Pennsylvania Emigration and Immigration

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Introduction[edit | edit source]

The United States Emigration and Immigration Wiki article lists several important sources for finding information about immigrants. These nationwide sources include many references to people who settled in Pennsylvania. The Tracing Immigrant Origins Wiki article introduces the principles, search strategies, and additional record types you can use to identify an immigrant ancestor's original hometown.

Online Resources[edit | edit source]

People[edit | edit source]

New Sweden. The first permanent European settlers in Pennsylvania were the Swedes and Finns who, starting in 1638, settled between present-day Wilmington, Delaware and Philadelphia, and small settlements in West New Jersey.[1][2] For more details see the New Sweden Genealogy wiki article.

New Netherland. The Dutch built a trade center blockhouse "at the Schuylkill" (now Philadelphia) in 1633 (earlier than the Swedish) but abandoned it in about 1643.[3][4] From 1648 to 1651 the Dutch built and garrisoned Fort Beversrede ("beaver road") in what is now Philadelphia. In order to intercept Minqua Indian fur traders coming down the Schuylkill River, and stifle competition, the Swedish built a blockhouse between the river and fort and only 12 feet in front of the palisade gates of Beversrede.[5][6][7][8] When the Dutch built another fort in present-day New Castle, Delaware the Swedes captured it without a fight in 1654.[9][10][11] But the Dutch returned in 1655 and took possession of all New Sweden. For more details see the New Netherland Genealogy wiki article.

British Empire. In 1642 Englishmen from New Haven, Connecticut built a blockhouse at Province Island (now Philadelphia Airport) but were promptly driven out by the Dutch and Swedish. In 1664 as part of the Second Anglo-Dutch War the British forced New Netherland into submission. By 1670 the English, Irish, and Welsh predominated in the area. They settled mostly in Philadelphia and the eastern counties.[12]

Germans began coming to Pennsylvania in large numbers at the end of the 1600s. Pennsylvania was the top destination for German immigrants arriving in Colonial North America.[13] They settled first in the eastern counties and later migrated to western Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, and Virginia. Many Pennsylvania Germans also migrated later to North Carolina, Kentucky, Ohio, and Illinois.

  • Kuhns, Oscar. The German and Swiss Settlements of Colonial Pennsylvania: A Study of the So-Called Pennsylvania Dutch. Ann Arbor, Mich.: Gryphon Books, 1971. Digital version at FamilySearch Digital Library.

Scots-Irish started coming in large numbers after 1718. They settled first in the western Chester County area (later Lancaster county) and moved west over the Susquehanna River valley and Cumberland Valley area and later pushed into the western Pennsylvania counties of Westmoreland, Fayette, Washington, Greene, and Allegheny. Many Scotch-Irish eventually moved into southern states such as Virginia, Maryland, the Carolinas, and Kentucky. French Huguenot and Swiss families mingled with the Germans. Some Huguenots from New York migrated to Pennsylvania and settled in Berks and Lancaster counties. Swiss Mennonites began to settle in Lancaster county about 1710.

  • Dunaway, Wayland F. The Scotch-Irish of Colonial Pennsylvania. Chapel Hill, N.C.: The University of North Carolina Press, 1944. Free digital version at PA's Past: Digital Bookshelf at Penn State. Includes chapters on their Ulster background in Ireland, immigration, places of settlement in Pennsylvania, military involvement, economic, social, religious, educational, and cultural contributions.

Irish Quakers came to Pennsylvania as early as the 17th Century. An outstanding historical study with brief biographies and names of extended family members remaining in Ireland, and which provides a summary of Irish Quaker emigration and migration to the state, is: Immigration of Irish Quakers to Pennsylvania, 1682-1750 .

Welsh Quakers also came to Pennsylvania as early as the 17th century. Many more came in the nineteenth-century to work in the coal industry. An excellent history identifying many of the original Welsh settlers is:

  • Glenn, Thomas Allen. Welsh Founders of Pennsylvania. Oxford: Fox, Jones and Company, 1911. Digital version of Vol. 1 at FamilySearch Digital Library.

There are many online resources for finding Irish emigrant ancestry to the United States and Pennsylvania in particular. Visit a significant website containing several Irish immigration website links for Pennsylvania.

