Permission to Leave?

One did not always just leave Europe and head off to America without paperwork, particularly as the 19th century wore on.  In some locations, in some time periods, it was necessary to secure some permission or documentation in order to leave the old country. One simply did not leave home, head to port, get on a boat and leave. Sometimes these records have been preserved and in some cases they have been microfilmed by the Family History Library.

Searching for them in the card catalog generally requires looking at jurisdictional levels larger than the town or the county of origin. That’s how that I located records for Ostfriesland, Germany, referred to in the catalog as “Auswanderungskonsenses.” The records are described as covering from 1842 through 1913,but they are more complete as time moved forward. Not every Ostfriesian completed this process. Of my nearly forty immigrant ancestors, one appears in this record. Of the even larger number of aunts and uncles who immigrated, only two more appear.

Not every jurisdiction has these records. I had hoped to find something similar in the card catalog for villages in Thuringen where I also have family. There were no such records.

Not every jurisdiction has these records of emigrants, but one never knows until one looks. It may be that the records exist but have never been microfilmed.

The file for my ancestor Focke Goldenstein in the Auswanderungskonsenses contains a letter from his father. Focke was 16 when he immigrated and the letter references his age. The 1870 era letter is being translated and we will have an update when that’s been completed.




3 thoughts on “Permission to Leave?

  1. There are some German-state records of permission-to-emigrate that include valuation of property taken, and fees or taxes on it.

  2. Kathryn Schultz says:

    I found a permission record for my husband’s Schultz ancestor to leave Potsdam, Brandenburg in 1855. It also gives his wife’s maiden name as Peltz, the only place
    so far I’ve found that. This record (in German) was found on in a
    database called “Auswanderungsakten Brandenburg, Preussen” (Sorry, but I can’t
    type the German Eszett character.), compiled by Marion Wolfert. This record was on
    Family History Library microfiches #6109219-6109220 (of 54 total microfiches).
    I found this several years ago, so these records may now be available in a different
    format or online. The original records are held at Brandenburgishes Landeshauptarchiv
    in Potsdam, Germany.

  3. I am trying to figure out the timing of requesting permission to leave, it being granted, and when immigrants actually left home. In my case, the FHL microfiches shows my ancestor’s emigration date as May 16, 1855. But is that when he was given permission to leave, when he actually left his village, when he left Brandenburg, or what? His ship left from Bremen and arrived in New York on August 2, 1855, so the May 16 date does not relate to when he left Bremen.

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