Library of German emigration and immigration history in the German Emigration Center

The German Emigration Center Library in the former judges’ chambers in the historical Marine Board of Inquiry in Bremerhaven.
© German Emigration Center

On August 8, 2013, to mark the occasion of its eighth birthday, the German Emigration Center opened an extensive library with specialist literature that deals with the history of migration. The new library of German emigration and immigration history is a reference library and is housed in the Max-Kade-Saal of the Marine Board of Inquiry in Bremerhaven. Located opposite the museum in the Neuen Hafen, this historical building also houses the research department of the museum.

History of the library

Over a period of fifteen years, the “Freundeskreis Deutsches Auswandererhaus e.V.” collected literature related to Bremerhaven’s emigration history and Germany's immigration history thus creating a substantial research library. After the museum was opened in August 2005, the “Freundeskreis” presented the German Emigration Center with a library consisting of over 2,500 books as a permanent loan. The museum has continued to enlarge the collection ever since. Today, the library is composed of 5,000 volumes.

The Amerika Haus collection acquired by the “Freundeskreis” acquired in the early 1990s, formed the foundation of the library. In addition to purchases, it was supplemented by donations from private individuals and companies. Such as the Sparkasse Bremerhaven that helped purchase “Germans to America”, a collection of data about immigrants in the United States dated between 1850 and 1888.


The library includes anthologies, encyclopedias, emigration guides and monographs from Germany, the United States and South America. The books are consecutively arranged according to their year of acquisition and can be accessed through the museum’s own database.

The oldest book, “Governor Phillip’s Journey to New South Wales” by Arthur Phillip, was published in 1792. In the past few years, the German Emigration Center has mainly supplemented the library with current research literature associated with immigration to Germany. One of the most recent acquisitions is “Kritik und Gewalt. Sarrazin-Debatte, ,Islamkritik’ und Terror in der Einwanderungsgesellschaft.” Written by the migration researcher Klaus Bade, this work was published in 2013. Both books set the scene for the broad spectrum in which migration research now operates. The German Emigration Center library of German migration history also covers this sphere.

© German Emigration Center

© Wochenschau Verlag

The oldest book in the collection dating back to 1792 and a current edition published in 2013.

Graphics collection

Over the years, the “Freundeskreis” has not only established the library it also built a comprehensive archive consisting of migrants letters and compiled a graphics collection of 19th century illustrations of emigrant scenarios. These lithographs, colored as well as black-and-white, depict the parting scenes of European emigrants, illustrations of the living conditions overseas and regional depictions of the destination countries. A large part of the graphics illustrate the conditions on the emigrant ships. The collection represents one of the most significant collections of graphics on this subject in Germany.

“Der Abschied” (The Farewell), Neu-Ruppiner Bilderbogen, 1840.
© Collection German Emigration Center

Arrival in the port of New York with a view of the Statue of Liberty; lithography around 1890.
© Collection German Emigration Center

Germantown, around 1720.
© Collection German Emigration Center


Do you have literature relevant to the history of German migration and want to donate it to the German Emigration Center library? If so, please address our staff member Christoph Bongert. He will be glad to take care of the donation offer. Thank you for your support!

Opening hours

The library is currently open to the public twice a month: every second and fourth Wednesday of the month between 3 pm and 5 pm.

Visiting address

The German Emigration Center library of German emigration and immigration history is located opposite the museum in the historical Marine Board of Inquiry:

H.-H.-Meier-Straße 2
27568 Bremerhaven
Tel.: 0471 / 90 22 0 – 0
Contact person: Christoph Bongert

Postal address

Library of German emigration and immigration history in the German Emigration Center
Columbusstraße 65
27568 Bremerhaven

Sponsors and supporters

The “Freundeskreis” (Friends of the German Emigration Center) Freundeskreis – which was initially named “Förderverein des Deutschen Auswanderermuseums” – was formed in Bremerhaven in 1985 by Jürgen Rudloff among others. Their aim was to found an emigration museum in the city that had once been the largest emigration port on the European continent. Today, the “Freundeskreis” supports the German Emigration Center in the areas of research, museum and technology. The association organizes lectures relevant to the history of migration. These lectures are held in the German Emigration Center.

The “Initiativkreis Deutsches Auswandererhaus e.V.” enabled the conversion of the Max-Kade-Saal, the former judges’ chambers in the historical Marine Board of Inquiry, into the reference library. Initially founded by local businesses in 1998 as the “Initiativkreis Erlebniswelt Auswanderung”, the “Initiativkreis Deutsches Auswandererhaus” ensured that the goal of the Förderverein, i.e. the establishment of an emigration museum, was emphasized on a political level. Today, the “Initiativkreis” supports projects by the German Emigration Museum and the “Stiftung Deutsches Auswandererhaus” in addition to museum education programs for schools in Bremerhaven.