PITFALLS AND NO END TO THEM

Review of Volume 54 of Germans to America: Glazier/Filby, Ed., Wilmington, Delaware: Scholarly Resources, 1996. A Concluding Note.

(See The Palatine Immigrant, 22 (1997) 2, 80-87)

Prof. Dr. Antonius Holtmann, Carl von Ossietzky Universität Oldenburg Postfach 25 03, 26111 Oldenburg, Germany holtmann@hrzl.uni-oldenburg.de (The 1 in hrzl is numeral 1, not letter l.)

(First published in: The Palatine Immigrant 22(1997)3, 152/53)

After Volume 50, the publishers of this edition, which is needed by genealogists and social scientists, should have ended the games which they have been playing with users, beginning with the first list in Volume 1. However, they continue without a letup, presumably through the last volume. To cover the likelihood that nothing will change, a closing word must be added.
Those who go through passenger lists are generally interested in places of origin. Lists of 1887 that contain places are so few, that it is a shame to spoil them.
As an example, we have "La Bourgogne" (National Archives Microfilm Publications (NAMP) M 237, R 505, 18 April 1887, LeHavre New York; Glazier/Filby (GF) 54, 162-164.). Glazier/Filby allow all French people on this ship into "Germans to America," Fran‡ois Brumot, for example, who originates simply in "France," with no reference to Alsace-Lorraine (German from 1871-1918). On the other hand, the Dutch, Austrians and Italians (around 500) are stricken off, but not the Swiss. Joseph Scherer (Austria) falls under the table, as does Antonio Rinardi (Italian), but not Lucia Russo (Swiss). To the Swiss is given special care: from No. 554 to the end (984) all the passengers are part of the confederation. Germans and French are brought into it, Italians and Austrians are thrown out. And, from Robert Schmidt on (578) they all come from the Swiss locality, "Massachusetts," whether they want to go to New York or Cleveland, or to Illinois or California. A destination becomes a starting point for all: The Swiss Robert Schmidt, and the German, promoted from Swiss, Bernhard Kellar (with family), were the only ones that wanted to go to Massachusetts.
As an example, consider the list of the "Elbe" (NAMP, M 237, R 507, 22 June 1887, Bremen - New York; GF 54, 397f.). The old song: of 444 passengers, 253 are considered, and 115 of these lose their place of origin! Stuttgart and Aalen, Freudenthal and Landshut find grace, but not Magdeburg and Leonberg, Spandau and Freising, Pommelsbrunn and Warfleth. Whoever wants to know the origins of Carl Holzhauer and Johann Wahl, Marie Mueller and Karl Oberbucher, Johann Raab and Adolph Harre comes away from Glazier/Filby empty-handed, but not so if one goes to the microfilms. So goes it, for example, also with the "Trave," the "Raethia," and the "Werra" (R 505; GF 54, 155-159, 165-167, 118121, and with the "Suevia;" only on the microfilms can one find reliability.
The list of the "Suevia" (NAMP, M 237, R 503, 26 January 1887, Hamburg - New York; GF 54, 16 ff.) is presented in well-written script. Nevertheless, for 63 of 126 Germans who are considered (out of 289 passengers), the place of origin is taken away. Saarburg and Breslau disappear, the same for Uetersen and Visselhövede, Tübingen and Fürth. Glazier/Filby do recognize Nonnenweier, but not Pfaffenhoven: they keep Johann Frenz's place of origin, but Emanuel Bökle is sent to America from an "unknown place" (ZZZ). (The Postleitzahlen-Buch (Zip Code directory) gives 9 Pfaffenhofens, a modern spelling.)
The cities Trier, Kempen and Nürnberg are added onto the city-state of Hamburg.
Erich von Dassel-Wellersen from Einbeck becomes Erich-Weller Vondassel from an "unknown place" in Prussia.
The "Suevia" came from Hamburg, as did many other ships which are also in the 54 volumes. There is no word that, in its city archives, Hamburg has the places of origin of almost all passengers.

Germans to America is nothing more than a useable name index, not a scientifically supported, that is, not even a relatively reliable edition of passenger lists. The undertaking is a disappointment. Whoever might wish to rework the data must begin anew, starting with the year 1820.


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