Germans to America is a series of books which index ship passenger arrival records of German immigrants for the years listed below. Each volume contains a chronological listing of the passenger lists, followed by an alphabetical index of each passenger in that volume. There are approximately 70,000 names in each volume. The following information is generally given for each passenger: name, age and sex; and when given: occupation, country or province of origin, village of residence (most say "unknown"), and destination (many say "unknown" or simply "US"). Also listed is the name of the ship, date of arrival, and ports of departure and arrival. The amount of information given may vary for each listing.
You will find people who listed their country of residence as Germany, Prussia, Bavaria, or numerous other German states (like Baden, Hesse, Saxony, Brandenburg, etc). Passengers from Switzerland, France and Luxembourg are also sometimes included. You will generally not find passengers from Austria, Hungary or other nearby areas. Germans from Russia should be listed in the separate Migration from the Russian Empire series.
Despite errors and some omissions, Germans to America can still be a helpful research tool for tracking down German immigrant ancestors, and finding the ship passenger list. The books are listed below by volume and time frame - the books are very expensive so you might try a library. Information about the Germans to America online database follows the book section.
Note 1: Beginning with 1891 Germans to America only includes arrivals to the port of New York. The earlier volumes (up to 1890) cover German passenger arrivals to the major US ports (New York, Baltimore, Boston, Philadelphia and New Orleans), although the listings may not be complete for every port.
Note 2: The first 9 volumes only indexed passenger lists of ships that contained at least 80% German passengers. Beginning with Volume 10 this was changed:
"In the 1850-1855 volumes, these lists contain a minimum of 80 percent German surnames and are published in their entirety. Starting in 1856 the selection criterion changes to include all ships with German passengers, regardless of the percentage. Unlike the previous volumes, only those calling themselves Germans are now listed; all other passenger names are deleted. It should be noted that after 1856 these German immigrants include those coming not only from German states or territories but also from countries such as France, Switzerland, or Luxembourg." [From the introduction to Volume 10]
Note 3: Some Baltimore arrivals are missing from Germans to America. This webpage explains how to find these missing passengers: Germans to America & Baltimore.
Germans to America Online DatabaseGermans to America Passenger Data File, 1850-1897 from the U.S. National Archives