Hamburg Museum Details Emigrants’ Experience

By Diane Haddad

Between 1850 and 1939, more than 5 million Europeans left for the New World via Hamburg, Germany. They’re honored in that city’s BallinStadt Port of Dreams museum, which opened July 4.

The museum is in a reconstruction of BallinStadt, an emigration facility—amenities included living quarters, churches, a synagogue and a kosher dining hall—that served 2 million emigrants. (The original building was destroyed during World War II.) Most of those outbound passengers were Eastern Europeans.

Exhibits relate the journeys of specific emigrants. Walk up to life-size models of the passengers, and they’ll “speak” about their migration experiences.

Similar to the Ellis Island museum we enjoy stateside, BallinStadt’s main entrance hall boasts a family history center. Visitors can search genealogical databases including Hamburg emigrants. Unlike Ellis Island, though, the Hamburg emigration lists aren’t free on BallinStadt’s Web site. Instead, the site directs you to, where the records are part of the $155.40-per-year US Deluxe records collection.

The Family History Library in Salt Lake City has microfilm of the lists, called Auswandererlisten 1850-1934. You can borrow the film through your local Family History Center.

Read more about Hamburg and other ports’ emigration records in the February 2006 Family Tree Magazine.

Read these articles for more information on the BallinStadt museum: