As of 1850, Hamburg shipping companies were obligated to maintain passenger lists for all outbound vessels carrying immigrants. These lists provide passenger names, as well as their occupations, marital status, age, arrival port, final destination and place of origin.
The lists are valuable to researchers because many of our Eastern European ancestors passed through Hamburg on their journeys to their new homes. Additionally, while some passengers took direct ships to their final destinations, others stopped at intermediary ports in the UK and elsewhere to change ships. Tracing these indirect routes may provide more clues as to where "missing" family branches might have been living.
There are some 5 million names on the passenger lists, which are complete for 1850-1934, except for the first half of 1853.
In July 2007, BallinStadt will open a family research center in Germany in addition to its online center. Online access to BallinStadt's copy of the database is free; Ancestry.com charges access fees.
Starting in December 2006, Ancestry.com will provide a complete name index of passengers who left Hamburg from 1890-1912. All remaining passenger lists (1850-1890 and 1912-1934) may be browsed by entering a date of departure as a keyword, and/or using a ship’s name.
Beginning this month, BallinStadt has also launched a new online family research service, with specially-trained genealogists. For more information on this, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. The service includes:
--Information on a particular emigrant in the Hamburg passenger lists and other sources. Reproductions will be available.
--They will provide assistance about how to access various records, archives, etc., and will also recommend other genealogists beyond Hamburg for further research.
--Genealogical information pertaining to families who resided in Hamburg, based on the resources of the Hamburg State Archives (Hamburger Staatsarchiv).
--They will transliterate original documents (such as those written in old German handwriting) and provide English translations.