Prussian Emigration Records in Polish Archives

(Based on records stored at the State Archive in Szczecin / Stettin)
By Tadeusz Hubert Pilat, MLS, AG

Prussia formerly included part of the lands which now belong to Poland. These are the former lands of Pomerania, West Prussia, East Prussia, Posen, and Silesia. Documents which were created in these lands (provinces) are a result of Prussian administrative regulations. They were usually kept according to the same rules and that is why their format, size and shape are very similar. In fact, most of the documents were prepared on pre-printed sheets/forms so that a civil servant/clerk had to fill in columns with adequate information as each column required. Of course, some documents were prepared on detached pages or not on printed sheets/forms, but they were also valid for administrative purposes. An accumulation of the same type of records which usually consist of hundreds of pages was bound together and at the end they affect a book shape. That is why they can be called archival units. A fond (collection) of emigration records (emigrants going to North America, for example) is made up of such archival units. Szczecin is the modern Polish name for the city, and Stettin is the name that was used in German when it was part of Pomerania province, Prussia (called Pommern in German). The same type of emigration records can be found at the State Archive in Poznan / Posen (for Posen province) and at the State Archive in Opole / Oppeln (for Silesia / Schlesien province).

This article discusses the set of emigration records held at the State Archive in Szczecin / Stettin which can be used for genealogical purposes. This article describes also two examples of emigration records, showing how the column structure has changed. Usually, earlier emigration records contain less information than records produced after 1882. 

It has to be said that emigration records available at Polish archives are not as popular for research as other types of records like church books or civil registration. However, these emigration records can be a great source of information for people who are looking for their ancestors who left Prussia in the 19th century.

The Regierung Stettin

In 1815, a large part of Pommern consisted of two Regierung (a type of division within the province of Pommern): Regierung Stettin / Szczecin and Regierung Köslin / Koszalin. During the 19th century there were many administrative changes and according to those changes some districts belonged to Regierung Stettin or to Regierung Köslin.

Generally speaking, in 1815 Regierung Stettin consisted of the following districts:

  • Demmin,
  • Anklam,
  • Uznam-Wolin,
  • Randow,
  • Greifenhagen / Gryfino,
  • Saatzig / Szadzko,
  • Bork,
  • Daber,
  • Flemming,
  • Greifenberg / Gryfice,
  • Osten,
  • part of Kamien / Cammin and Kukulów.

According to an 1817 administrative reorganization in Prussia, a new Regierung division was established. One year later, a new district schema for Regierung Stettin was set and generally speaking it stayed without significant change until 1932.

The the post-1817 Regierung Stettin included the following districts:

  • Anklam,
  • Demmin,
  • Greifenberg / Gryfice,
  • Greifenhagen / Gryfino,
  • Kammin or Cammin / Kamien,
  • Naugard / Nowogard,
  • Pyritz / Pyrzyce,
  • Randow
  • Regenwalde / Resko,
  • Saatzig / Szadzko,
  • Ückermünde
  • Usedom-Wollin / Uznam-Wolin 

Rejencja Szczecinska / Regierung Stettin Fond

The large fond Rejencja Szczecinska / Regierung Stettin is divided into five different sections. It does not contain a unified structure because the same type of acts can be found in different sections of the fond. The most important section of this fond is section one (Wydzial Prezydialny / Präsidialabteilung [Presidium Section]) which includes many interesting records (for instance,Policja / Polizei [Police Section]) with great genealogical value.

Rejencja Szczecin documents are very voluminous and can repeatedly give fruitful genealogical information. Access to these records is open to the public. Archival attendants are available to assist researchers.

Präsidialabteilung [Presidium Section]

The Wydzial Prezydialny / Präsidialabteilung [Presidium Section] consists of almost 145 different sets of records. The Präsidialabteilung [Presidium Section] concerns passport records, emigration records and also foreigner's extradition records and national adherence records. 

Many people emigrated from Pommern to North America. Some of them were leaving their homeland through the port in Stettin and some of them were going to other European ports and left Europe from there (Bremen, Hamburg). Those who wanted to leave Prussia were required to file an emigration application. The Wydzial Prezydialny / Präsidialabteilung [Presidium Section] contains this kind of records.

