11. May 2020, Emigration, General, German-American, Germany, Hamburg, History, Knowledge, Personalities
The immigration station on Ellis Island, New York, picture taken around 1896, source: unknown photographer, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ellis_Island_First_Bldg_Burnt_15-June-1897.jpg).
Departing from the German emigration ports Hamburg and Bremen resp. Bremerhaven, the majority of emigrants had in mind to reach North America. A significantly smaller number departed to Brazil, Australia, Argentina, Chile and various other countries.
Emigration from Germany: Arrival in a new world – entering and arriving are two very different things
01. May 2020, Emigration, General, German-American, Germany, Historical Events, Knowledge, Personalities
Photograph of August Spies from 1886. He is called a murderer on it.Source: unknown photographer, Public domain [PD-US-expired] via Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:August-Spies-1886.jpg).
Every year on 01, May International Workers’ Day (or Labor Day) is celebrated in many countries in different ways. However, where does this tradition come from, why was a German-American in Chicago, Illinois (by the way a sister city of Hamburg) at least partly responsible for the introduction of this day and if this is so: Why does the US of all countries celebrate Labor Day on another day?
International Workers’ Day and the role of a German immigrant
24. April 2020, Emigration, German-American, General, Germany, Hamburg, History, Knowledge
The passenger deck of the emigration ship “Samuel Hop“ on the journey via Rotterdam and Le Havre to the US in 1849, drawing by Leo von Elliot in “Leipziger Illustrierte Zeitung” from 10 November 1849, page 292, source: Bundesarchiv, Bild 137-041316 / Unknown / CC-BY-SA 3.0 [CC BY-SA 3.0 de (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bundesarchiv_Bild_137-041316,_Auswandererschiff_%22Samuel_Hop%22.jpg).
Going on a journey can become adventurous! When talking about ship passengers of the third class and passengers in the times when a doctor was not necessarily on board, this can be taken literally. The conditions of travel were far from comfortable and safe. But let’s take one thing at a time; no one has gone on board yet.
Emigration from Germany: Going on a journey - costs, means of transport, and conditions of travel
11. April 2020, Emigration, General, German-American, Germany, Historical Events, History, Knowledge
Mount Tambora’s eruption in 1815 resulted in massive famines in the subsequent years forcing large numbers of the suffering German population to emigrate. Source: Jialiang Gao (peace-on-earth.org) / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0), via Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Caldera_Mt_Tambora_Sumbawa_Indonesia.jpg).
Globalization is one of these words that have been on everyone’s lips for the past years. Currently the worldwide spread of the Corona virus illuminates once again the global interlacing between countries due to trade and tourism, or any other kind of traffic and its consequences.
That the whole world is linked and that events on the other side of the globe can have effects on other parts of the world is, however, nothing new.
Emigration from Germany: Ranging the fields – reasons for emigration and formal requirements to meet before leaving the country
04. April 2020, Emigration, Family, Genealogy, Germany, General, Historical Documents, Historical Events, Knowledge
Advertisement for the emigration to America, source: United States Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division in Washington, D.C., LC-DIG-pga-13282, Auswanderung nach Amerika. Amerika und seine Freuden. Public domain, via Library of Congress (https://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2003691148/).
Those who engage in genealogical research will probably sooner or later discover that family members packed up and emigrated. Emigrants left Germany for overseas mostly from the cities Hamburg or Bremen. North and South America and Australia were common destinations. However, it was not unusual either to travel eastwards, all across the continent to reach Bessarabia (Southern Russia) for example.
Emigration from Germany
02. September 2018, Emigration, General, German-American, Germany, Historical Events, History, Knowledge, Personalities
Colonel Friedrich Hecker, unknown author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Colonel_Friedrich_Hecker.png).
Friedrich Hecker was one of the faces of the German revolutions of 1848-1849. Like many of his companions he emigrated after the failing of the revolution or single uprisings. On 20 September 1848, he boarded a ship to New York in Le Havre and became a farmer in Illinois. Later, He fought in the American Civil War.
Friedrich Hecker, „Forty-Eighter“
31. October 2017, Emigration, Genealogy, General, Germany, Historical Events, Knowledge
Detail of a church window in the War Memorial Chapel at the Washington National Cathedral in Washington D.C. Martin Luther nails his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg. Picture by Tim Evanson [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Clerestory_window_12_-_War_Memorial_Chapel_-_National_Cathedral_-_DC.JPG)
On 31 October 1517 Martin Luther is supposed to have nailed his 95 theses against the sale of indulgences to the door of the church in Wittenberg. Today it is debatable, if this really happened, but for many the date still stands for the beginning of the reformation. It is celebrated as Reformation Day in Germany and Austria.