It was estimated that 3000 to 4000 Irish immigrants arrived at the port of Philadelphia in the decades before and after the Revolution.[14]

French settlers were minorities in Colonial Pennsylvania.[15] Ship masters paid duties for importing African slaves into the colony.[16]

Many people came to Pennsylvania and the other colonies as indentured servants. For an excellent discussion of "unfree labor," see Sharon V. Salinger, To Serve Well and Faithfully: Labor and Indentured Servants in Pennsylvania, 1682-1800 (New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1987; Family History Library book FHL book 974.8 E6ss. It includes the names of some individuals who were indentured servants. The sources Salinger used can provide examples of the kind of records to search to find out information about these individuals.

Various immigrant aid societies assisted poor Europeans (usually focusing on a single nationality) who wished to settle in Pennsylvania, including (with year organized and nationality):

  • The Society of Ancient Bretons (org. 1729 - Welsh), known as The Welsh Society from 1802 forward
  • The St. Andrew's Society of Philadelphia (1749 - Scots)
  • Hibernian Club of Philadelphia (1759 - Irish)
  • Die Deutsche Gesellschaft zu Philadelphia (1764 - Germans)
  • Friendly Sons of St. Patrick (1771 - Irish)
  • The Society of the Sons of St. George (1772 - English)
  • The Hibernian Society for the Relief of Emigrants from Ireland (1790 - Irish)
  • La Société Française de Bienfaisance de Philadelphie, pour conseiller et secourir les Français (1791 - French)
  • The German Lutheran Aid Society (1790 - German)
  • The Philadelphia Society for the Information and Assistance of Emigrants and Persons Emigrating from Foreign Countries (1793)[17]

In the 1870s Pennsylvania attracted large numbers of immigrants from southern and eastern Europe. These included Slavs, Poles, Italians, Jews, Russians, and Greeks. During the 19th and especially the 20th centuries, blacks from the southern states also moved to Pennsylvania in large numbers.

For an account of some of these groups see:

  • Bodnar, John E. The Ethnic Experience in Pennsylvania. (Lewisburg, Pa.: Bucknell University Press, 1973). FHL book 974.8 F2bo.

Records[edit | edit source]

Philadelphia has been a major port of entry for European immigrants since the seventeenth century. The Family History Library has microfilm copies of passenger arrival records from the National Archives, including:

  • Indexes,1800-1882, 1883-1948, 1906-1926
  • Lists, 1800-1906, 1883-1921 Pennsylvania passenger lists for 1 July 1948 to 30 November 1954 were destroyed before they were microfilmed.
  • Bentley, Elizabeth P., and Michael H. Tepper.Passenger Arrivals at the Port of Philadelphia, 1800-1819. Baltimore, Maryland.: Genealogical Publishing, 1986. FHL book 974.811 W3p

An interesting collection of records compiled during the Revolutionary War period that may provide helpful information on families is Pennsylvania, Supreme Executive Council, Application for Passes, 1775-1790 (Family History Library film FHL film 1759080. See Guide to the Microfilm of the Records of Pennsylvania Revolutionary Governments, 1775-1790 in the "Archives and Libraries" article on this site for a list of names in these records.

  • The Israel Daniel Rupp Collection of 30,000 Pennsylvania immigrants from 1727-1776 is online at FamilySearch Digital Library.

    For the period 1792-1794, there is A Health Officer's Register of Passenger's Names at the State Archives (but not at the Family History Library) that lists the names of ship passengers.

    In Pennsylvania Archives, Series 2 vol. 17, pp. 521-667, is Names of Foreigners Arriving in Pennsylvania, 1786-1808, which appears to be the same records covering a longer span of time. Some entries include place of birth. They are also included in Strassburger and Hinke, Pennsylvania German Pioneers, which is listed below.

See Also:

  • Over 200,000 names of immigrants and naturalized aliens in Pennsylvania are indexed in the following source: *Filby, P. William. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index. 15 vols. Detroit, Michigan: Gale Research, 1981-. FHL book 973.W32p The first three volumes are a combined alphabetical index published in 1981. Supplemental volumes have been issued annually. There are also cumulative 1982 to 1985, 1986 to 1900, and 1991 to 1997 supplements. These volumes index names of colonial immigrants listed in published sources.
  • A large alphabetically-arranged 54 volume manuscript collection at the Chester County Historical Society is Albert C. Meyers, comp., Notes on Immigrants to Pennsylvania, 1681-1737 (on 14 Family History Library films beginning with FHL film 567010 item 2.
  • Emigrants to Pennsylvania, 1641-1819: A Consolidation of Ship Passenger Lists from the Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography. Baltimore, Maryland.: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. FHL book 974.8 W3t.
  • Coldham, Peter Wilson. The Complete Book of Emigrants, 1607-1776 and Emigrants in Bondage, 1614-1775. [Novato, California]: Brøderbund Software, 1996. (Family History Library compact disc no. 9 pt. 350). Not available at Family History Centers. A comprehensive list of about 140,000 immigrants to America from Britain. Includes Pennsylvania immigrants. It may show British hometown, emigration date, ship, destination, and text of the document abstract.

