TheShipsList-L ArchivesArchiver > TheShipsList > 1998-08 > 0903102069
From: Mary Puffenberger< >
Subject: Re:Wife immigrating before Husband
Date: Fri, 14 Aug 98 09:41:09 EDT
>How unusual would it be for a wife and mother to come over alone, possibly
>with >her oldest daughter, in that time period? I can't imagine a woman
>her husband and children to live in a foreign country!"
Bobi & Group:
This is my interpretation of what I've read in the book "News From The Land
of Freedom" If anyone out there knows any of the following information to
be incorrect, please correct me. I'm definitely, not an expert. :>
According to what I've read in the book "News From The Land of Freedom" (a
collection of German immigrant letters written from America to family &
friends in Germany), this could be possible. In the prelude to one set of
letters it explains that women had a much easier time than men becoming
employed when they arrived America. Women and young girls were hired as
housegirls/servants and had comfort in knowing that when they arrived in
America they would at least have a place to live and food to eat. This
particular set of letters is from a husband and wife who work and save
money through the years to buy ship passage for their brothers and sisters.
Repeatedly, the girls came over first (to work and save money and
contribute to the family). But, depending on the brothers occupation, they
are told to stay in Germany for a while longer because they will not be
able to find work if they come to America, or are told to learn a new
occupation because there is no work for their current one.
Although it is also very hard for me to imagine a wife and mother and
eldest daughter leaving their family in Germany, this might be a possible
Also, in the book, it mentions that local German city? or province?
government sometimes gave immmigrants money to help pay for their passage
to America. Apparantly, this was especially the case if the immigrant was
without means of support. The book leads me to believe that Germany had
some sort of "welfare" system at that time and the reason they helped pay
for ship passage was because they reasoned it was cheaper for them in the
long run than it would be to support the individual or group for many
years. A women with many children whose husband had died would fall in
this category. Maybe visa/versa too.
Additionally, it was required that Germans who wished to immigrate received
permission from the German government (although many left without
permission). Perhaps, a man with many children, with a wife & child in
America, would be more likely allowed to leave.
Another interesting fact given in the book is that Germans were required by
their government to have a specific amount of money saved before they were
allowed to marry. This was to prove they would not become dependent on the
goverment. Many people were not able to save the amount of money and were
not able to be legally married. A consequence of this rule is that many
illegitimite children were born.