Tuesday, 24 May 2016

The Hamburg emigration lists

The Hamburg emigration lists
Bremen and Hamburg were the main German ports through which 19th and early 20th century emigrants left for new lives in the Americas, Africa and Australia and New Zealand. The authorities in Hamburg compiled lists of the emigrants who departed from that port and these cover the years 1850-1934 but with a gap of 1915-1919 because of World War 1. On the other hand, most equivalent lists from the port of Bremen were destroyed. Ancestry.com makes the claim that “The lists include approximately 5 million records of individuals, approximately 80% of whom were destined for the United States. Ca. 475,000 traveled to South America, ca. 214,000 to Canada, ca. 100,000 to Africa, ca. 54,000 to Australia, and ca. 10,000 to Asian countries.” http://search.ancestry.com.au/search/db.aspx?dbid=1068

Voyages from Hamburg were either direct or indirect. Direct voyages took the emigrants from Hamburg to their destination (possibly with visits to intermediate ports) whereas indirect voyages took the emigrants to another port (usually in Britain, sometimes in France, Netherlands or Belgium) where they transferred to another vessel that then took them to their destination. From 1855 to 1910, emigrants travelling directly and indirectly were recorded in separate sets of lists.

On arrival at their destination immigrants’ details were usually recorded again. Obviously differences can be expected between the departure and arrival lists because of deaths and births that occurred during the voyage. Where both lists are available it is always useful to check both.

From 1850 to 1854 emigrants were listed on separate pages depending on the first letter of their surname. The following shows a section of the page for surnames beginning with ‘D’ from the year 1851. This shows entries for voyages 59 and 60 – the Hamburg ships Florentin, Captain Lofgren to New York, and the Helene, Captain Andresen, to Port Adelaide. The entries show the information typically available for this period during which usually only the head of the family was named along with his or her occupation or station.
1851 Helen D.JPG
When transcribed, the entries are easier to read [Schlosser = locksmith or mechanic or tinker; Landm (Landmann) = rural worker; Fr (Frau) = wife; Kinder = children] :

Name d. Schiffes
(Name of Ship)
Datum d. Abgang
(Date of departure)
Davidsohn Marcus
mit Fr u. Kind
New York
Dankel Chr.
und Frau
Port Adelaide
19 Aug
Döcke Peter
Döcke Andr.
Dallwitz Joh.
mit Fr. u. 5 Kinder

From 1855 emigrants were listed by ship, probably in the order in which they arrived at the ship. Individual family members were listed separately. This example, showing some families on the Fritz Reuter, which departed Hamburg 4 Oct 1878 bound for Brisbane, illustrates the sort of information available on these lists:
1878 Fritz Reuter headings.JPG
The headings on the columns are:
Nr. (Number)
Die zu einer Familie gehörenden Personen sind unter einander zu notieren und durch eine Klammer als zusammengehörig zu bezeichnen. (The persons belonging to a family are to be recorded one under another and denoted as belonging together by a bracket.)
1. Nachname   2. Vorname  (Surname  Given name)
3. Geschlecht männlich weiblich  (Sex male female)
4. Alter (Age)
5. Bisherige Wohnort (Former residence)
6. Im Staate oder in der Provinz (In the state or province)
7. Bisherige Stand oder Beruf (Former station or occupation)
8. Ziel der Auswanderung, Ort und Land (Destination of emigration, city and country)
9. Zahl der Personen (Number of persons)
Davon sind (Of whom are)
10. Erwachsene und Kinder über 10 Jahre (adults and children over 10 years)
Kinder (Children)
11. unter 10 Jahre (under 10 years)
12. unter 1 Jahr (under 1 year)

A little further down this page are two families:
1878 Fritz Reuter.JPG

When transcribed, the entries are easier to read:
11 HANSEN Peter W. m 31 Hadersleben Schleswig Landmann
12 HANSEN Catharina f 28 Hadersleben Schleswig Frau
13 HANSEN Waldemar m 4 Hadersleben Schleswig Sohn
14 HANSEN Josephine f Hadersleben Schleswig Tochter
15 LAUSSEN Carl m 8 Hadersleben Schleswig Stiefsohn
16 ERICKSEN Martin m 24¾ Hadersleben Schleswig Landmann
17 ERICKSEN Anna f 18 Hadersleben Schleswig Frau
(Landmann = rural worker; Frau = wife; Sohn = son; Tochter = daughter; Stiefsohn = stepson.) The individual members of the Hansen and Ericksen families are listed, along with ages, former place of residence and occupation or station. Note that, unlike the situation in the 1851 list where the town column was headed “Geburtsort” (Birthplace), in the 1878 list the town column was headed “Bisherige Wohnort” (Former residence). Carl Laussen is identified as a stepson (Stiefsohn) of Peter W Hansen.

It would seem that the Hansen and Ericksen families had travelled together from Hadersleben in Schleswig (now Haderslev in Sønderjylland or South Jutland in Denmark). Having two families arriving together from the same town suggests that there could be some relationship between the two and that is an aspect that could be investigated. It is always worthwhile looking for other families and individuals from the same village or district in case some relationship exists.

Although a high proportion of the emigrants were from the German states, there were many from surrounding countries such as Switzerland, Italy, Scandinavia, Russia, and even some from Britain.

The direct lists for emigrant vessels that left Hamburg between 1850 and 1879 for ports in Australia and New Zealand have been transcribed and indexed by Eric and Rosemary Kopittke and published by Queensland Family History Society Inc. See
More generally, microfilm copies of all of the lists are available through FamilySearch and may be hired and viewed at any of their Family History Centres. See www.familysearch.org. Ancestry.com has digitised all of the lists of emigrants for 1850 - 1914 and 1920 - 1934 and there is an index covering 1850 - 1914 and 1920 - 1923. See search.ancestry.com.au/search/db.aspx?dbid=1068. Remember, however, that in any list or index, names might not be recorded with the spelling that we might expect, so if the family does not seem to be there, try searching with alternative spellings.

It can be seen that there is a wealth of information available for the researcher, especially from 1855 onwards. Because it is not uncommon to find misspellings of or errors in the names of places of origin in documents from Australia, New Zealand or the Americas, in many cases the Hamburg emigration list can be used to identify an ancestor’s birthplace.


  1. Oh how I wish for the Bremen records...perhaps that's where George Kunkel got to. I'm glad you reminded people about the microfilms, indexes are easy but the images may be more accurate.

    1. Thanks Pauleen,
      It can take a little wait to get the microfilm, and then you have to travel to view it. Fortunately you can view the image on Ancestry as well as the index.
      Yes, such a large amount of information has been lost with the destruction of the Bremen lists.

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