Jordan's article includes passenger lists for many Moravians entering the colony:

  • Jordan, John W. "Moravian Immigration to Pennsylvania, 1734-1765," The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 33 (1909):228-256. For free online access, see WeRelate.

Quakers kept records of members who moved from the British Isles to America. Records from some of the English monthly meetings of departures for America (Pennsylvania in particular) have been published:

  • 1666-1729 - Cope, Gilbert. "Notes from Friends' Records in England," Publications of the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania, Vol. 3, No. 3 (Jun. 1908):226-236. For free online access, see WeRelate; the Family History Library also has this series in its collection: FHL Book 974.8 B2p.
  • Records of major ethnic groups are listed in the Locality Search of the FamilySearch Catalog under PENNSYLVANIA - EMIGRATION AND IMMIGRATION, and under PENNSYLVANIA - MINORITIES. See also Pennsylvania Cultural Groups. Published studies include those for the Schwenkfelder, Quaker, Welsh, Scotch-Irish, Amish, and Huguenot groups. Many passenger lists are now available on the internet. Use a search engine with "Pennsylvania Passenger Lists" terms to identify currently available lists.

Ships[edit | edit source]

A list of colonial ships for the Port of Philadelphia has been compiled. Though the names of passengers are not identified, it is possible to identify the ships' movements, owners, places built, and tonnage, see:

  • "Ship Registers for the Port of Philadelphia, 1726-1775," The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, 1726-1730: Vol. 23 (1899):254-264; 1730-1736: Vol. 23 (1899):370-385; 1736/7-1739: Vol. 23 (1899):498-515; 1740-1742: Vol. 24 (1900):108-115; 1742-1745: Vol. 24 (1900):212-223; 1745-1747: Vol. 24 (1900):348-366; 1748-1750: Vol. 24 (1900):500-519; 1750-1751: Vol. 25 (1901):118-131; 1751-1752: Vol. 25 (1901):266-281; 1752-1754: Vol. 25 (1901):400-416; 1755-1756: Vol. 25 (1901):560-574; 1757-1758: Vol. 26 (1902):126-143; 1759: Vol. 26 (1902):280-284; 1759: Vol. 26 (1902):390-400; 1759-1760: Vol. 26 (1902):470-475; 1760-1761: Vol. 27 (1903):94-107; 1761: Vol. 27 (1903):238-245; 1761-1765: Vol. 27 (1903):346-370; 1765-1767: Vol. 27 (1903):482-498; 1767-1768: Vol. 28 (1904):84-100; 1769-1770: Vol. 28 (1904):218-235; 1770-1772: Vol. 28 (1904):346-374; 1773-1775: Vol. 28 (1904):470-507. For free online access, see WeRelate.

Pennsylvania Ships Registers 1762-1776 available online - free.

Many ships that sailed from Bristol, England to Pennsylvania are described in: Bristol, Africa and the Eighteenth-Century Slave Trade to America 1698-1807 (4 vols.) FHL British Books 942.41/B2 B4b v. 38-39, 42, 47. All four volumes are available for free online at the Bristol Record Society website.

Dr. Marianne S. Wokeck created a detailed list of "German Immigrant Voyages, 1683-1775" to Colonial America. Philadelphia was the most popular destination. She published the list in an Appendix to:

  • Wokeck, Marianne S. Trade in Strangers: The Beginnings of Mass Migration to North America. University Park, Pa.: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1999. FHL Book 970 W2w.

Pennsylvania Crew Lists[edit | edit source]

Migration Out of Pennsylvania[edit | edit source]

During the colonial period, many immigrants lived temporarily in Pennsylvania before resettling elsewhere in the colonies - particularly those of German and Scotch-Irish background. Many went to the backcountry regions of Virginia and North Carolina.[18]

Dorothy Williams Potter in Passports of Southeastern Pioneers 1770-1823 (FHL Book 975 W4p) identifies some migrants from Pennsylvania into territories that are now Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Missouri.

