Maryland Emigration and Immigration

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The People[edit | edit source]

White settlers in colonial Maryland were primarily from the British Isles. In 1660 many English immigrants began settling the Eastern Shore (east of Chesapeake Bay) in what is now Wicomico County. Nearly all British immigrants to colonial Maryland came either as servants or convicts. Maryland received more indentured servants than any other colony.

The earlier colonists settled along Maryland's rivers and bays, as these were the primary routes of transportation. By about 1740, English, Scottish, and Scotch-Irish immigrants began moving into the Appalachian section of western Maryland.

The largest group of non-British persons in the colonial period were Rhineland Germans who were encouraged by Maryland officials to settle in the rich farm lands of western Maryland in the 1730s and 1740s. Many of these Germans came through Philadelphia. A few Dutch, Swedish, Huguenot, and Acadian refugee families also came to the colony.

Slave labor was introduced in the early decades of the seventeenth century when slaves from Barbados were imported to labor in the tobacco fields of southern Maryland. Vast numbers of Blacks were later shipped directly from Africa to the Chesapeake. Some of these Blacks obtained their freedom. By 1800, Maryland had the largest free Black population in the United States.

Migrations from Maryland began in the early years of the colony. Travelers generally followed the Cumberland Trail (Braddock Road) that led west to Pittsburgh and from there to the Ohio River. Many people also used the Great Trading Path, also called the Great Philadelphia Wagon Road, that led southwest along the Allegheny Ridge into the Shenandoah Valley and beyond. Some Marylanders from Prince George's County went to the Carolinas. A group of Catholics from St. Mary's County settled in Nelson County, Kentucky. By the 1820s some wealthy young Marylanders were moving slaves from their home farms to open plantations in Mississippi and surrounding areas.

Southerners fleeing the devastation of the Civil War and new immigrants from overseas helped to offset population losses. During the heavy period of immigration from 1830 through 1860, approximately half the immigrants were Germans and a third were Irish. These immigrants tended to remain in the cities, especially Baltimore City, Maryland.

In the 1870s and 1880s virtually all immigrants were of German origin. In the post-1880 wave of immigration, large numbers of Germans continued to come to Maryland. They were joined by Poles, Bohemians, Lithuanians, Greeks, Jews (from Germany, Poland, and Russia), Czechs, Italians, and Irish.

Histories of ethnic groups are listed in the Locality Search of the Family History Library Catalog under MARYLAND - MINORITIES. An example is:

Cunz, Dieter. The Maryland Germans: A History. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1948. (FHL book 975.2 F2c; fiche 6048035.)

Early Settlers. An excellent index of over 2,500,000 names found in more than 2,500 published sources is:

Filby, P. William. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index. 15 Volumes. 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 1990, and 1991 to 1997 supplements. This does not index official U.S. arrival lists or manuscript sources, but it does index the names of many people who immigrated between 1538 and the 1900s and who are listed in published sources.

A comprehensive list of about 140,000 immigrants who came to America from Britain from 1607 to 1776 is:

Coldham, Peter Wilson. The Complete Book of Emigrants, 1607-1776 and Emigrants in Bondage, 1614-1775. Novato, California: Brøderbund Software, 1996. (FHL compact disc no. 9 pt. 350; not available at Family History Centers.) Many immigrants to Maryland are listed. It may show the British hometown, emigration date, ship, destination, and text of the document abstract.

Immigration Records[edit | edit source]

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

The major port of entry into Maryland was Baltimore. Most Baltimore passenger lists are on microfilm at the National Archives, the Maryland Historical Society, the Baltimore City Archives, and the Family History Library. Some immigrants arrived at Annapolis, Havre de Grace, Nottingham, and St. Mary's, but there are few existing records of these ports.

Baltimore City Arrivals, 1820 to 1891. The following types of records can help you identify an ancestor who arrived in Baltimore City, Maryland between 1820 and 1891:

Customs passenger lists of Baltimore City were kept beginning in January 1820, but most of the early lists are missing and were reportedly destroyed by a fire. The Family History Library has the following records in one collection on FHL films 417383-432.

