Beyond History Blog

Emigration from Germany: Sources for overseas research (destination country)

Andrea Bentschneider - 20. October 2022 - Archives, Societies, Museums, Emigration, Genealogy, German-American, Germany, Historical Documents, Knowledge

Are you looking for traces of your emigrated German ancestors in their destination country? Then you are exactly right here, because after we have already presented a number of sources and contact points in Germany recently, today will write about sources for research in the respective immigration countries (destination countries).

Of course, these differ greatly according to the respective country of arrival/immigration so that we can only give an overview for some countries here.

Some of the sources are also available online through a wide variety of platforms (including paid ones). As always in genealogy, you should keep an eye on the seriousness and reliability of the source before adopting the information.



North America

  1. Arrival passenger lists

    In some countries, for example in the USA, all arriving passengers of emigrant ships were registered. Due to the variations from nation to nation, we cannot give an exact list here. However, the lists of passengers arriving in the US on ships from all over the world are collected in the National Archives in Washington, D.C. The original lists were destroyed after being backed up on microfilm.  Various databases record arriving passengers by port of arrival or nationality. The collection "Germans to America" should be mentioned here, one of the various efforts to at least partially reconstruct the Bremen passenger lists in particular on the basis of the arrival lists in the USA.

    For the Port of New York, there is also a separate database for arrivals at the immigration center at Castle Garden on the southern tip of Manhattan from 1820 until the official founding of Ellis Island in 1892.

  2. Census records

    Censuses have been taken in the United States every ten years since 1790. Lists of these censuses are also preserved at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. Other regional census lists may also be of interest for your genealogical research if, for example, they document stops of your ancestors along the way to the US. Changes of residence in the destination country and family members, occupations, etc. can also be traced through census lists if you are lucky.

  3. Obituaries

    In the USA, it is customary at the time of a person's death to list in an obituary his or her life story with the various stages, occupations, places of residence, spouses, children, and grandchildren. These were published in local newspapers and some are searchable online.

  4. Immigration museums

    The best-known example here is the Immigration Museum in New York Harbor on Ellis Island. Its Immigration Center was established in 1892. There, much can be learned about the stages of emigration, arrival in the US, and the quarantine period on the island. A database is also available at the in-house research center.  



South America

  1. Immigration organizations and societies for the study of immigrants

    The Martius-Staden Institute in Sao Paulo for the cultivation of German culture in Brazil and Latin America provides a fine example. 




  1. Newspaper articles about arriving ships

    Especially in Australia, it was often common to publish the arrival of ships, sometimes even listing the arriving passengers.

  2. Immigration museums

    A fine example of such a museum in Australia is the Immigration Museum of the State of Victoria in Melbourne.



You do not even know where to start? Of course, we will be happy to try to help you with your research abroad. Please contact us!



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