Websites[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "New Sweden" in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia (accessed 7 November 2008).
  2. Amandus Johnson, "Detailed Map of New Sweden 1638-1655" in Amandus Johnson's book The Swedes on the Delaware 1638-1664 (Philadelphia: Swedish Colonial Society, 1915), 392.
  3. Johnson, Detailed Map. This blockhouse is mentioned in Johnson's legend, but not displayed on his map, probably because it was replaced by a Swedish fort.
  4. Edmund Bailey O'Callaghan, History of New Netherland, 2nd ed. (New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1855; digitized by Google, 2006), 2: 79. "The Swedes had already destroyed the trading-house, which the former [Dutch] had built at Schuylkill, and built a fort in its place."
  5. Johnson, Detailed Map.
  6. Philip S. Klein, and Ari Hoogenboom, History of Pennsylvania, 2nd ed. (University Park, Penn.: Penn State Press, 1980; digitized by Google), 11. "Stuyvesant in the spring of 1648 sent an expedition to build a fort on the Schuylkill further inland than any of the Swedish posts. This he called Fort Beversreede — 'beaver road' — for its purpose was to be the first point of contact with the Minqua traders. But before the summer had passed, Printz built a Swedish fort, 'right in front of our Fort Beversreede,' wrote an indignant Dutchman. This building stood between the water's edge and the Dutch blockhouse, its back wall standing just twelve feet from the palisade gate of Fort Beversreede. The Indians thus found Swedes at the anchoring place, and could not even see the Dutch post from the water."
  7. Peter Stebbins Craig, "Chronology of Colonial Swedes on the Delaware 1638-1712" in The Swedish Colonial Society (accessed 10 November 2008). Originally published in Swedish Colonial News, vol. 2, number 5 (Fall 2001). "[1648] Dutch build Fort Beversreede on east side of Schuylkill, but Swedes thwart Dutch attempts to build dwellings in area."
  8. John Thomas Scharf, and Thompson Westcott, History of Philadelphia, 1609-1884, vol. 2 (Philadelphia: L.H. Everets, 1884; digitized by Google, 2006), 1024. "The Dutch Fort Beversrede was built immediately opposite Minquas, or Mingo, or Eagle's Nest Creek, to command the trade in furs (skins) brought that way by the savages."
  9. Johnson, Detailed Map.
  10. "Fort Casimir" in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia (accessed 7 November 2008).
  11. Klein and Hoogenboom.
  12. Wayland Fuller Dunaway, "The English Settlers in Colonial Pennsylvania," The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 52, No. 4 (Oct. 1928):317-341. For free online access, see WeRelate.
  13. Marianne Wokeck, "The Flow and the Composition of German Immigration to Philadelphia, 1727-1775," The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 105, No. 3 (Jul. 1981):249-278. For free online access, see WeRelate.
  14. Edward C. Carter, "A 'Wild Irishman' Under Every Federalist's Bed: Naturalization in Philadelphia, 1789-1806," The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 94, No. 3 (Jul. 1970):331-346. For free online access, see WeRelate.
  15. Wayland Fuller Dunaway, "The French Racial Strain in Colonial Pennsylvania," The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 53, No. 4 (Oct. 1929):322-342. For free online access, see WeRelate.
  16. Darold D. Wax, "Negro Import Duties in Colonial Pennsylvania," The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 97, No. 1 (Jan. 1973):22-44. For free online access, see WeRelate.
  17. Erna Risch, "Immigrant Aid Societies Before 1820," The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 60, No. 1 (Jan. 1936):15-33; John G. Frank and John E. Pomfret, "The German Lutheran Aid Society of 1790," The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 63, No. 1 (Jan. 1939):60-65. For free online access to both articles, see WeRelate.
  18. Wayland Fuller Dunaway, "Pennsylvania as an Early Distributing Center of Population," The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 55, No. 2 (Apr. 1931):134-169; William H. Gehrke, "The Beginning of the Pennsylvania-German Element in Rowan and Cabarrus Counties, North Carolina," The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 58, No. 4 (Oct. 1934):342-369. For free online access to both articles, see WeRelate.

Wiki articles describing online collections are found at: