1683--First permanent German settlement in U.S. is founded at Germantown, PA.
1683-1820--Emigration from Germany during this period is caused mainly by religious persecution & economic hardship. Emigration includes a large number of Protestants from the Palatinate (southwest Germany).
1700-1800--Many German Protestants settle in Pennsylvania, New York, and Virginia. German Catholics begin arriving in Maryland. Approximately 200,000 Germans emigrate to U.S. during this period, and 70,000 of them settle in PA.
1708-1710--Most intense winter in memory begins in Germany in October 1708 and continues until April 1709. The intense cold destroys fruit trees and vineyards. Many Germans leave southwest Germany for London. British government originally encourages settlement of German Protestants in Ireland, but later encourages their settlement in America. Groups of German settlers leave England in 1710 bound for the Carolinas and New York.
1775-1783--Large numbers of Hessians (German soldiers hired out by their monarchs
to the King of Great Britain) serve in the British Army during the American Revolution. At least 12,000 desert and remain behind in America and Canada.
1789-1800--French Revolution rocks Europe; various European wars occur during this time period.
1803-1815--Napoleonic wars; France more or less constantly at war with one or more
other European powers, including Prussia & Austria.
1821-1871--Emigration from Germany during this time period is caused mainly by economic hardship and war. Emigration includes large numbers of persons from Alsace-Lorraine, Baden, Hessen, Rheinland, and Wurttemberg (southeast Germany).
1848--Revolutions in Europe begin. Various German principalities rebel, although rebellion is probably most widespread in Baden.
1849--After the revolutions fail, revolutionaries flee to Zurich, London, and America.
1850--Hamburg passenger lists begin. Hamburg and Bremen become popular places to emigrate from because city fathers realize that money can be made feeding and housing emigrants while they wait to sail, and by making them pay a tax to emigrate. Bremen is more popular, because it has a reputation for treating emigrants better than does Hamburg.
1851--The advent of the steamship in the 1850s cuts trans-Atlantic travel time from 43 days (sailing ship) to 13 days.
1854--250,000 Germans arrive at U.S. ports.
1862-1865--Germans who serve in the Union Army can become American citizens after
1 year of residency in the U.S. States like Pennsylvania and New York actively recruit Army volunteers in Germany, paying their passage and enlistment bounties.
1866--Prussia defeats Austria in Seven Weeks’ War.
1870-1871--Many men flee Germany to avoid serving in the Franco-Prussian War.
German Empire founded in 1871.
1871-1914--Emigration to the U.S. becomes more common from all parts of Germany.
1880--200,000 Germans arrive at U.S. ports.
1890--Large German-born populations are living in NY, PA, OH, IL, MN, WI, and
MO. 70,000 German-born persons are living in Deep South, including 15,000 in
New Orleans. More German citizens are living in New York City than live in
1920--Between 1820 and 1920, more than 5,500,000 Germans emigrate to U.S., more than any other nationality including the Irish (4,400,000).
1944--Nearly all existing Bremen passenger lists are destroyed during Allied bombing
raid on October 6, 1944. All that remains are some records for 1907 and 1913-1914.
1978--A study shows that nearly 7,000,000 Germans settled in U.S. between 1820 and 1977.
The following books are available in the Genealogy Room at St. Louis Public Library (Central Library, 3rd Floor). This list includes just a few of the books, microfilm sets, and reference databases in our collection that can be of use to the person researching German ancestors. We can check books/microfilm sets that are indexed (or arranged in alphabetical order by surname) for you; just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Colletta, John P. They Came in Ships: A Guide to Finding Your Immigrant Ancestor's Arrival Record. Orem, Utah: Ancestry, 2002. [Genealogy Room—929.1]
Glazier, Ira A, and P W. Filby. Germans to America: Lists of Passengers Arriving at U.S. Ports. 67 vols. Wilmington, Del: Scholarly Resources, 1988. [Genealogy Room—929.308931]
Glazier, Ira A. Germans to America: Series II. 7 vols. Wilmington, Del: Scholarly Resources, 2002. [Genealogy Room—929.308931]
Hansen, Claus B. Passenger Liners from Germany, 1816-1990. West Chester, Pa: Schiffer Pub, 1991. [Stacks-Oversize—387.2432]
Smith, Clifford N. From Bremen to America in 1850: Fourteen Rare Emigrant Ship Lists. Baltimore, Md: Reprinted for Clearfield Co. by Genealogical Pub. Co, 1987. [Genealogy Room—929.343]
Smith, Clifford N. Reconstructed Passenger Lists for 1850: Hamburg to Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, and the United States. McNeal, Ariz: Westland Publications, 1980. [Genealogy Room—929.343]
Smith, Clifford N. Reconstructed Passenger Lists for 1851 Via Hamburg: Emigrants from Germany, Austria, Bohemia, Hungary, Poland, Russia, Scandinavia, and Switzerland to Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, the United States, and Venezuela. McNeal, Ariz: Westland Publications, 1986. [Genealogy Room—929.343]
Strassburger, Ralph B, and William J. Hinke. Pennsylvania German Pioneers: A Publication of the Original Lists of Arrivals in the Port of Philadelphia from 1727 to 1808. Baltimore: Genealogical Pub. Co, 1966. [Genealogy Room—929.343]
Yoder, Don. Pennsylvania German Immigrants, 1709-1786: Lists Consolidated from Yearbooks of the Pennsylvania German Folklore Society. Baltimore: Genealogical Pub. Co, 1980. [Genealogy Room—929.3748]
Zimmerman, Gary J, and Marion Wolfert. German Immigrants: Lists of Passengers Bound from Bremen to New York [dates], with Places of Origin. Baltimore: Genealogical Pub. Co, 1985. [Genealogy Room—929.343]