  • Surviving U.S. Customs passenger lists from 1 January 1840 to 28 December 1891.
  • Baltimore City lists for 4 September 1833 to 13 June 1866 (with some gaps). During these years, ship masters were required to submit copies of their passenger lists to the mayor of Baltimore. These city lists partially replace the missing original lists.
  • Cargo manifests from 2 September 1820 to 30 March 1821 and 19 August 1832.

Indexes to customs passenger lists, 1820 to 1897. A soundex card index to the U.S. Customs passenger lists indexes the federal lists for 1820 to 1897 (FHL films 417212-382). A separate soundex card index includes the individuals appearing in the city lists from 1833 to 1866 (FHL films 821565-86). Both indexes have the same format and give all information found on the original lists except the name of the ship master and the port of embarkation.

Quarterly abstracts of Baltimore City passenger lists. Beginning in 1820, U.S. Customs collectors were required to send quarterly copies of the customs lists to the U.S. Secretary of State who published transcripts for Congress.

These quarterly abstracts or copies give the quarter-year of an individual's arrival and sometimes the port of embarkation. Passengers' given names are usually shortened to the initial letter, but otherwise the information is the same as that found in the original lists. Use the abstracts when the original list is missing. The abstracts also have many gaps, and some years are missing. The Family History Library has the abstracts for the following years (FHL films 1376177-82):

  • January 1820 to December 1845
  • July 1848 to September 1850
  • March 1857 to June 1869

Indexes to the quarterly abstracts. There are two indexes to the abstracts. Those up to 1834 are indexed in:

Bentley, Elizabeth P., and Michael H. Tepper, eds. Passenger Arrivals at the Port of Baltimore, 1820-1834: From Customs Passenger Lists. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1982. (FHL book 975.26 W3p.) This also indexes the few city lists, cargo manifests, and state department transcripts for this period.

A second and more comprehensive index is:

United States. Bureau of Customs. A Supplemental Index to Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Atlantic and Gulf Coast Ports (Excluding New York) 1820-1874. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Service, 1960. (FHL films 418161-348.) This indexes the Baltimore City abstracts through June 1869 and the existing Annapolis and Havre de Grace lists (see the paragraph labelled "Other Ports").

Indexes of German Immigrants. Many of the customs lists and indexes include the birthplace or city of last permanent residence of German immigrants. This is because most Germans who came to Baltimore left from the port of Bremen, and the lists of ships arriving from Bremen often give this information.

There is an ongoing project to index an estimated 700,000 Germans who arrived at various U.S. ports including Baltimore City. The first volumes have been published in:

Glazier, Ira A., and P. William Filby, eds. Germans to America: Lists of Passengers Arriving at U.S. Ports, 1850-1887+. 54+ Volumes. Wilmington, Delaware: Scholarly Resources, Inc., 1988-. (FHL book 973 W2ger.)

Baltimore Arrivals, 1892-. The National Archives has the immigration passenger lists and indexes of Baltimore City since 1892. The Family History Library has microfilm copies of:

  • Lists 1892 to 1921. (On 133 FHL films.)
  • Soundex card index for 1897 to 1952. (On 43 FHL films beginning with 1373824.)

The National Archives also has four volumes of lists of passengers who died on board ship from 1867 to 1914.

Baltimore was served by the North German Lloyd shipping line from Bremen. If you know the name of the steamship that your ancestor arrived on, you can obtain the date of arrival for the years 1904 to 1926 from the:

Mortan Allan Directory of European Passenger Steamship Arrivals. 1931. Reprint, Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1980. (FHL book Ref 973 U3m 1980; 1931 edition on fiche 6046854.)

Other Ports. The only known customs passenger lists for other Maryland ports are Annapolis, 1849 (FHL film 830231) and Havre de Grace, 1820 (FHL film 830234). Immigrants to Maryland, especially western Maryland, may have arrived in Philadelphia (see the Pennsylvania Research Outline).