Religious refugees during reformation
25. August 2017, Emigration, General, German-American, Historical Events, Knowledge, Personalities
Neil Armstrong working on the moon near lunar module Eagle, 20 July 1969. Picture by NASA / Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:As11-40-5886,_uncropped.jpg)
The first man on the moon, a German? No, of course not. But Neil Alden Armstrong had indeed German ancestors.
He was born on 5 August 1930 in Ohio and died in the same state on 25 August 2012 when he was 82 years old. Inbetween Neil Armstron made history with one step on 20 July 1969 (American time). It is not surprising that Armstrong, sometimes compared to Columbus, descended from immigrants as most Americans do. His ancestors had the courage to take steps on unfamiliar ground. To start all over in a new country was certainly not an easy thing to do. Especially as keeping in touch with the people that stayed behind wasn’t as simple as today.
A small step for [a] man – From Germany to the moon
31. July 2017, Emigration, General, German-American, Hamburg, History, Knowledge
Chicago Skyline at sunrise (2009), Photo by Daniel Schwen (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Chicago_sunrise_1.jpg)
Since July 1994, to be precise since 20 July 1994, Chicago is Hamburg’s twin city. After the first initiative was made in 1957, the idea was readopted in the 1990s.
There are good reasons for being sister cities. Both are characterized by their waterside location (at Lake Michigan and the Elbe), despite at the same time being located at the inland. They are both economical as well as cultural centers and there are furthermore historical parallels and connections. Just to mention it briefly, both cities were affected by great fires (Hamburg in 1842, Chicago in 1871) that changed their appearances permanently. But most of all, both cities played an important role in the migration from Germany to America in the 19th century: Hamburg as an emigration harbor, Chicago as a place of refuge for immigrants.
Hamburg’s sister city Chicago
23. May 2017, General, German-American, Germany, Knowledge, Personalities, Emigration
02. May 2017, Emigration, General, German-American, History, Knowledge, Personalities
American and Czech Budweiser, Photo: Dorisall at English Wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ABud_and_Budvar.jpg)
Without question Anheuser-Busch is one of the best known breweries worldwide. Today the American company is part of the international corporation Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABInBev), just like the German beer brands Beck’s, Franziskaner, Hasseröder, Diebels or Löwenbräu. The brewery originated in the 1850s in St. Louis (Missouri). It was acquired by Eberhard Anheuser and a partner in 1860. Anheuser died 20 years later, on 2 May 1880 in St. Louis.
Germans and their beer – Part 3
28. April 2017, Emigration, General, German-American, History, Knowledge, Personalities, Professions
Frederick Pabst, Picture by S.L. Stein (The Pabst Mansion) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Frederick_Pabst_by_SL_Stein.jpg)
No more than Germans invented beer they were the first to brew it in the USA. Breweries are documented from the 17th century at the latest. Until the middle of the 19th century they mostly produced British-style ale. This changed with enhanced immigration from Germany and the associated higher demand for lighter lager. This was met by German brewers from about mid-century. Until the end of the 19th century lager had become the predominant beer in the USA. And especially German-American brewers like Busch, Pabst or Schlitz had made themselves known.
Germans and their beer – Part 2
23. April 2017, Anniversary, Emigration, General, Germany, Hamburg, Knowledge
Various beer types. By Personal Creations (www.personalcreations.com) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ABeer_in_glasses_and_steins.jpg)
The favorite beverage of the Germans? Beer! At least that’s the cliché. There of course is reason to that. One is certainly the “Reinheitsgebot” (German beer purity law) that supports the good reputation of German beer. It was passed on 23 April 1516, therefore every year at that day, German Beer Day is celebrated. The beer purity law is the oldest food law in the world. It states that German beer can only be made of water, hops and barley. The role of yeast that influences fermentation wasn’t understood at the time. Today adding yeast allows a constant quality of the beer. Prior to the German beer purity law, many things were mixed into the beer to for example add a special flavor, heighten the intoxicating effect or to make beer drinkable again that had turned sour. The first verifiable predecessors to this law can be found in 1156 in Augsburg.
