German Genealogical Research
Passenger Ship Records
Varying degrees of passenger ship records are available. Probably the most
well known are the Hamburg Passenger Ship Lists. Limited lists are also
available for Bremen. The original lists were almost entirely destroyed
by the German authorities due to lack of storage space. The lists that
are available have been recreated from arrival sources in the United States.
But it should be noted that these are not in any way complete as they only
include immigrants that had a documented place of origin in Germany. There
are also lists available for Wurttemburg emigrants. There is very limited
information available for those who departed through the ports of Antwerp
and Rotterdam during the early years of German emigration in the 1700's
and early 1800's. The Le Havre records are intact but are not widely distributed
on microfilm like the Hamburg records are.
German parish records hold a wealth of information. In the 1800's marriage
records typically indicate the village of origin for the bride and groom,
usually the names of the fathers and their villages and often at least
one of the mothers. Birth records typically give the maiden name of the
mother and the father's occupation. Also three witnesses are customary,
some of which are often relatives in addition to neighbors.
Information is much more limited in the early 1700's, with the birth
record often only giving the father's name. By the late 1700's the mother's
maiden name was usually given in the birth record.
Censuses were taken irregularly in the 1600's and 1700's and may only be
available for limited cities or districts within a state. By the mid to
late 1800's censuses were more common and thorough across the German states,
especially after the unification in 1871. In the early years censuses were
carried out by rulers of varying levels of authority and for a variety
of reasons. Often for the sake of improved taxation of their subjects.
Many censuses were actually carried out by the churches, by documenting
all of their communicants for the rulers who provided the church's financial
Early migration from Germany was most common from the Southwestern states.
Many of these emigrants departed from the Non-German ports of Le Havre,
Antwerp and Rotterdam. This was influenced by the ease of water travel,
especially down the Rhine river. Later emigration spread to the Northern
and Eastern states.
Copyright © 1995-2004 Herb Femling
Updated May 23, 2004
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