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Immigration Archives - Inspection of Italian Emigrants Going to America on German and Italian Steamship Lines

Mr. Bishop to Mr. Peirce


Genoa, Italy, September 22, I903

DEAR SIR: Yours of the 18th instant is received. In reply to your request for information as to the procedure at this consulate with regard to emigrants going to America on the German and Italian lines, I beg to report as follows:

The emigrants from here are chiefly of northern Italian origin. They arrive from their respective districts for the most part by rail. They are met on their arrival by the agents of the particular steamship line by which they are to sail and are taken to the office of the company.

If they are not to sail the same day and very shortly, they are taken to boarding houses approved by the Government authorities, where they are kept at the expense of the company for the twenty-four hours preceding their departure.

These boarding houses are inspected frequently, and especially just before the departures of passenger steamers.

The examination of emigrants is conducted jointly by the health officer attached to the capitaneria (harbor master's department), the surgeon of the vessel, and the royal commissary or inspector sailing in the same, himself usually a doctor. It takes place in the emigrant office of the customhouse, on the Ponte Guglielmo, the pier from which all passenger steamers depart. The examination consists chiefly of a rapid inspection of each emigrant for disease of the eyes, turning over the upper eyelid; of the skin, looking carefully at the scalp; and for hernia, touching the groin.

After the examination, they go immediately on shipboard. They are vaccinated on the ship between this port and their first stop, at Naples. It is done by the surgeon of the vessel and the royal commissary. It consists of scarifying the arm in three places, with a checker-work pattern-that lines and then others crossways on them direct from the cow-is used -- that is, first perpendicular Animal lymph-i. e.,
The emigrants' baggage is inspected, for the steamship companies, by a man authorized by this consulate. He is Giovanni Smith, a son of the proprietor of the well-known Hotel Smith. He has been in this service several years under former consuls and under Dr. Blue, the medical officer at .one time attached to the consulate.

The inspection is made at the pier where the vessel lies and the baggage is afterward put on board.

I may add that the Dominion Line (English) states that it has lately obtained special permission from the Government to consider its passengers from Genoa as embarked only for Naples. Their principal visit of inspection is therefore made at Naples. This line plies to Boston. The managers say that it is very much easier for them in every way to deal with the authorities at Naples than here, where they were much vexed and embarrassed.

Very truly yours,
United States Consul

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