Balch Online Resources


Thanks to popular publications known as "emigrant guides",  Europeans learned about the passage and opportunities in the United States and Canada before leaving their homes in Europe.  Emigrant guides were written by individuals who had made the journey from Europe to America and were published in mono- or bi-lingual editions. 

Monolingual guides presented the information about the crossing and life in America in the language of the target audience.  Bilingual guides presented the information in the language of the target audience on one page with the same information translated into English on the opposite page.  In addition to providing practical information about the crossing and life in America, the bilingual guide also served as an introduction to the English language.   

Emigrant guides are an important component of the emigration experience because they provided prospective emigrants with essential information that allowed them to make informed decisions on the feasibility of migrating to the United States or Canada. View some of the emigrant guides that were published in the nineteenth century. 

View excerpts from three emigrant guides, each dating from a distinct time period in American immigration history: Joseph Pickering's 1832 guide to the United States and Canada, F.W. Bogen's English/German guide to the United States circa 1851, and Hugo Kuerschner's 1891 English/German guide to the United States.  Balch Institute Collection

Also, read what the American Social Science Association told prospective emigrants to do  before leaving Europe in 1871 and portions of a fictional account describing one family's passage from GermanyBalch Institute Collection

Individuals occasionally secured official paperwork necessary before emigrating.  Documentation included verification of domicile, passports, visas, and letters of reference for future jobs in America.  View the documents of Swiss immigrant Johannes Cemlicht and German immigrant Friedrich Hintz, both of whom came to the United States during the mid-nineteenth century.

Finally, view a ticket complete with travel instructions from the 1850s and an advertisement from the 1891.

Pickering, Joseph.  Inquries of an Emigrant: Narrative of an English Farmer from the Years 1824 to 1830.  London, England:  Effingham Wilson, 1832.

Bogen, F.W.  The German in America.  Boston, Massachusetts: B.H. Greene; New York City, New York: Koch & Co.; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: J. Weik, 1851.

Kuerschner, Hugo.  The American: A Guide in the United States of America.  Washington, DC: Hugo Kuerschner, 1891.

American Social Science Association.  Handbook for Immigrants to the United States.  New York, New York: Hurd and Houghton; Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Riverside Press, 1871.

Dr. Dietrich, The German Emigrants; or, Frederick Wohlgemuth's Voyage to California.  Translated by Leopold Wray.  Guben: Printed by F. Fechner, 185?.

Cemlicht Documents  [38.1 KB; 52.4 KB]

Hintz Passport and Certification  [84.4 KB; 47.8 KB]

Ship Ticket and Advertisement  [133 KB; 54.9 KB]

Below are two images of emigrant ships receiving individuals who have decided to travel to America.  Click on these images for larger views.

Departing Emigrants

[67.8 KB]

White Star Liner leaving Genoa

[26.1 KB]


This Internet publication has been supported by a grant from The Equitable Foundation.