Translating Hamburg Passenger List Categories

Is your German a little rusty or perhaps even non-existent? Do you need
help translating Hamburg Passenger List categories?

This post helps you decipher the categories of information that were recorded on the Hamburger Passagierlisten, 1850-1934 list database at Ancestry is a goldmine for European migration research.

Hamburger Passagierlisten, 1850-1934 is searchable database at These lists were completed by clerks for Hamburg-based steamship lines. Using information from emigrants before the ships left for the U.S., the Hamburg passengerlists contain more specific information about places of residence before emigration than I’ve found in the corresponding New York passenger arrival lists.

Search both the departure lists from Hamburg, as well as the arrival lists in New York or other U.S. ports.

Translating Hamburg Passenger List Categories

Before you decipher the German handwriting in a record you find, it helps to know what categories of information were used on the passenger list itself. 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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