Emigration from Lippe to the USA  

Naturwissenschaftlicher und Historischer Verein für das Land Lippe e.V.

Emigration from Lippe – imigration in USA

Viva America ! These words on their lips, ardent eyes and full of hope numerous people from the „Old World“ started towards the „New World“.

With the key-word “emigration” most of the people associate the emigration to America in the 19th century. In the years following 1820 about 60.000 people emigrated from Germany to America. The height has been after the failed revolution in Germany in 1848. In the years following 1850 up to 1 million people have gone overseas. Around 90% have travelled to the USA, others to Canada, Brazil and Australia.

The reasons why the people have made this long journey to the more or less unknown, are varied. There were political, religious and economic motives and often alltogether – like today. The circumstances seemed to be to tight in the old Europe; it was hard to act free, democratic or economic. The first emigration wave of pioneers was followed by relatives, friends and neighbors to the new industrial nation. Others left their country undercover or without giving notice to the authorities: deliquents, deserters or such who didn’t know that they would have needed a permission. In the year 1846 the government of LIPPE has fixed legal basics for the procedure of emigration, they have been published in the “Landesverordnungen” for LIPPE (see at “Landesverordnungen für das Land Lippe IX, page 551).

In the 19th century about 20.000 people emigrated from Lippe to America. Fritz Verdenhalven (a local researcher) explained in his elementary books about emigration; how difficult it was to get exact numbers. A lot of people had left the country by economic reasons. As before the “Hollandgänger” ( people who went into the Netherlands for working), the people from Lippe have left, due to poverty and poor earning, to go in other countries or counties to earn money. Amoung them were numerous workers and farmers, but also craftsmen and salesmen. About 1,000 maidens, with or without perspective to be married, have made the travel to the glorious land across the Atlantic.

Based on stored documents in the archives their history could be tracked back. Furthermore research literature informs about emigration motives and living circumstances as well as results from source analyzation.

Sources to emigration (look at “literature about emigration”) :
For this database predominant american sources (lists of emigrants, passenger lists) have been analysed by Dietmar Willer. He has done a comparison with those from Fritz Verdenhalven and added information from his files out of the “Staatsarchiv Detmold”. By such a way to analyse it’s impossible to consider 100% of the available info and sometimes not for all events of the past are sources available. That means people who are not listed might have been emigrants too, because not all members of a family have been written down in the documents.
Especially papers from authorities who directed the citizenship are very interesting for emigration research.
Furthermore there are personal facts in legal files, such as churchbooks, copies of churchbooks and registry office files.

The national archives NRW (North Rhine Westphalia (a county in Germany), shows on its homepage information about the files of the archiv in Detmold.

Dr. Bettina Joergens, archiv Detmold

[Translation by Harald Deppe who would appreciate any correction in grammar and vocabulary]