German Passenger Ships

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German Passenger Ships

Students will analyze a Table of German Passenger ships that landed in Philadelphia from 1683 to 1775.  Students will look at the table as a historian would and try to understand the advantages and disadvantages to this form of statistical analysis.  Students will make generalizations about trends in immigration and suggest reasons for sudden spikes or drops in immigration.  This activity can be used in conjunction with Lesson One and Lesson Two.

Essential Questions

What role do multiple causations play in describing a historic event?
What role does analysis have in historical construction?


Student will be able to:

  • Iinterpret primary source materials and tables by analyzing the table of statistics about German immigration from 1683 to 1775.
  • Understand how immigration patterns changed over time and why patterns changed by evaluating data to make conclusions about trends in German immigration to Pennsylvania.

Suggested Instructional Procedures

  1. Assign Worksheet 3 and “Table 1:  Number of German Passenger Ships; Immigrant Men, Women and Children; and total passengers 1683-1775” as a homework assignment for students or as an in-class partner activity.
  2. Review answers to Worksheet 3.  Some questions will have more than one answer.  Teacher can write some of the possible explanations for question 7 on the board.
  3. Students should understand that finding the answers to such questions is part of the work that historians do.  Ask students how they would find the answer or explanations.


Artisan:  A skilled laborer or craftsman
Custom-house:  Government building or office where customs (taxes) were collected and ships were cleared for entering or leaving a country
Dysentery: An inflammation of the intestines.  Symptoms included extreme diarrhea, high fever, and severe pain and was usually caused by poor sanitation
Florin: A gold coin and form of currency
Forty-Eighters:  Germans who immigrated to the United States after the failure of the Revolutions of 1848.  They tended to be educated, middle class, and anti-slavery
French and Indian War:  A conflict between France and Great Britain in their North American colonies.  The war began in 1754 but later spread to Europe where it was known as the Seven Years War (1756-1763)
Indenturing:  A process of contracting labor for a set number of years in exchange for passage across the ocean
Lutheran: The largest Protestant denomination in Germany.  They followed teachings of Martin Luther and stressed education and justification through faith alone
Mennonites:  A religious sect who followed the teachings of Menno Simon (1492-1559).  They believed in simplicity of food and life, separation of church and state, and refused to bear arms or serve in the military.  They were closely related to the Amish
Newlander:  An agent commissioned by shipping companies to convince people to settle in America. 
Principality:  A sovereign state ruled by a prince or princess
Redemptioner:  A person who agreed to serve usually three to seven years in the colonies in exchange for transportation.  At the end of the term, the person was released from his or her obligations and awarded all the rights of a free citizen.  Redemptioner was sometimes called indentured servant
Scurvy:  A disease caused by vitamin C deficiency.  The symptoms included spongy and bleeding gums and general weakness and was usually caused by lack of fresh fruit and vegetables
Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648): A war mostly fought in Germany between Protestants and Catholics but involved many European nations including the Holy Roman Empire, France, and Sweden.  The war was started by German Protestant princes who resisted the authority of the Holy Roman Empire and ended with the Peace of Westphalia
Traffickers:  People who dealt in buying and selling humans and/or their labor

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