Pre-1820 Emigration from Germany

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18th Century Sources for Locating German Emigrants

Before 1820  German emigration was largely a group phenomenon.  Therefore, strategies for locating a town of origin in Germany must include research on the emigrant, potential family members, neighbors, and other associates. Finding the ancestor on an incoming passenger list can be especially helpful. 

Pre-19th century German immigrants to the United States are often called Palatines, because many of them came from the Palatinate, a region in Southwest Germany. Emigrants also came from many other areas of Germany, as seen on this map .

A detailed explanation of research strategies for finding the German birthplace of early German immigrants is found here.

Manumission Records

Emigrants in much of Germany were required to pay a tax for their release from serfdom and feudal obligations. This manumission fee generally amounted to ten percent of the value of the emigrant's property. Werner Hacker indexed these records for many of the provinces of southern Germany. Among other, his publications include:

  •  Auswanderungen aus Baden und dem Breisgau (Emigration from Baden and the Breisgau), 1980 (FHL 943.46 W29h)
  •  Auswanderungen aus Rheinpfalz und Saarland im 18. Jahrhundert (Emigration from the Rhineland Palatinate and Saarland in the 18th Century), 1987 (FHL 943 W29h)
  •  Kurpfälzische Auswanderer vom Unteren Neckar (Electoral Palatinate Emigrants from the lower Neckar), 1983 (FHL 943.43 W2hw)
  •  A name index to the above three volumes as well as other volumes by Werner Hacker was published by Closson Press and includes 65,000 names, Eighteenth Century Register of Emigrants from Southwest Germany to America and Other Countries, 1994 (FHL INT'L 943.43 W2eh)

A complete list of Werner Hacker's publications available in the Family History Library in Salt Lake City is found here .