Hamburg Emigration/Immigration

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For a comprehensive understanding of emigration and immigration records, study the article Germany Emigration and Immigration.

Online Resources[edit | edit source]

History[edit | edit source]

In 1575 a great number of people from the Netherlands immigrated to Hamburg and brought much prosperity to the city. In the 19th century emigration to the United States began. Hamburg was the transitional stop for emigrants from the Northern German coastal countries as well as from Eastern European countries.

During the 19th century mass immigration to the west was occurring. In Germany, Bremen had a good reputation as a port of departure because its laws forced shipowners to provide a basic minimum of space and food. Until 1850, Bremen was a more popular port than Hamburg. For example, from 1841-1846, 115,000 emigrants left Europe via Bremen; however, only 11,000 emigrants departed via Hamburg. In 1847, the Hamburg American Parcel Joint-Stock Company (HAPAG) was founded in Hamburg, which put a number of new ships into service. Before this, conditions on the ships were not good; there was inadequate food and overcrowded rooms. As many as one-fifth of the passengers did not survive the crossing to America. To improve Hamburg's reputation as an emigration port, the Senate passed laws to protect emigrants and guaranteed sufficient food, space, and medical care on the journey.

Conditions improved for emigrants in 1870 with the commission of new steamships. While still cramped, hygiene was much better than the old sailing ships. Starting in 1895, emigrants were segregated based on wealth. The experiences on the ship (and the immigration process into the United States) depended on which class of passengers an emigrant was a part of: first, second, or steerage.

Hamburg became the most important emigration port in Germany by 1900. Between 1830 and 1914, more than four million people left Europe via Hamburg. By 1914, more than one million Eastern European Jews had emigrated to the United States through the port of Hamburg.

To attract immigrants, the HAPAG set up shipping companies throughout Germany and neighboring countries to entice immigrants to come through the port of Hamburg. The improved conditions of the ships also improved the port's reputation. Clean and hygienic accommodations were built in 1900, called Auswandererhallen, to house the increasing emigrants. This attracted even more emigrants to the port of Hamburg. Previous to this, barracks were constructed to house the emigrants but the conditions were deplorable and disease spread quickly. In addition to clean housing, medical exams and disinfections were conducted to ensure that only healthy individuals left the port.[1]

Read all about emigrating through Hamburg by clicking on Germany Emigration and Immigration

Hamburg Passenger Lists[edit | edit source]

A very important tool in tracing German immigrants can be the Hamburg Passenger Lists, which cover the years 1850-1934. Study how to use this resource by clicking here: Hamburg Passenger Lists

Meldepflicht[edit | edit source]

Emigrants could have remained in Hamburg for a while. There was a Meldepflicht (obligation to register) in force since 1833 (mainly for non-Hamburgers), but it was not mandatory until 1892. Foreigners and servants were registered and those in need of passports. Some of these records are available through the FamilySearch Catalog under Place Search (Hamburg), Naturalization and citizenship (Heimatbücher 1826-1864), Population (Meldeprotokolle für Fremde 1868-1889) and Immigration (Reisepassprotokolle 1851-1929).

Schutzverwandtschaft (17th century-1811,1837-1864)[edit | edit source]

To receive the privilege of becoming a citizen (usually not full-status) in Hamburg required consent through the city council. People had to swear alliegiance, pay a yearly fee, and report all suspicious actívities. They could not transfer their privileges to their children. The records are found in the State Archive Hamburg. Key words are Bürgerbücher, Bürgerprotokolle (1596-1902) as well as Heimatscheinprotokolle (1826-1872).

Germany Nationwide Records Websites[edit | edit source]

  • German Emigrant Data Base,covers 1820-1939, main source: New York passenger lists beginning in 1820, supplemented by material found in Germany, ($)

U.S. and German Passenger Lists and Indexes[edit | edit source]

  • "Emigration from the Port of Hamburg, Germany." AVOTAYNU XIV no. 4 (Winter 1998): 19-20.