2 Replies Latest reply on Dec 9, 2021 1:30 PM by Josette Schluter

    How did immigrants exchange German money for US money?

    steve storch Newbie

      I have come across several documents that my family immigrants had German (guilders) or French money when they left Europe. How did they convert that to usable money in US?   In NY City? Banks?   Does anyone have a reference book for this?


      See Money Exchange for 1850 Immigrants- Question part 2 for more

        • Re: How did immigrants exchange German money for US money?
          Alice Lane Ranger

          Hi Steve,

          Welcome to History Hub,

          The Immigrant Journey | Ellis Island | Oh, Ranger! (ohranger.com)

          See Below from the above webpage concerning money exchange at Ellis Island

          Step Four: Beyond Ellis Island

          Those with landing cards pinned on their clothes next moved to the Money Exchange. Here six cashiers exchanged gold, silver and paper money, from countries all over Europe, for American dollars, based on the day’s official rates, which were posted on a blackboard.

          For immigrants traveling to cities or towns beyond New York City, the next stop was the railroad ticket office, where a dozen agents collectively sold as many as 25 tickets per minute on the busiest days. Immigrants could wait in areas marked for each independent railroad line in the ferry terminal. When it was reasonably near the time for their train’s departure, they would be ferried on barges to the train terminals in Jersey City or Hoboken. Immigrants going to New England went on the ferry to Manhattan.

          All that remained was to make arrangements for their trunks, which were stored in the Baggage Room, to be sent on to their final destinations.

          Finally! With admittance cards, railroad or ferry passes and box lunches in hand, the immigrants’ journey to and through Ellis Island was complete. For many it had begun months or even years before. Some, of course, still had more traveling ahead of them—to the rocky shores of New England, to the great plains of the Midwest or to the orange groves of California.

          But whatever lay ahead, in their hearts they could read the invisible sign that proclaimed, “Welcome to America.”

          For information on Ellis Island immigration records covering 1892–1924, please visit the American Family Immigration History Center® at the Ellis Island Immigration Museum and online at ellisisland.org. For Ellis Island immigration records after 1924, contact the National Archives, Northeast Region, 201 Varick Street, 12th Floor, New York, NY 10014; call (866) 840-1752 or (212) 401-1620; or visit nara.gov.

          Alice Lane

          Research Volunteer

          • Re: How did immigrants exchange German money for US money?
            Josette Schluter Tracker

            Dear Mr. Storch,

            Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!


            Documentation of immigrants entering the United States varied significantly from 1789-1819 because there was not a singular entity creating and maintaining records of immigrants. Until January 1820, the United States government did not require passenger lists, but the new Steerage Act of 1819 required the master of a ship to provide a manifest of passengers that boarded at foreign ports. In the case of the port of New York, immigrant processing centers were not established until the creation of Castle Garden in 1855 and then Ellis Island in 1890. Due to this fact, many newly arriving immigrants would have been susceptible to whatever money changers were available at the port, or would have had to wait until they found a bank willing to exchange their currency. 


            We hope this is helpful. Best of luck with your family research!