Jewish Emigration and Immigration

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Jewish Genealogy Research
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Emma Lazarus, a descendant of Portuguese Sephardic Jews, wrote the poem about the Statue of Liberty including these words, ". . . Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Online Records[edit | edit source]

Introduction[edit | edit source]

Emigration and immigration sources list the names of people leaving (emigration) or coming into (immigration) a country. Because Jews emigrated at various time periods throughout the centuries and went to many different countries, the records that were kept vary from time period to time period and place to place. Records prior to the 18th century, if they exist at all, are generally less detailed.

Most emigration and immigration records of the 19th century and later consist of passenger lists, permissions to emigrate, records of passports issued, lists of people deported, and alien registers. Information found in these later emigration and immigration records usually include the name, age or birth date, occupation, destination, and place of origin or birthplace of the emigrant.

Research Strategy[edit | edit source]

Perhaps the greatest genealogical value of these records is information about where your ancestor came from. In order to successfully research your ancestry, you have to determine exactly where the immigrant ancestor was born or lived and search the records of that place. For detailed information about how to trace an immigrant ancestor, including a description of various emigration and immigration records, see United States Emigration and Immigration Wiki pages and the "Emigration and Immigration" page of the state and country Wiki pages where your ancestors lived, for example the New York Emigration and Immigration page, or the United States Emigration and Immigration page.

These records can also help in constructing family groups. If you do not find your ancestor’s name, you may find information on your ancestor’s family members or neighbors. People who lived near each other in their country of origin often settled together after they emigrated.

Types of Records[edit | edit source]

Depending on the country and the record source, emigration and immigration records may list the name of the ship of arrival or the name of the person to whom the immigrant is going (often a relative or friend from the previous place of residence). Many of these records are indexed.

Most countries made records of passengers who arrived in their country. These were generally kept by port authorities. Jews are included in these records along with all other immigrants. The records of arrivals at New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Boston, New Orleans, and other U.S. and Canadian ports are excellent sources of information about immigrants to these countries.

Records of departure are of equal or even greater genealogical value as they are even more likely to provide your ancestor’s place of origin. The major European ports Jews emigrated from were Bremen, Hamburg, Liverpool, and LeHavre. Many Jews also sailed from Odessa in Russia.

Most of the records of Bremen and Liverpool have been lost.

More information:

  • For links to various links to passenger lists of ships arriving at United States ports from Europe see: GermanRoots.
  • For lists of passengers arriving at U.S. ports in the 1840s: FHL call no. 973 W2ger.
  • For information about Hamburg passengers between 1855 and 1873: FHL call no. 943.8 W2m

Hamburg Passenger Lists[edit | edit source]

The passenger lists of the port of Hamburg are preserved and accessible. Online databases:

Another good card index to these records from 1850–1871 is:

  • Index von Karl Werner Klüber zu den Passagierlisten der Auswandererschiffe 1850–1871 (Index by Karl Werner Klüber to the Passenger Lists of Emigration Ships 1850– 1871). Hamburg: Staatarchiv, 1994. (On 48 FHL films beginning with number 1961710.)

An alphabetical listing of emigrant Jews who returned to Hamburg from 1905–1907 and Jewish orphans from Russia in 1906 are also among the Hamburg passenger lists (FHL film 1732431, items 6, 11). There is also a listing of Jews who sailed from Bremen from 1 November 1913 to 31 Dec 1914 (FHL film 1568852 item 2 and 1568871).

See Hamburg Passenger Lists for more information.

Rotterdam Departure Lists[edit | edit source]

The Holland-America Line transported refugees from war-torn Europe to the United States prior to 1941. The ships left from Rotterdam, Netherlands. Passenger lists are available from 1900 to 1974.

Other Records[edit | edit source]

In addition to the sources discussed in these publications, other emigration and immigration sources, which may or may not be at the Family History Library, are:

  • Records of the Russian Consular Offices in the United States, containing information about people from Eastern Europe, mostly Jews, who came to the United States during the latter half of the 19th century and early part of the 20th century.
  • Locally kept 20th century alien registers of England.
  • Copenhagen, Denmark, Police Records of Emigrants, consisting of 90 ledger books that list details about people leaving Denmark from 1868 to 1940.
  • Records of the Poor Jews’ Temporary Shelter in England.

Information contained in these records includes the name of the person who was sheltered, date of arrival, age, marital status, number of children accompanying the person, place from which the person came to the shelter, occupation, port of entry into England, length of stay at the shelter, date leaving the United Kingdom, where the person was going, and the name of the ship on which the person sailed. A searchable database that lists information about Jews who stayed at the shelter between 1895 and 1914 on their way to South Africa is found at:

Some emigration and immigration sources are on the Internet. The Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild is one web site that lists details from ships’ passenger lists and can be found at:

There are also searchable databases of limited emigration and immigration sources, such as United State Department of State Consulate records for Jerusalem, Jaffa, and Haifa and lists of Germans, Swiss, and Austrians deported from France. Check the following websites for these records:

Unique to Jews are records kept by Hebrew Immigrant Aid Societies and other Jewish associations in the United States. See "Societies" in this outline for further information about the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Societies.

The library has many emigration and immigration records, including some records of the Hebrew Immigration Aid Society. Check for these records in the FamilySearch Catalog.