Genealogy research roadblock–Bremen, Germany

I knew eventually I would hit a roadblock. That roadblock occurred today as I attempted to find more information about my grandfather’s emigration to Canada. the only information I have is regarding his arrival date–1912. That’s it. I don’t know when he arrived and I don’t have the name of his ship. I don’t know when he left Europe and I don’t have his port of departure from the mainland to England from where he would ultimately depart for North America.

I am assuming he left out of Bremen, Germany as that was the primary point of departure for European immigrants to North America. Hamburg was used by immigrants, but very few. I knew that records had been carefully kept for decades. Unfortunately, thousands of documents were destroyed when room became scarce in Bremen archives around 1908. Several thousand records from 1920-1939 were found and saved, but everything else was lost in WWII. They were kept in salt mines and transferred to Moscow in 1942. Between 1987 and 1992, the records were returned to Bremen.

I have attempted to find documents online at the destination, which I am presuming to be Quebec City, Canada. But, I’m running into roadblocks there, too.  Perhaps I’m dumb, but some of these websites are not terribly user friendly. They tell you what to do in order to find information, but they don’t allow you to do it!

Ship used by my grandmother, Karolina, and her two children, Julia and Walter for their departure to Canada from London, England.

Ship used by my grandmother, Karolina, and her two children, Julia and Walter for their departure to Canada from London, England.

I’ve been able to get a list of some microfilm from Quebec City that supposedly has passenger lists from 1912. This info is not available online–at least I can’t find it. I have tried to get a list of ships leaving Bremen, Germany in 1912 but the number is enormous. Passenger lists in London, England are difficult to find, too. London comes into play because it was the actual port of departure for North America. Ships leaving Europe would go to Liverpool or London and depart from there.

This brings more potential information into the fold. How long was my family in London? The photo above shows the ship my grandmother and her two kids took. Where did they stay? What did they do for food? How much money did they have? Were they adequately prepared? Were they held up or were the ships on time?

I am now seriously considering a short trip to London and/or Bremen. Bremen might be better, but if so many of the records are lost, what would be the point? Would there be records in London somewhere that I could access? London is so prohibitively expensive and I don’t know how long I’d need to stay there. This whole thing is getting bigger and bigger.

Quebec quarantine station for immigrants

Quebec quarantine station for immigrants

The Port of Quebec was only open a few weeks per year because the St. Lawrence Seaway would freeze over. I know my grandmother and her two children arrived on July 20, 1920 in Quebec City. I think it is a safe assumption that my grandfather probably arrived during the spring/summer of 1912 when he left Europe.

After immigrants were unloaded and documented, they were sent to a quarantine station. This was to obviously prevent the spread of disease since so many of the immigrants were peasants. Plus, there was no way of knowing if anyone (even the wealthy) were carrying a disease. Something more to research!

Since the archive is closed until Monday, I’m reduced to relying on the internet. Unfortunately, I think I’ve maxed out the information available on the internet. Now I can’t wait for next week when the archive opens again and I travel to Warsaw!



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