Also recommended: A Tide of Alien Tongues, Marrianne Wokeck (1982)
How did they decide on the journey? What factors turned their heads westward instead of to the eastern settlement schemes of Prussia, or the Austrian or Russian empires? Where did they get their advice from? Who led the Germans down the Rhine? How were they collected for trans-Atlantic shipment? Which middlemen profited from (or exploited) the "trade in strangers"? What were the costs of their passage? How were they received in the valley of the Delaware?
This scholarly book addresses the earliest trans-Atlantic mass migration to North America - those immigrants from southwestern Germany and northern Ireland who arrived prior to 1775. It answers the above questions and many more.
Our immigrant ancestors didn't just jump on a boat one day and arrive in the New World many weeks later without an entire system of personal and commercial contacts, information flows, and market forces to facilitate their passage. The huge influx of Germans prior to the Revolution followed a very complex chain of immigration which ensured that ships sailing to Philadelphia from ports in Holland carried "Redemptioners" rather than mere ballast. This book is primarily focused on their experiences.
The later and lesser pre-1775 Irish immigration differed significantly from the German experience both in immigrant composition and geographic mix between the northern counties and the southern counties of Ireland. Elements of the both the German immigrant trade and the Irish immigrant trade prior to the Revolution set the pattern for all later migration in the 1800s.
If you have Palatine, Swiss, or other German ancestors who landed in Philadelphia prior to 1775, this work is a fascinating study in understanding what they were up against - the "system" that moved them and the challenges they faced within that system.
Using both first-hand accounts and statistical analysis of diverse sources and studies, "Trade in Strangers" is an excellent way to understand early German and Irish immigration into the New World. Its focus is primarily the German immigration into the port of Philadelphia but it does mention why other destinations in America were less successful at attracting these immigrants. The smaller Irish immigration prior to 1775 is dealt with to a lesser extent and is mostly used as contrast for comparison to the simultaneous German immigration.
The elements of the system of immigration to America which were to remain constant until at least 1924 are highlighted because they were first used to channel these two early immigrant streams from Germany and Ireland.
This is a thoroughly-researched and well-written book. Historians of the American colonial experience, students of immigration, and family historians may all profit from reading this.
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A few minutes with this book will suggest to the reader who takes an interest in these things that Klingon is a profound failure. Here we have a record of people here on Earth who have created alternative linguistic structures that are even more unfamiliar to English speakers. This book will open your mind to the astonishing variety of ways human verbal communication can be categorised and organised. We have languages with no clear distinction between nouns and verbs, and languages that can give tense and conditionality to adjectives. We have languages that use different pronouns for a 'we' that includes the person being addressed, and a 'we' that excludes that person.
For a reader with interests in these matters, this will be a fascinating, if somewhat dry, read. Your joy at being introduced to this fascinating variety will be tempered, though, by the ever-present elegiac note in these pages. Literally hundreds of these tongues are still spoken only by a handful of aging people; hundreds more have gone silent.
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