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Published Passenger Lists:
A Review of German
Germans to America, Volumes 1-9 (1850-1855)
Michael P. Palmer
Lacunae in Germans to America, 1: Records of Miscellaneous Ports.
Perhaps the most apparent feature of Table 3 is the fact it lists
only ships arriving at the five major ports of entry (Baltimore,
Boston, New Orleans, New York, and Philadelphia): ships arriving at
Galveston and other ports are omitted. In 1789, Congress
established customs collection districts in more than 100 coastal,
river, Great Lakes, and inland ports
records survive in some degree for approximately three-fourths of
these ports, including Galveston, which as Table 2 indicates, was
by 1850 a far more important port of entry for Germans than either
Boston or Philadelphia. The National Archives have microfilmed
these records [note 18],
but have not transferred the "originals"
to the Balch Institute Center for Immigration Research. Although
they are not deposited in the Balch Institute, and although both
the forward and the introduction to each volume of GTA clearly
state that this work contains only those records deposited in the
Institute, the editors should nevertheless have included the
records of these miscellaneous ports in GTA. Few researchers are
aware that the records of the miscellaneous ports remain in the
National Archives; neither the forward nor the introduction to GTA
indicates that any other Customs Passenger Lists exist outside
those held by the Institute; and its title and size, as well as the
publicity surrounding it, imply that GTA is "complete". The number
of German immigrants these records contain is not large: Table 2
indicates that between 1850 and 1855 a total of only 1,646 Germans
entered the United States through all miscellaneous ports,
excluding Galveston; of the 10 miscellaneous ports through which
these 1,646 Germans entered the United States, records survive only
for Edgartown, Massachusetts (68 immigrants), Mobile, Alabama (14
immigrants), and Passamaquoddy, Maine (four immigrants)
Table 2 lists 11,823 Germans arriving at Galveston between 1850 and
1855, but most records for this port are believed to have been
destroyed by a hurricane in 1907, and only the reports for this
period that survive are those for the first, second, and fourth
quarters of 1850, and the first and third quarters of 1852; these
represent a total of 1,085 people
[note 20]. To transcribe those
surviving ship manifests that contain German names would
consequently not have involved an excessive amount of work, and
extending the coverage of GTA to include all ports of entry would
certainly have justified the additional labor.
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.
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