Following the trail of our ancestors from Czechia to USA

Growing population and the size of the land that couldn’t get any bigger made a part of the inhabitants of Czech villages and towns move abroad, in the second half of the 19th century in particular. Some of them went to Prussia, some went south to Austria and quite a few of them went overseas to the USA. People of Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia often went to Chicago, New York or Cleveland as cheap labor force. Some went to farms where Czech emigrants had already been working on. Were your ancestors and relatives among them? Let’s take a look at where on the Internet you can find information about their journey overseas.

A primary source of information are lists of names of ocean liners’ passengers. The lists will tell you not only when your ancestors set out, where from and when they arrived, but also if they travelled on their own or with a family, how much money they had, what was the purpose of their journey and where they went afterwards.

Even though not all the documents are still existing, a huge part of them is digitalized and available online. A huge advantage is that almost all the information there is indexed, so you can search in the lists easily and quickly, all you have to do is to write your ancestor’s name. Just keep in mind that those who wrote down their names usually didn’t know Czech so neither the first nor the last name have to be written correctly.

Bremen Passenger Lists

Lists of passengers leaving from Bremen, Germany are available online for free at:

The website contains passengers lists of ocean liners leaving from different European harbors, especially Hamburg from where many Czechs were leaving. Unfortunately, details are available for registered members only. You will find the lists here.

National Archives

You can search passengers lists also on the website of USA National Archives.

Castle Garden

Online lists of immigrants are available on the website of the first official immigration center of USA, you can find them here.

Ellis Island

Harbor in New York, USA, where ocean liners with immigrants arrived. It had been an immigration center since 1892 and passenger lists are available online. You must register on the website but unlike the Ancestry site, the previews are free, and you pay only if you want to download the scans. See more here.


You can search passenger lists on FamilySearch, too. You can use Research on in the same way.


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