Wydzial Prezydialny / Präsidialabteilung [Presidium Section] fond besides emigration records contains also other types of records which have great genealogical value. The subsections of this fond include: Police section (number 37), Section 8 Statistical materials, Section 2 Ausländeramt, Section Judensachen, Section Rassensachen, Section Gemischte Ehen, Section Auswanderung nach Nord America.

Polizei [Police Section]

The Polizei [Police Section] (number 37) includes many interesting records:

• 37/f
- Identification cards of national adherence from A to Z
- Citizenship acknowledgement records
- Passports for those who go to Russia. 
Fond numbers from I/9152 to I/9385. This fond concerns years 1868-1942.

• 37/g
- Obtaining Prussian citizenship. 
Fond numbers from I/9386 to I/9536. This fond concerns years 1906-1943.

• 37/h
- Relegations from Germany to Denmark. Sweden and Norway records.
- Relegations of foreigners records
- Passport correspondence with consul representatives.
- Indexes of relegators.
Fond numbers from I/9537 to I/9564. This fond concerns years 1817-1839.

• 37/i
- Colonization of foreigners in Rejencja/Regierung records.
Fond numbers from I/9565 to I/9648. This fond probably concerns records mostly from the 19th century. The archival inventory did not give a time period this fond concerned.

• 37/l
- Work permissions for foreigners.
Fond numbers from I/9655a to I/9661. This fond concerns years 1886-1933.

• 37/l
- Obtaining and deprivation of [Prussian] citizenship
- Emigration records.
Fond numbers from I/9662 to I/9677. This fond concerns years 1872-1942.

• 37/m
- Emigration to particular countries
Fond numbers from I/9678 to I/9744. This fond concerns years 1809-1934.

• 37/n
- Emigration from particular countries to North America
Fond numbers from I/9745 to I/9823. This fond concerns years 1818-1910.

• 37/o
- Registers of Poles having German citizenship and trying to obtain Polish citizenship.
Fond numbers from I/9823a – I/9871. This fond concerns years 1821-1940.

• 37/p
- Passports and Kenkarten [Identification cards].
Fond numbers from I/9872 – I/9884. This fond concerns years 1821-1942.

Section 8 Statistical Materials

Also very important is section eight of the Wydzial Prezydialny / Präsidialabteilung [Presidium Section] which contains statistical materials such as census records, death records and divorce records. These records are arranged by district names and concern years 1809-1938. The most valuable records for genealogical purpose are under fonds numbers from I/1123 to I/1674 of section eight.

Searching for a particular family or particular document is not easy. There are no summaries or indexes of all who emigrated. However, when a year of emigration is known, a certain section ofWydzial Prezydialny / Präsidialabteilung [Presidium Section] can be searched. But it also has to be said that the same type of records which cover the same period of time can be found under different sections.

Section 2 Ausländeramt

The range of matters of Rejencja Szczecinska / Regierung Stettin records is wide. It appears that emigration records can be also found in section two of Wydzial Prezydialny / Präsidialabteilung[Presidium Section]. Section two is called Ausländeramt and includes such records as consulate records, foreigners (non Prussian citizens) records, citizenship records, arrivals and departures to/from Prussia, passport records, identification cards, name-changing records and residency records. Ausländeramt section contains also Jewish records. There are two fonds numbers II/104 and II/106 which contain general Jewish cases Judensachen. Under these two fonds also can be found records which were somehow important for Prussian administration and they concern race documents Rassensachen and also mixed marriages documents (Jewish-Prussian) Gemischte Ehen. These records cover only four years of the 20th century from 1934 to 1937.

Auswanderungen nach Nord Amerika

The following discussion presents a short analysis of the records of emigration to North America (the section of the Presidium Section called Auswanderungen nach Nord Amerika). 

First of all, it has to be said that such records survived for all Rejencja/Regierung Szczecin districts but unfortunately for different years. The records are arranged chronologically for each district. Each archival unit of this type of records has the same order of material. These records’ shape is so-called fascykul, and they are like a bunch of documents bound together. It makes a book shape of each archival unit. Each book rather does not exceed 500 pages. After each year, an index of emigrants was usually presented. So the whole book has to be searched in order to find these indexes. Sometimes indexes were not included, so the whole year has to be searched entry by entry.

