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From Hamburg to Amerika
Trace Your Roots with Hamburg's Shipping Records

It's a huge project! Over the last several years Das Hamburger Staatsarchiv (The Hamburg State Archive) has been in the process of putting its massive compilation of ship passenger lists (Passagierlisten) online. Due to the sheer volume of names, it will take at least four years to make all of the data available on the Internet. The massive archive of the port of Hamburg consists of 555 volumes meticulously compiled by the shipping lines (Reedereien) that transported German and other emigrants (Auswanderer) from Hamburg to the New World (die Neue Welt) between 1850 and 1934. During those 85 years more than five million people left Europe for good, seeking a new life in North America. To the delight of genealogical researchers, almost every one of them was listed by name, date of birth and date of departure — something unique to Hamburg.

The Hamburg project bears the English title Link to Your Roots and is designed to help the many descendents (Nachfahren) of those emigrants to find their European origins. Work to digitize the records began in 1999 and the first Internet records appeared in 2000. The project's online databank is still growing and as of January 2004 you could search data for the years from 1890 to 1902.

The Hamburg online service is free for a limited name search. To support the ongoing project, the Staatsarchiv charges from $20 to $50, depending on the number of names, for a detailed report on a name. You can pay with a credit card. See the archive Web site for current information.

If you are unable to find your ancestors at "Link to Your Roots" right now, you may want to try the Web exhibit at Hamburg Emigration Port. This site examines the history of the years of emigration from the port of Hamburg (Hamburger Hafen). What moved these people to leave Europe? What were their hopes for the future? What was their new life in America like? Although this site does not go into great detail, it gives a taste of what the emigrants must have gone through.

An authentic account of one emigrant's journey — from Bremen to New Orleans — is found in the Tagebuch eines Auswanderers by one Heinrich Justus Francke (1826-1878). This German Web site by Christoph Berndt displays the diary written by Berndt's great grandfather. The first entry reads: "9. Dezember 1846. Endlich muß ich mit dem Tagebuche, welches ich Eurem Wunsche gemäß während meiner Reise von Bremen nach New Orleans zu führen mir vorgenommen hatte, wohl mal den Anfang machen. Jetzt, nachdem die Seekrankheit überstanden, nachdem der Kanal passiert und also die größten Gefahren meiner Reise hinter mir sind, erfülle ich denn auch mit Freude Euren Wunsch, Euch meine Erlebnisse, oder vielmehr die Art, wie ich sie erlebe, nach besten Kräften zu schildern..."

The diary is available in German only. If your German is not yet at the level required to read it, you may wish to try our translation page by pasting in selected text. (But don't expect more than a rough English approximation of the German. Computer translation — even costly software — is still in its infancy, in den Kinderschuhen.)

To explore Germanic genealogy in more detail, see the Web and Guide links below.


Related Resources/Links

Germanic Genealogy - Contents/Inhalt
Our genealogy starting page. Lists all the articles, glossaries and link pages for tracing your Germanic roots.

Germanic Genealogy
More genealogical links in German and English. From your Guide.

Hamburg Emigration Port - Deutsch
An online exhibit about emigration from the port of Hamburg.

Hamburg Emigration Port - English
An online exhibit about emigration from the port of Hamburg.

Hamburg Staatsarchiv
The homepage of the Hamburg State Archive.

Link to Your Roots - Deutsch
Online Hamburg passenger list archive for 1890-1902. Ultimately will cover 1850-1934.

Link to Your Roots - English
Online Hamburg passenger list archive for 1890-1902. Ultimately will cover 1850-1934.

Tagebuch eines Auswanderers
A diary by Heinrich Justus Francke (1826-1878). Christoph Berndt's Web site features a true account of his great grandfather's 1846-47 journey from Bremen to New Orleans. In German.


From Your Guide

German and Genealogy
An article for genealogical beginners with tips for finding your Germanic roots.

German First Names
Part One of a three-part article on German names, from your Guide.

German Genealogy Glossary
A useful guide to genealogical terms in English and German. From your Guide.

German Surnames
Part Two of a three-part article on German names, from your Guide.

Translate A Text
Our special page allows you to translate from German to English, English to German, or in several other language combinations.

What's in a Name? - Ludwig
Part One of a series on names. Ludwig (Louis) is one of those Germanic names that have fallen out of favor, but it has a long and interesting history.


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