EMIGRANTS 1889 - 1920


Polish emigrant

The second period of substantial emigration started in 1880 and had a.o. to do with the fact that cheap grain was imported on a large scale from .... North America! Because of this the agricultural areas in the Netherlands, and elsewhere, encountered hard times with a lot of unemployment and poor living conditions which made many laborers and farmhands to emigrate. During 1880 - 1893 tens of thousands departed for the "New World" from both Antwerp as Rotterdam. In 1889 no less than 15252 emigrants boarded in Rotterdam, 5862 of them being Dutch. However, in that particular year not all of them left for North-America but also for South-America. In 1888 the "Nederlandsch - Amerikaansche Stoomvaart Maatschappij", better known as NASM and later on as the HAL (Holland Amerika Lijn), introduced a regular passage to Argentina. Furthermore the Argentinian government offered free passage in order to
stimulate emigrants to choose for their country rather than North America. It is known that this adventure turned out to be a desillusion for many of the emigrants. Quite a lot of them died, often from hunger and in 1890 the NASM stopped this so-called "La Plata passage". You will find various emigrants from Ferwerderadeel to Argentina in the database. For more information on Frisians to Argentina see also the section "Pasajes subsidiarios".

In previous years many German emigrants boarded ships in Rotterdam but as from 1891 emigrants from Eastern Europe were in majority. In 1891 only 7312 emigrated via Rotterdam, however in 1913 this number had increased to 44299 Russian/Polish "landverhuizers". This increase of Eastern Europe emigrants can be explained by the fact that most of them were Jewish people who suffered from ill-treatment, pursuits and even murder ("progroms") in their home country. In other words: many of them were actually refugees and one of the routes to safety was to go to Rotterdam, board a ship and emigrate. Most of the time they arrived in Rotterdam with no more than the cloths they wore. The dreadful story of the Jewish emigrants is a long one but -with all respect- goes beyond this website.

In 1893 the NASM opened a "landverhuizers" hotel at the Wilhelminakade in Rotterdam enabling emigrants to get a descent place to eat and sleep. The Wilhelminakade was the location where the emigrants ships arrived and departed. Later on the headoffice of the HAL was built on this embarkment quay and it's still there. No longer as an office but as the wellknown and popular hotel/restaurant/cafe "Hotel New York", named after an emigrants hotel with the same name on the "Noordereiland" at Rotterdam more than hundred years ago.

The period of 1901 - 1914 was the peak of emigration. During this time frame ca. 700,000 emigrants departed from Rotterdam to America. For example:

- 1903 : 52830 emigrants
- 1910 : 60897 emigrants
- 1913: 82470 emigrants

Most of them arrived in Rotterdam by train at the nearby Maasstation. In order to cope with these numbers of people a complete infrastructure was built on the Wilhelminapier and nearby areas including more emigrants hotels (one of them had room for 1800 emigrants), a first aid hospital, a chapel and disinfection facilities. Once aboard and on their way -mostly with a stop at Boulogne-sur-Mer in France to pick up more emigrants- the landverhuizers could set their mind on the next obstacle for them to take: the American Immigration Service at Ellis Island. The rules and regulations of the U.S. Immigration were known to be strict and harsh. Those suffering from a contagious disease were sent back without any discussion; if a doctor noticed a slight deviation the emigrant was marked with a chalkline on the shoulder and had to step aside for further medical examination. Dramatic situations occurred at Ellis Island and for this reason it is also known as "Island of Tears". The other reason why it had this nickname were the many tears of joy of the millions of emigrants who did make it through the Immigration and thus were offered the opportunity to make their dreams come true.

Source: "Toen zij uit Rotterdam vertrokken" by Cees Zevenbergen.
Publisher: Waanders Uitgevers, Zwolle

Amongst the many Dutch emigrants who settled in North-America, some in South-America, at least the following came from Ferwerderadeel (note: for unknown reasons there are no records available of 1896, 1900 and 1904 in the archives of Ferwerderadeel whereas in 1917 there was no emigration due to WW I):

 Adema - Oosterbaan
 Pijnacker - Zuidema

Source: records of emigration of the municipality Ferwerderadeel

Special thanks to Corrie de Boer-Sterk  for her kind cooperation.