Passenger lists from the Holland-America Line (HAL) at the Rotterdam City Archives

Between 1900 and 1969 millions of people traveled and emigrated with the ships of the Holland-America Line.

The Holland-America Line (HAL), originally a Dutch transatlantic cruise company, offered full trips, but emigrants also made use of the HAL. Many Dutch people do have relatives who have migrated to the United States or Canada. There is a good chance that they have used the HAL services.

Also, many Polish Jews traveled via Rotterdam to New York. Between 1880 and 1920, approximately one million Eastern Europeans traveled to America via Rotterdam. The Holland America Line had offices in Bulgaria, Latvia, and Russia where tickets could be purchased for the train to Rotterdam, the boat to America and again the train to every station in the New World. The list also shows that they booked their trip in their native country.

These passenger lists (“passagiersstaten”) are handwritten lists with information about who made the crossing to the promised land with which ship and when. It was also recorded how much the passengers paid for the trip and in which class they traveled.

These sources are one of the most consulted sources within the Rotterdam City Archives ( The documents have already been scanned (around 150,000 scans) and therefore available digitally. Both the books with passenger lists and the scans can be found at the Rotterdam City Archives. But those files are not yet accessible online. There is no transcription, so it is not possible to search, for example, for a passenger name.

The Rotterdam City Archives, in collaboration with CBG|Centrum voor familiegeschiedenis ( Center for family history –, took upon them the initiative to digitally disclose and publish the HAL passenger lists from the period 1900 to 1969 on the national WieWasWie platform ( Ultimately, these lists must be searchable on the own website of the Rotterdam City Archives and be made available on platform sites.

For this, they work in cooperation with the Vele Handen platform. Vele Handen is a so-called crowdsourcing platform ( Volunteers can help behind the computer at home by making the scans accessible by naming personal data. Because each scan is entered by two different people and is checked by a third, the chance of errors is small. In this way, the data of around three million people can be found.

The information is interesting for people who want to know more about their family tree and family history, but also for scientists who, for example, investigate emigration flows.

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