The amount of information which can be found in these indexes varies according to the year when the index was made. Usually indexes have a column structure – so each column contains a different kind of information. Earlier indexes present less information than indexes made after 1882. Later indexes are more precise and give the birth date and sometimes even birthplace of emigrants. 

Usually the index of emigrants starts with the text formula: Verzeichniß derjenigen Personen aus dem Kreise [district name] welche nach Nord Amerika ausgewandern beabsichtigen / List of people from [district name] who intend to immigrate to North America. There was also another text formula used as a heading of indexes: Nachweisung von denjenigen Personen, welche nach Nord Amerika auszuwandern beabsichtigen / List (documents) of people who intend to immigrate to North America.

It is very important to know that indexes are based on emigration applications made by people who intended to emigrate. Usually these applications are handwritten letters which were made by a person who wanted to emigrate. Very often the person who wrote an application was a family head (father), and he was also obligated to put all the names of people who wanted to emigrate with him like children, sometimes even parents of a family head, and other members of a family.

So it seems that when all applications were gathered, the main index of emigrants was made at the end of a year. It is also important to search the applications individually if an index entry is not found for a particular individual/family, because the indexes based on the applications can include some mistakes or omissions. The original signatures of applicants appear very often. All applications are made in German (usually gothic script).

Generally speaking, indexes made after 1882 give more detailed information. If an emigrant left Pommern before 1882, indexes are very helpful but to get more information the application letter has to be searched and read. It is not easy to read applications because in each case one has to deal with the different handwriting of the applicant. Not every single application letter was prepared personally by an emigrant. Many seem to have been prepared by a local civil servant/officer because printed sheets were used and the handwriting is clearer.

The later indexes give such important genealogical information as birth date (sometimes birthplace – but not very often), travel agent, port an emigrant was going through and also destination. Many people were emigrating to America on their own so a travel agent is not given. America is mostly given as the place of destination. It is very rare that other more detailed information appears, but sometimes a destination port is given, and sometimes even the name of a family member whom an emigrant was going to join.

In cases where whole families emigrated, the index shows the family head marked with a Roman numeral, and then all members of the family were marked with the following letters of the alphabet. In later indexes, the maiden name of the wife of a family head was often given. So the index can provide information about all family members who intended to emigrate.

Examples of Emigration Indexes

Following here are two examples of emigration records (indexes) Auswanderungen nach Nord Amerika which show the information they include.

Sample of Index from 1880

1

Laufende No.

Number

2

Vor – und Zuname

Name and Surname

3

Stand

Occupation

4

Wohnort

Place of residence

5

Alter

Age

6

Militair – verhältnisse

Military condition

7

Dispositionsfähigkeit

Ability to military service

Sample of Index from 1882 (for Otto Weinstein)

A

Laufende No.

Number

2

B

Vorname

Name

Otto

C

Zuname

Surname

Wienstein

D

Stand und Gewerbe

Occupation

Studente

E

Datum der Geburth

Birth date

6/2 53

F

Alter nach Jahren

Age in years

29 3/12

G

Wohnort

Place of residence

Demmin

H

Dispositionsfähigkeit bezw. Außerung der Orts – Polizei - behörde

Ability to military service – for district authorities or police

Dispositionsfähig Polizeiliche bedenken liegen nicht vor.

I

Militairverhältnisse

Military condition

Reservist

K

Vermögensverhältnisse

Ability

Gut

L

Namen und Wohnort des Agentur

Name and surname of travel agent

Ohne Agenten

M

Name des hafens über welchen die Auswanderunger folgen soll

Name of port an emigrant is going through

Hamburg

N

Reiseziel

Destination

America

 


 

Tadeusz H. Pilat is a professional genealogist residing in Tarnobrzeg, Poland, in the southeastern part of that country. He regularly visits many archives in Poland and is available for research. Ask for a free estimate.

Tadeusz H. Pilat, "Prussian Emigration Records in Polish Archives" (Online:  ProGenealogists, Inc., 2005) [Edited by Kyle J. Betit, updated 4 November 2005], <http://www.progenealogists.com/poland/prussianemigration.htm>







 

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