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 support. 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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