The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) announced they have
posted the refugee lists (not passenger lists) from the SS Serpa between
1941 and 1944. Access to the lists is free.
The SS Serpa, was a ship named after a Portuguese explorer and sailing under
the Portuguese flag. During World War ll it became the leading refugee ship
across the Atlantic. The ship left from Lisbon and often stopped in Casablanca
to pick up additional passengers. Each sailing carried about 800 passengers.
The JDC financed or shared in the financing of these trips enabling thousands
of refugees to come to safety: Baltimore, New York, Philadelphia, Canada,
Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Cuba, Mexico etc. Portugal was a neutral country
during World War ll, and therefore, was a destination for Jews trying to flee
Europe to save their lives from the Nazis. Lisbon, Portugal served as the JDC
headquarters during World War ll. It was through the headquarters that the JDC
was able to secure space for refugees on transatlantic vessels .
A page from an SS Serpa Pinto passenger list of March 1944
The lists are available at:
the JDC Names Database are located-scroll down about half way to the "Lists
of Passengers Who Sailed on the SS Serpa Pinto 1941-1944".
The lists are arranged chronologically. Information on the lists include:
names, age, marital status, and religion. If the refugee was headed to the
United States it also listed if they had relatives there. Dates of arrival
in the country of departure is also listed. Some listed their professions.
Many lists also included the refugee's county of birth, prior country of
residence and nationality. The Jews came from throughout Europe: Germany
and Austria prior to Nazi rule; Belgium, the Czech Republic, England,
France, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland.
There were also refugees from Eastern and Southern Europe as well as the
Middle and Near East.
You may also search by name in their JDC Archives Names Index at
To read more see:
A link is also provided to the JGS of New York Dorot article from
Summer 2016 abut the indexing.