deutsche Version

The book

Venne in America

has recently been published and is now available for purchase.

Inquiries about purchasing the English translation in the US, please email Rosalie Haines at

Venne in America portrays the 19th century mass emigration from a village in Lower Saxony (Germany) to America. According to the immigration expert, Dr. Wolfgang Grams (, Oldenburg, Germany), as yet, no comprehensive documentation of a German village has been published which discusses both the overall development of the factors contributing to emigration as well as documenting the individual fates of the participants.

Thus, this study exemplifies many villages. What was true for Venne, was true also for most of the rural settlements in Northwest Germany. In the first part of this well documented work, the author Udo Thoerner (Campemoor, Germany) elaborates the reasons for the mass emigration which were to be found mainly in the poverty and overpopulation of the time. The author then focuses on specific immigrant settlements of the Midwestern US: He describes the 15 main US destinations and their associated histories with innumerable individual biographies from a total of 2,000 emigrants.

In addition, Udo Thoerner portrays the 19th century travel conditions which today would be almost unimaginable. His statistical evaluations provide a link between Venne’s emigration history and the larger pan-German emigration movement of the 19th century. The richly illustrated appendix lists the name, year of emigration and destination of all the Venne emigrants.

The publisher of this comprehensive book is The Arbeitskries Familienforschung, Osnabruecker Land e.V. The English translation was first available in the fall of 2008. Financial support for publication was made possible by the Heimatbund Osnabruecker Land e.V., the Landschaftsverband Osnabruecker Land e. V. and the Heimat-und Wanderverein Venn e.V..

Review by Adolf E. Schroeder, Professor Emeritus, German Studies University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri 65211

Udo Thoerner’s Venne in America is a very valuable and welcome contribution to the history of German emigration to the United States, providing unique insight into the economic, political, and social conditions in nineteenth century Hanover that led to continuing emigration from the area. A thorough and detailed historical and sociological investigation of economic and social conditions and the inflexible system of class distinctions that made life difficult, particularly for two rural classes, the Kötter and Heuerling, is a model for those interested in the sources of the German “emigration fever.” Through a sampling of typical Heuerling who emigrated, it becomes clear that the conditions at home encouraged departure for America, where the expectation of land ownership, social equality, financial advancement, and personal freedom seemed well worth the discomforts of transatlantic travel and language difficulties the emigrant would face.

A thorough and well researched study of a village and area centered around Venne in Lower Saxony, some 20 km. from Osnabrück, the book contains an appendix listing 2,000 emigrants whose departure to the United States could be documented, with names, names of spouse, birth date, year of departure, and destination. It also has very helpful descriptive definitions of terms encountered in German documents and other hard to find information that makes it an invaluable research tool for those with roots in the area researching family history. Mr. Thoerner has produced a model study of emigration from a particular area.

From translator Rosalie Horstman Haines, PhD in Cultural Anthropology, Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania.

For many descendents of Northwest German immigrants, past genealogical research and understanding of immigrant history began when their ancestors landed in America with the ship’s name and port. Little was known of their ancestors’ lives prior to that, nor the details of the journey and route taken. For many, even the village of origin in Germany was lost and had to be rediscovered. Few, if any local German histories are translated into English, thus most family researchers have faced this constant barrier to understanding their German ancestral cultures. Udo Thoerner’s Venne in America has opened a window. The sagas revealed in his book allow one to reconnect with those who made the journey, to understand from where and why they came, as well giving one an emotional connection to the life and struggles of the first generation in America.

Members of these Venne families who emigrated to the United States of Amerika can be found in the book: