What’s a Palatine German?

A client recently asked me to clarify the meaning of “Palatine German” in researching their family origins. In simple terms, a “palatine” is someone from the “palatinate”, an area near the Rhine River near present-day Southwestern Germany. The term has been used to refer to German immigrants who originated from that particular region of Europe.

In this particular research project, the “German Palatines” were early 18th century emigrants from the Middle Rhine region who immigrated to North America by way of Rotterdam as part of a larger wave of Palatine immigration. Like many of their brethren, they settled near present-day Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and remained for several generations.

Some  genealogical resources use the terms “Pennsylvania Dutch” and “German Palatines” interchangeably. It’s important to note that many but not all Pennsylvania Dutch are descendants of refugees from the Palatinate of the German Rhine.

Here are a few additional and excellent resources for better understanding this terminology and it’s application in family history research:

Texas’ Ellis Island

Don’t overlook this port of entry when researching 19th century immigration routes. Thousands of immigrants, primarily from Germany and Eastern Europe, disembarked at the port of Galveston, Texas, between 1846 and 1948.

Beginning in the 1830s, Galveston was an increasingly popular port of entry for German immigrants. Up to 20,000 German immigrants settled in Texas after Texas Independence in March 1836 and prior to U.S. annexation in December 1845. Many settled in the Texas towns of New Braunfels and Fredericksburg.

Note: If your German ancestors passed through the port of Galveston prior to 1847, you won’t find their passenger records on Microfilm Series M575 (see below) because during that time, Texas was an independent nation and not subject to U.S. Customs Passenger statutes.



  • National Archives Microfilm Collection – Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Galveston, TX, 1896–1951. M1359. 36 rolls. (PDF)
  • Copies of Lists of Passengers Arriving at Miscellaneous Ports on the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts and at Ports on the Great Lakes, 1820–1873. M575. 16 rolls. (PDF)
  • Index to Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Galveston, TX, 1906-1951. This is an alphabetical index to the names of passengers arriving at Galveston and the subports of Houston and Brownsville, Texas beginning in October 1906.

NARA Roll# / FHL Roll# / Covers
M1358-1 / 1402454 / Aab, Maria–Duquesne, Isidro Ariosa
M1358-2 / 1402455 / Duran, Carlos–Inglis, Elizabeth
M1358-3 / 1402456 / Ingram, Joseph–Lavitjanz, Arschak
M1358-4 / 1402457 / Lawenda, Joel–Papurlieff
M1358-5 / 1402458 / Paracheroff, Dimitar–Schriever
M1358-6 / 1402459 / Schrobenhauser, Anni–Weigert, Jacques
M1358-7 / 1402460 / Weiger, Georg–Zyzora, Wasyi


  • A New Land Beckoned: German Immigration to Texas, 1844-1847, Chester W. Geue and Ethel H. Geue; 2nd enlarged ed; Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co, 1972.
  • Ships Passenger Lists, Port of Galveston, Texas, 1846-1871, the Galveston County Genealogical Society; Easley, South Carolina: Southern Historical Press, 1984.
  • Galveston: Ellis Island of the West (Suny Series in Modern Jewish History), Bernard Marinbach. June 30, 1984.