Summary of Our Recent November 9, 2010 Genealogy Program with Patricia Reaves on the Topic of Bremen and Hamburg Passenger Lists

Hi Everyone,

Here is a summary of our most recent Genealogy Program at the Schaumburg Township District Library on Tuesday evening, November 9, 2010.  Our guest speaker for the evening was Patricia Reaves.  She presented a program titled “How to Read and Understand the Hamburg and Bremen Passenger Lists”.

One Of Our Early Arrivals Awaiting Patricia Reaves' Featured Presentation

For this evening’s program we had a total of 60 participants in attendance for the program.  We had 4 new participants in attendance.

I spent the first half hour of the program having the new participants introduce themselves to all of us as well as reviewing the handouts package via the blog upload.  The review included a number of upcoming programs for other societies and some tips I shared on the new FamilySearch Beta, the new genealogy site from the Allen County Public Library at, and a review of a couple of articles from some genealogy journals on understanding passenger lists and how to connect to living kin.

Program Participants Reviewing Patricia Reaves' Handout for the Evening Program Prior to the Start of the Program

All of the details for what I reviewed can be found in the November 2010 Handouts package within this blog in the “Handouts” section of this blog along the right sidebar.  Just click on the link for the handouts package and you will be taken to a PDF file of the Handout package.

Patricia started her presentation at around 8:10 PM by giving all of us an in-depth view of historical aspects of Germany and how all of that ultimately ties into better understanding material you may find on any of the actual Hamburg or Bremen passenger lists you may encounter in your own research.

Patricia’s handout of her program included the following:

  • A couple of historical maps of Germany, one of which identified and showed the German Empire that was in existence between 1871-1918.
  • A small list of some of the key “Passenger List” websites that are available on the internet.
  • A small list of some of the “Cemetery” websites that are available on the internet.
  • A listing of some German to English phrases you may encounter that refer to reference material.
  • A one page “Old German Type and Handwriting Guide” that can assist you when you are researching German Type and German Script handwriting and print within these documents.
  • A list of some common German phrases you may encounter with their equivalent English translation that you may encounter within Birth, Baptism, Marriage and Death records.
  • A one page guide to help you with German names that would show misspellings, variations, translations and the variety of spellings that could occur.

Some of the internet web sites Patricia shared with us via her handout for Passenger Records were:

Some of the Internet Web sites Patricia shared with us via her handouts regarding “Cemeteries Online” were:

Patricia indicated that a good amount of the Bremen records were destroyed during world War II when Bremen was bombed.  There are scatterings of some of the records, but paltry in scope in comparison to the number of emigrants that left Germany via that port.  If an ancestor left through Bremen, it is likely their arrival into the United States was through the port of Baltimore because that is the arrangement that was made for the transatlantic passage.

Large Posterboard of Germanic Passenger Information Brought by Patricia Reaves to Show As A Resource to the Audience

Patricia mentioned that the vast amount of Hamburg passenger records are available from but they are in German.  Arrivals into the United States via a Hamburg departure often arrived into the port of New York.

Patricia also mentioned that if you believe you have discovered the village or town of your ancestor, that you should simply type in the town name as an Internet address to see if the town has a presence on the Internet.  This can be more productive if you append the basic address with the country code that is also part of an Internet when it applies to outside the United States.  As an example, if it were an ancestral town in Germany, you would use  You fill in the “townname” part of the address with your townname of interest.  If it were a town in Poland, end with PL.

You can find a list of “Country Codes” to use at:

You may actually find an ancestral town via this method.  You may also discover an incredible amount of historical information that someone may have uploaded to the site that can help you with your own research.  You never know what you may find, or not find, unless you give this method of searching a try!!  You could also run into the site and material being presented in the native language and not available easily in English.

Our Audience Is Focused on Material Being Presented by Patricia Reaves

One other major web site Patricia shared with us can be found at  It will load up as “German” language but you can easily find the British or USA flag icon on the screen and click it to get an English version of the site.  This site has been created by the Family History and Genealogical Society of Bremerhaven.  It has an incredible amount of data grouped in the following categories that applies to passengers from Bremen:

  • Family Names
  • Shipnames
  • Days of Departures
  • Destination Harbors
  • Home Towns
  • Group Photos
  • Original Soruces
  • Data Recording
  • Ship Pictures

Spend some time visiting the site if you have any possible connection to an ancestor that may have left Europe through the port of Bremen.  Unfortunately, remember, the vast majority of Bremen records were destroyed so you may only find spotty information at this site.  But it is worth a try to look and learn from this site about Bremen as a port of departure even if you do not find the names you might be looking for.

Patricia was still presenting to the last moments when we had to stop.  She stayed around for Q&A and to listen to and hear individual questions from those that stayed to the very end.

Patricia Reaves Emphasizing A Point from Her Presentation

Patricia is a wealth of knowledge on Germanic research.  Her excitement and love for this research was evident throughout this evening’s presentation.

I did make some additional copies of Patricia’s handout package.  Extra copies can be gotten in our library on the 2nd floor of our library at the Information Desk.  They are contained in a file drawer under the category of “Genealogy Handouts” that our staff can access and provide an extra copy to you in the library.

Spend some time looking at the links Patricia provided via the handouts and within her program that I noted above.

I want to thank Patricia for the excitement she brought to her presentation and for the depth of information she shared with us on this topic and on Germanic research in general.

We hope to have Patricia back at our library in the future with another wonderful presentation.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

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