Search for family records easily on the Internet without having to visit libraries or seek out archives across the country or around the world. While many of these search engines and genealogy tools are free to the public, some request donations or memberships for more exclusive access to records. Often, it is worth it instead of the cost to travel to find those records. Once all the records are assembled, then a travel to ones homeland will be more enjoyable and complete.
When using searches, try various spellings of the surname (i.e. Smith, Smyth, Smythe, etc). Often, records have variant spellings because the transcriber may not have understood the original spelling or knew how to translate a foreign sound.
Most searches start with Ellis Island- the entry point to the U.S. for most European and Asian immigrants during the 1800-early 1900s. These records have been preserved and are available to view and order online. Examine the records online for free, search for specific people, ships and travel dates. Begin your search at ellisisland.org.