German immigrants and immigration

Download the PDF version of German immigrants and immigration: family history info guide  (PDF 47.6 KB) 

German land boundaries have changed dramatically over the centuries. The Germany we know today covers a vastly different area to that of the German Empire in 1871, parts of which came under the jurisdiction of Austrian, Danish, French, Polish, or Russian authorities at various periods.

For Australian family historians tracing early birth, death and marriage information in the former German States, this presents particular challenges, not least of which are:

  • requesting genealogical information in a foreign language
  • tracking place name changes

State Library of Queensland holds a number of publications that can assist with these issues and German genealogy in general, including:

In-house German place names index for places in countries that are no longer part of Germany that includes original and modern names. Ask at Desk in Micrographics area on level 3.

Check One Search online catalogue for additional titles.

What online resources are available for German genealogical research?

Links to German family history resources on the Internet may be found at Cyndi's list of genealogy sites on the internet. Check the alphabetical index under ‘G’ for Germany.

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) FamilySearch provides extensive assistance. They have created a wiki for their various guides and useful information on many subjects, including Germany.

Ancestry
Use ancestry.com (Library edition), onsite only, at State Library to search for other German records that can be of use in researching family history.

How can I find shipping details for my German ancestors? 

Immigration

For information on where to find lists of assisted and unassisted immigrants arriving into Australia see Info Guides Immigration and shipping: getting started and Immigration and shipping: more than just lists

See also:

State Library holds a number of other resources on German immigration. Check our online catalogue for further titles.

Emigration

Germans were required to apply for permission to emigrate and lists of departing migrants were maintained from around 1850. They form an invaluable additional resource to complement Australian immigration records and often supply a wealth of additional details on individual migrants. Unfortunately, not all of the emigration lists have survived.

Bremen

Lists of emigrants through the port of Bremen were maintained by the Bremen Chamber of Commerce from c.1851. Storage problems led to the destruction of many of the early records between 1875 and 1908, and most of the remaining records were lost in World War II. Two ships that came to Queensland in the 1850s, the Solon and the Diana, are amongst those for which no lists exist.

The only complete lists and files of passengers departing Bremen are for the period 1946 –1974 and are held by Staatsarchiv Bremen

Bremer Passagierlisten 1920 - 1939

Lists of 637,880 passengers leaving Bremen 1920-1939 have survived and members of an organisation called DIE MAUS are progressively indexing them. Search by family name, ship name, departure date, destination port, or native place. Text in English and German.

Ship names for individual voyages link to images and further details of the vessel.

DIE MAUS will respond to e-mail enquiries addressed to kwesling@gmx.de

Hamburg 1850-1934

Hamburg emigration lists 1850-1934 are available on microfilm at LDS Family History Centers

The following indexes are available:

  • Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850-1934 - Check ancestry.com (Library edition) available, onsite only, at  State Library to search these lists. Browse handwritten indexes (in German) to find your ancestor in the original passenger lists for the years 1855-1934.

  • Index to emigrants from Hamburg to Australia 1850-1879 [electronic resource] QCFS 929.3943 2006
    Transcribed from the official Hamburg emigration records, details include original place of residence, age, occupation. Names on the lists appear in original order to reflect friends and family travelling together. Extracts from shipping intelligence columns published at ports of arrival provide additional details on each voyage.

Available in printed form and on microfiche under the title:

  • Emigrants from Hamburg to Australia / Eric & Rosemary Kopittke (FAMHIS 929.3943 1991-)
    The Library holds volumes for 1850-1879 with index volumes for 1850-59 and 1860-69. The years 1870, 1871, 1873 and 1877 and indexes for 1850-69 are also held on microfiche at FICHE/S 325.243 EMI.

Wuerttemberg

Wuerttemberg emigration index / Trudy Schenk, Ruth Froelke & Inge Bork (FAMHIS 929.34347 1986)
This is a multi-volume index of German emigrants from Wuerttemberg. The list only includes people who had approval to emigrate and mainly covers emigrants bound for America, but some Australian passengers are included.

Wuerttemberg, Germany Emigration Index - Use ancestry.com (Library edition) available, onsite only, at  State Library to search the Württemberg emigration index. Records include names of the principal emigrant, date and place of birth, date of emigration, ‘Oberamt’, destination, and the Family History Library microfilm number of the original document.

What other resources are helpful in tracing immigration details for German migrants?

Naturalisation records

To vote or hold land German migrants were required to become naturalized and records of naturalisation may include information that can help locate immigration details.

Check the Info Guide Naturalisations: a family history resource for details of the records available for each state.

Newspapers

Obituaries in local newspapers may include immigration information. Other newspaper articles covering golden wedding anniversaries or significant birthdays, e.g. 80th or 100th, may include these details.

Check One Search for newspaper titles and holdings. See also State Library Info Guide for Newspapers.

Pioneer registers/local histories

Pioneer registers are often compiled using private family papers and/or interviews with surviving family members and frequently supply immigration details not available elsewhere.

Land orders (Qld.)

As an incentive to intending migrants the Queensland Government issued a kind of voucher or ‘land order’ that could be used towards the purchase of land.

Queensland State Archives (QSA) maintains a card index to the register of land orders which may provide the immigrant’s date of arrival and/or ship’s name. The index is available for searching on the premises in QSA’s Public Search Room at 435 Compton Road, Runcorn.

See also State Library Info Guide Land records for further information.

Download the PDF version of German immigrants and immigration: family history info guide  (PDF 47.6 KB) 

Library membership

State Library of Queensland provides special library services for members who have an SLQ membership card (formerly known as an e-services card).

Library Shop online

Discover an eclectic range of books, gifts, reproduction prints and more at the Library Shop.