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The editors and publisher have announced that they have received sufficient support to continue GTA through the 1860's, and possibly as far as the 1890's. This information is most welcome. To improve the coverage of future volumes, however, the editors might consider the following recommendations.
First, the selection criterion should be changed from ethnic background as determined by surname forms to nationality. As discussed above, determining ethnic background solely on the basis of surname forms is extremely difficult and prone to error [note 48]. While selecting passenger manifests for publication strictly on the basis of the nationality of their passengers may result in the omission of some lists on which the passengers are not German nationals but ethnic Germans from elsewhere in Europe, it is important to note that the title of the work is Germans to America, and most experienced genealogists searching for immigrant ancestors from Switzerland, France, or the Austrian Empire would not think to check a work with such a title, even if the people in question were ethnic Germans.
Secondly, the requirement that 80 percent of the passengers listed on a manifest be in some way "German" (in this case, German nationals) should be lowered considerably. Ships continued to grow in size throughout the 19th century, with the result that by the 1870's it was not unusual for a vessel specially built for the emigration trade to carry more than 1,000 passengers. To require that a ship of this size carrying at least 800 German nationals to be eligible for publication--or, to rephrase the statement, to disqualify a ship of this size carrying as many as 600 or 700 German nationals--seems unreasonable. In fact, the following two-tiered approach seems much more sensible:
Finally, the editors should include transcripts of those manifests containing names of German immigrants that survive only as National Archives microfilms, or, at the very least print at the beginning of each volume a list of those microfilmed manifests that contain the names of German immigrants.
This article is copyright © 1990 Michael P. Palmer, but may be republished, in whole, or in part, with proper attribution.
An earlier version of this article was published in German Genealogical Society of America Bulletin, vol. 4, No. 3/4 (May/August 1990), 69, 71-90.
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