Table of contents:
The annual reports of the Secretary of State indicate that approximately 724,930 German nationals (as distinct from ethnic Germans from Switzerland, France, or the Austrian Empire) entered in the United States between 1850 and 1855. The nine volumes of GTA contain transcripts of 2,714 ship lists, representing approximately 629,283 names, for the period 1850-1855. Of these 2,714 lists, three are duplicates, and 16 contain no German surnames [note 13]; taking these corrections into account, GTA contains transcripts of the passenger manifests of 2,695 ships, representing approximately 628,586 names.
To make available well over half a million names is a monumental undertaking, and GTA is assured a place as an indispensable work for anyone researching German immigration to the United States between the years 1850 and 1855. Nevertheless, when compared with the official returns of 725,002 names, the 628,586 names printed in GTA represent a shortfall of some 96,344 people, or about 13.29 percent. Table 1 compares the number of German immigrants as reported annually by the Secretary of State to the number of names published in GTA [note 14].
|GERMAN IMMIGRANTS TO AMERICA, 1851-1855|
|Year||Official||GTA||% in GTA|
In fact, the shortfall is greater than these figures suggest, since not all the people listed in GTA are German nationals: the published passenger manifests for ships arriving in 1852 from Havre indicate some 5,640 Swiss immigrants [note 15], virtually all of them ethnic Germans, as well as a number "Austrians", the majority of whom appear to be ethnic Germans from Bohemia. Of equal importance is the fact that many of the people listed in GTA are not ethnic Germans. The published passenger manifests for ships arriving in 1852 from Havre list some 6,445 French immigrants, less than one third of whom appear to be ethnic Germans, and even some Italians. The published passenger manifests for ships arriving in 1852 from Liverpool and London list an additional 7,995 non-German immigrants, the overwhelming majority of them Irish.
It would be impractical without access to the original computer database even to attempt to determine precisely the number of non-German surnames and non-German nationals listed in GTA. However, extensive daily use of the series over several months suggests that this number comprises at least 10 percent of the total, and that a minimum of 62,850 names should therefore be added to the shortfall. In short, a "rough and ready" estimate is that GTA contains the names of approximately 75 percent of the German nationals arriving by passenger ship at American ports between 1850 and 1855. A shortfall of 25 percent of a base population of 725,000 is quite substantial, especially to a genealogist, who is concerned with individuals--indeed, with only one, particular individual. A look at some of the causes of this shortfall is consequently not out of place.
|OFFICIAL RETURNS OF GERMAN IMMIGRANTS TO THE UNITED STATES, 1850-1855|
Table 2 lists the number of German immigrants arriving in the United States between 1 January 1850 and 31 December 1855, arranged by quarter and by port of entry. These figures are derived from the quarterly reports of the district customs collectors and should be considered approximate rather than precise: they represent the minimum number of German immigrants arriving at United States ports of entry and, in addition, do not include those arriving overland from Canada and Mexico. In addition, the customs collector for New Orleans failed to file a report with the Secretary of State for the fourth quarter of 1852, and the figure given (12,300) is an estimate based on a survey of the ships arriving at that port between 1 October and 31 December 1852. It is important to note that the report for a particular quarter may not include records of all ships arriving in that quarter: particularly in busy ports, such as New York and New Orleans, there was a great chance that records were not filed in absolute chronological order, with the result that records for ships arriving at the very beginning of a quarter might be included in the report for the preceding quarter, while records for ships arriving at the very end of a quarter might find their way into the report for the following quarter. (As an aside, it is important to recognize that the date on the ship passenger manifest is not properly the date of arrival but the date the list was signed and presented to the customs collector. Although these dates often coincided, they just as often did not [note 16]. For example, the customs collector at the port of New York did not work on Sundays, and consequently, although the various New York newspapers list ships arriving every day of the week, no New York passenger manifest for the period 1850-1855 bears a Sunday date.) Also worth noting is the importance of Galveston as a port of entry for German immigrants. Although the customs collector there failed to file quarterly reports for the third quarter of 1850, the first three quarters of 1851, and the third quarter of 1853, the reports for the remaining quarters for the years 1850 through 1855 indicate that the number of German immigrants entering through Galveston during that period was greater than the total number entering through both Boston and Philadelphia.
Table 3 gives the numbers of ship passenger manifests published in GTA for the period 1850-1855, also arranged by quarter and port of entry. Although this table assigns each list to a particular quarter by its date, it is important to note, as indicated above, that statistics for passengers on ships whose manifests date from the very beginning of a quarter may be counted in Table 2 among the statistics for the preceding quarter, while statistics for passengers on ships whose manifests date from the very end of a quarter may be counted in Table 2 among the statistics for the following quarter.
|SHIP LISTS PUBLISHED IN GTA, 1850-1855|
This article is copyright © 1990 Michael P. Palmer, but may be republished, in whole, or in part, with proper attribution.
An earlier version of this article was published in German Genealogical Society of America Bulletin, vol. 4, No. 3/4 (May/August 1990), 69, 71-90.
To Top of Document
Kommentare zu dieser Webseite bitte an Webmaster
Comments and suggestions regarding this page should be sent to Webmaster.
Juristisches / Disclaimer