Translating Hamburg Passenger List Categories

Is your German a little rusty or perhaps even non-existent, but you are using that great resource database,
the Hamburger Passagierlisten, 1850-1934?

Knowing and translating Hamburg Passenger List Categories before you search can be very helpful. Search both the departure lists in from Hamburg, as well as the arrival lists in New York or other U.S. ports. Before you decipher the German handwriting in a record your find, it helps to know what categories of information were used on the passenger list itself. (Right click or control-click on a Mac to download the image below for easier viewing.)

Translating Hamburg Passenger List Categories

Hamburg Passenger Lists (Hamburger Passagierlisten, 1850-1934 available as a searchable database at were completed in Germany by clerks for the steamship line, using information from emigrants. The Germans were thorough about completing forms, so I have found far more of the all-important information about ancestral village names and birthplaces in these emigration records than I’ve found in the corresponding New York passenger arrival lists.

Ancestry helpfully notes that since the records are in German, it helps to search in German, and only the years 1877-1914 have been indexed at this point. They also suggest browsing the Handwritten Indexes, 1855-1934, if your ancestors have not yet been included in the index.

The questions asked of departing emigrants varied over time, but generally included the following:

  1. Zuname (Surname)
  2. Vorname (Forename)
  3. Die zu einer Familie gehörenden Personen sind unter einander zu notiren und durch eine Klammer als zusammengehörig zu bezeichnen  (Group family members together and designate using brackets)
  4. Geschlect (Sex) mannlich weiblich (male female)
  5. Alter (Age)
  6. Bisheriger Wohnort (Previous place of residence)
  7. Im Staate oder in der Provinz (State or Province)
  8. Bisheriger Stand oder Beruf (Previous trade or profession)
  9. Ziel der Auswanderung, Ort und Land ist anzugeben (Destination, specify place and country)
  10. Zahl der Personen (Number of people)
  11. Davon sind (Of these):Erwachsene und Kinder über 10 Jahre (Adults and children over 10 years)Kinder unter 10 Jahre (Children under 10 years)Kinder unter 1 Jahre (Children under 1 year)

Knowing and translating Hamburg Passenger List categories helps you get more from this resource.

About the Author:

Nancy Loe has an MA in American History and an MLS in Library Science and Archives. She has appeared on PBS’s American Experience, at Rootstech, SCGS Jamboree, and state and regional genealogy conferences. Her website was featured in Family Tree Magazine's “Social Media Mavericks: 40 to Follow.”

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