A Guide to Genealogy
Research in Arkansas

Emigration and Immigration


Very few Europeans came to the Arkansas area during the years of French and Spanish rule, 1686 to 1803. The 1810 census of the Louisiana Territory listed only 1,062 non-Indian residents in the entire District of Arkansas.

Immigration began in earnest with the cotton boom of 1818. Many families of Scottish, Scotch-Irish, and English descent moved overland from Virginia and the Carolinas through Tennessee and Mississippi or Missouri. They often brought slaves with them. In 1860, Black slaves comprised over one fourth of the population. Most Arkansans today are descended from Anglo-Saxon and Black families who came from older southern states before 1900.

About 1867, the rich land between the Arkansas and White rivers beckoned to large groups of Southern European emigrants. Many families from Poland settled in Pulaski County. A number of Italians located in the northwestern part of the state.

The last Indian tribes had been removed from Arkansas to present-day Oklahoma by 1835. Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs have been transcribed in Jack D. Baker, Cherokee Emigration Rolls, 1817-1835 (Oklahoma City: Baker Pub., 1977; FHL book 970.3 C424be).

Some immigrants landed at New Orleans and traveled up the Mississippi River to Arkansas. The Family History Library has passenger lists for New Orleans from 1820 to 1921 and indexes from 1820 to 1952. The National Archives has passenger lists through 1945 and indexes to 1952.

The American Immigration Page

Naturalization records were generally filed in the circuit courts in each county. About 40 percent of the counties in Arkansas have pre-1907 records. The Family History Library has microfilm copies of the records for some of these counties. For residents of Little Rock (Pulaski County), for example, the library has declarations of intention and some final certificates, 1870 to 1906. Some naturalization papers were filed in the U.S. District Courts located in Fort Smith, Little Rock, and Fort Worth, Texas. A statewide index to naturalization records of Arkansas was compiled by the Works Projects Administration for the years 1809-1906. Copies of this index are at the National Archives--Fort Worth Branch, the Arkansas History Commission, and at the U.S. District Court in Fort Smith. The Family History Library does not have a copy. For naturalization records after September 1906, contact the National Archives--Fort Worth Branch or the local Immigration and Naturalization Service.


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This page was compiled by Edward Hayden.

Copyright 1998 by Edward Hayden, Coordinator. All rights reserved.
This site may be freely linked to but not duplicated in any manner without written consent.