Germans and their beer – Part 1
11. April 2017, Emigration, German-American, Germany, Historical Events, Literature, Personalities, WWII
United States Army portrait of Kurt Vonnegut Jr., by United States Army [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AKurt-Vonnegut-US-Army-portrait.jpg)
On 11 April 2007, author Kurt Vonnegut died in New York. Born on 11 November 1922 as the youngest of three siblings in Indianapolis, Vonnegut was a fourth-generation German-American. Both of his parents, his father Kurt Vonnegut Sr. and his mother Edith Lieber, descended from German emigrants, that arrived in America in the 19th century.
Kurt Vonnegut and Germany
15. February 2017, Birthdays, Emigration, German-American, Hamburg, Personalities, General
Heinrich Engelhard Steinweg/Henry E. Steinway https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ASteinway_factory_Schanzenstrasse_Hamburg_Germany.jpg
On 15 February 1797, Heinrich Engelhard Steinweg was born in Wolfshagen/Harz in Northern Germany. Can you guess? Later known as Henry E. Steinway, the founder of one of the leading piano manufacturers of the world, Steinway and Sons, was a German emigrant.
To build the best piano possible
06. June 2016, Emigration, Genealogy, German-American, Hamburg
For every genealogist the Ballinstadt Emigration Museum is one of the where to go addresses in Hamburg. On the spot where ship owner Albert Ballin once built “Emigrants’ Halls” for those leaving the country in which they could wait for their departure, “BallinStadt” was erected in 2007.
Reopening of the „BallinStadt“
26. January 2016, Emigration, Genealogy, General
Passenger lists from the 19th and 20th century are important sources for genealogical research because they make the paths of emigrants across the sea and to foreign countries traceable.
Most of the ships we come across during our research have an emotional story. So does a Hamburg ship for emigrants called “Cimbria” the story of which is as tragic as it is legendary.
The Gold Ship
27. October 2015, Emigration, Family, General, German-American, Personalities
When an American, John Brinkmann, contacted us a while back, we had the opportunity to look at a very exceptional family history. You see, John Brinkmann Sr., his father, was director of photography at NASA and as such was responsible for bringing us all of the spectacular pictures from the Gemini and Apollo space programs, in particular the first photos from the surface of the moon in 1969 - photos that went around the globe then and still do (and you are probably visualizing them while you are reading this). John recalled to us how his father shared these photos with the family around the morning breakfast table, before they had been revealed to the press. The collectively shared memory of history that manifests itself in these images stands in contrast to each individual life and its often unclear ancestral past. Now, with his father advancing in years, John wanted to help reconnect his father with his forefathers roots in Germany.
From Warburg to the Moon – a special family history
28. July 2015, Emigration, Family, Genealogy, General
It was one of these cases that seem almost impossible to solve. For the research of the German ancestor of our US-American client we had close to nothing to start with: A name that did not sound German at all, the fact that he immigrated from Germany and a possible time frame of 10 years of his possible birth. An unrelated person of the same name that had lived close to ‘our’ German emigrant and came from the area of Oldenburg allowed the presumption that he, too, could have come from there.
The needle in the haystack or a genealogy miracle
17. July 2015, Emigration, Family, General, Photos
At home in the United States our client’s father was a successful engineer and business man. To honor him, his children planned an exhibition about his life, his successes and his origin. His family came to the US from Germany in the late 19th century.
A Photograph from a Flea Market
07. July 2015, Emigration, Family, Genealogy, General, Historical Events
It seems there are endless reality shows on German TV these days that follow German emigrants on their way to their new homes all around the world. The families sharing their hopes, dreams, and problems in front of the camera always make me think of the emigrant ancestors we researched so far. One of the favorite emigration destinations for Germans is and was Australia. Today, people go there for the friendly people, nature, beaches, and the sun. That sure was different back in the days…
Germans Down Under
17. June 2015, Emigration, Genealogy, General
Some days, we put our heads together and puzzle over a document. Is that an H? Is it an S? What kind of occupation could this be? The reason for this is not our defective sight but the old German handwritings that we decrypt daily in records, church book entries and so on. After many years of experience, there is a certain routine in doing so – but even after a thousand records a bad copy, smudgy ink or just the particularly scrawly handwriting of a registrar from 200 years ago can bring us to verge of despair.