It is a little-known fact that immigration records in Pomerania used to be kept by the police departments in county-level divisions. These records give much more insight than most would imagine, including descriptions of appearances, those traveling with, and supporting documentation for the emigrant. Sometimes, one can gain a better understanding of why the person was leaving or potentially learn about the parents of someone who is a dead-end in your family tree.

It’s important to note that people weren’t allowed to move about as they pleased, and one needed the proper documentation to travel outside of their respecting jurisdictions. This was also required for people traveling outside of Pomeranian territories into other German states in earlier times. Not everyone complied with these laws.

While not a complete copy of the entire collection, we have obtained a substantial number of records spanning from 1851 through 1932. The items below were on my list to photograph, but I was not able to plow through all of them. They are hefty books with hundreds of pages each, and the varying page sizes made it difficult to pace each book. There should be others within the archives that pertain to other aspects on immigration; just because it isn’t listed here doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. However, the vast majority of records containing information of a genealogical nature are included below:

A few of the collections were skipped over after noticing their contents appeared to be similar to Erteilung von Reisepässen, Personalausweisen und Passkarten 1924-1932. This book is void of most things concerning family history. It does, however, offer a very detailed look into the immigration process between Germany and the rest of the world.

One might be curious as to what information can be gleaned from the other compendiums listed above. Let’s take a look.

Passports

I’ll begin with one of the rarest, yet most exciting finds. Very rarely, a photograph on the newest documents can be found. Unfortunately for some of the “Personalausweis” pages, the photographs have been ripped out.

Personal Descriptions

A “Signalement” (a word of French origin meaning a physical description) can be found on the left side of the pages below. These list details about the person’s appearance including eye color, height, weight, and build. The right side gives more information about the emigrant’s final destination, family, and where they would travel through to arrive at their end destination. Of great importance are birth dates, places, and residences. Spouses and children are given below the head of the household with their birth dates as well. These documents give concrete proof of the relationships between people who were traveling together.

Military Passports

A description of an emigrant’s military service is also included on numerous documents within these books. A military passport is usually referenced to prove the person had fulfilled legal requirements before emigrating from the empire. On a rare occasion, a Militärpaß can be found attached as supporting documentation.

Information on the Final Destination

Especially pertaining to emigration to Brazil, documentation can be read concerning the entire history of why the village was set to be colonized. The map below was a chance find.

Ship Manifests

One can also find rosters of a ship’s passengers throughout several of the books.

Final Thoughts

While this is not a thorough study of all of the materials found, this shows the importance of such documents for genealogy. They are of great relevance to researchers who are trying to connect their roots back to their homeland. Many early ship manifests through Castle Garden leave out valuable information that could link families together, opting for only names, ages, and ethnicity. These emigration documents peel back the layers and offer hope to those whose research has stopped short.

It seems that these records have been overlooked for far too long, and it is of the utmost importance that other similar collections be brought to light to further research. My hope is to have these listings searchable someday so others who cannot read the old script can find the names of their ancestors and learn more about where their families came from.

 

This collection has not been transcribed yet.

Help us make these records more accessible for researchers worldwide. If you can read old script, we would love your help to make the entries in these books searchable. Please consider donating your time, even if it's just for a few pages. (We also use Google Sheets so you can see where the last person left off and where the work needs to be continued!)

If you're interested, please send an email to chris@mypomerania.com.

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