This book is a cornerstone in the written history of the German immigration to Pennsylvania. Neither a collection of family histories nor a collection of source records, it is nevertheless an extremely useful book for anyone undertaking research into Pennsylvania-German origins because it explains the background of German immigration, especially Palatine immigration, identifying the causes, the migration patterns, and the leading figures in the movement; describes the ocean voyage, the manner of conveyance, and the disposition of the immigrants; provides an understanding of the methods the Pennsylvania-Germans adopted in acquiring lands; and generally explains the impact of German immigration on American colonization.
The second part of the work, by far the largest and, some would think, the most important, deals with the Redemptioners, those persons who bound themselves into servitude for a term of years in consideration of their passage to America. A significant proportion of the Pennsylvania-German population of Pennsylvania in the 17th and 18th centuries was composed of Redemptioners or derived therefrom. This particular section of the work, therefore, evaluates their role in the development of German settlements in Pennsylvania. First, the several classes of bond servants are dealt with. Then follows a synopsis of the colonial legislation on indentured servants and, subsequently, separate studies on virtually every aspect of the immigration of German Redemptioners, including accounts of their rise, progress, and place in American society.