year, you can find where people lived, whether they owned their home, and in some cases the value of their real estate.
The most recent census currently available is from 1940, so you may want to start with a family member who was alive at that time and trace backward.
Ancestry is also a resource for finding where someone emigrated from. In some cases, you will be able to find specific immigration records. But in addition, census records may list parents' countries of origin.
To understand why immigrants came to the U.S., in most cases the best you can do is infer as reason from the history of the country of origin.
For specific countries, you can explore CBBcat by subject, with some examples shown below:
Extensive sources on Native American and treaties can be found on the Native American Studies Research Guide.