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The Journey
Emigration usually involved three stages: firstly the journey from the home town to the nearest harbour had to be made; then the emigrants boarded a ship for their Atlantic crossing; and the last part of their journey took them from the harbour in America to their final destination there.

During the first half of the 19th century, prospective emigrants had to travel to Le Havre (France), Rotterdam (Holland) or Liverpool (England) to reach a ship that would take them across the Atlantic. They travelled on foot, by wagon or coach, and then reached the coast on riverboats along the Rhine, Main and Weser rivers. It was only when the railway network was extended from 1850 onwards that the German harbours of Bremen (Bremerhaven) and Hamburg became easier and faster to reach for emigrants from Bavaria.

In the harbour cities they often had to wait for weeks on end for their sailing vessel to leave port. Here they bought the necessary equipment, as well as provisions for the crossing. In 1850, to protect people who were unfamiliar with local conditions from confidence tricksters, and also to retain the city's reputation as a popular emigration port, the City Council in Bremen set up an official advice office for emigrants. It made sure that the prices being charged to emigrants were fair, and also provided information to those who needed it. Hamburg followed Bremen's example soon afterwards, and soon both cities had constructed vast "emigrant halls" to accommodate the crowds passing through.

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