Steerage Class - The Immigrant's Journey - GG Archives
Steerage (or Tween Decks) and Third Class was the default choice of many immigrants from the 1850s through the 1930s. The conditions varied by steamship line and was likely to be fairly harsh compared to modern standards. Early steerage often housed hundreds of immigrants in one large room.
Articles about voyages in Steerage
- 1879 - Steerage Accommodations on the Cunard Steamship Line - A British reporter takes a voyage in steerage and reports on the horrible conditions endured by immigrants.
- 1888 - The Immigrant Journey: A Sham Immigrant's Voyage to New York
- 1890 - Life in Steerage, A Transatlantic Voyage
- 1898 - Steerage Conditions in 1898 - A First-Hand Account - Lavishly illustrated article provides an historical account of what a transatlantic voyage in steerage was like.
- 1905 - The Immigrant Journey : The Fellowship of the Steerage - Illustrated with photographs and illustrations. 8 Chapters.
- 1906 - Urgency of Improved Steerage Conditions - A First Hand Account
Steerage and Immigration Articles
- 1871 Steamship Lines from Northern Europe to the United States Various steamship lines are enumerated; with details concerning their management as far as steerage passengers, that is, emigrants, are concerned. Includes Ports of Call and Rates Charged for Steerage.
- 1881 Observation of Steerage on the Cunard Line If our naval architects who seek distinction in rendering vessels shot-proof, would give attention to rendering them discomfort, proof for the emigrants who crowd the steerage, it would be a great blessing.
- 1890 America's Open Gate: Castle Garden May Cease To Be The Immigrant's Landing
- 1904 Immigrants and the Steamship Steerage Rate Wars - Steerage fares reduced from $25 to $10 from several European ports
- 1906 An Interview with The Commissioner of Immigration - Includes tables of facts of Admitted, Rejected and Debarred immigrants.
- 1907 Improvements in Conditions in Steerage Class and Increased Head Tax - With the improvement in the steerage, which has taken place within the last few years, many companies have dropped the name steerage and now designate it as the "third class."
- 1909 Women in Steerage - Conditions called Appalling - Newspaper account provides insight of traveling in Steerage a the turn of the century.
- 1910 Abuses Among Emigrant Passengers - Brief but informative report
- 1911 Steerage Conditions - A Report of the Immigration Commission - Excellent summary of the conditions and history of steerage.
- 1913 Steerage Conditions on Steamships - The Cotterill Report offers an in depth look at conditions at the time of the Titanic
- The Steerage Passenger - Conditions circa 1913 Contrasted with Old Steerage Conditions.
- 1916 Immigrants to the Melting Pot - The Hopes of the Hyphenated - Richly illustrated report offers and extensive look at immigrants and steerage.
Steerage Passenger List (Example)
- 1894-08-28 Steerage Passenger List, North German Lloyd S. S. Lahn, Bremen to New York
Steerage Passage for Five Dollars
“There was keen competition at this time.” Said Mr. Williams, “and I have known steerage passage to America to be given for a single sovereign—live dollars.”
The food was excellent in those days on the Atlantic liners, but very poor in the Mediterranean service, according to Mr. Williams. He ascribed this to the fact that the American steamers were victualed by the company, while those plying through the Straits of Gibraltar were victualed by the captain, who received an appropriate allowance—and. apparently, did not expend it as judiciously as he might have done.
Mr. Mclver, one of the directors in the early days of the Cunard Line, happened to be at Malta on one occasion, when there was a great deal of complaining going on. He instituted an inquiry and things were soon put right.
It was while Mr. Williams was serving in the Algeria, in the “seventies,” that she burst a boiler tube one day out from Queenstown, westbound. He was then boilermakers mate, and it fell to his lot to plug up the burst tube. To do this he had to crawl through the furnace into the smoke-box, and, the fire having only just been drawn, no great imagination is required to picture his condition when he had finished the job. He had to be carried on deck, dosed with grog and put to bed for twenty-four hours. On the ship’s arrival in New York, the “chief” sent for Mr. Williams, and gave him a sovereign and a day off in which to spend it.
“This,” concluded the veteran “shows that the Cunard Line knew how to treat its men, even in those long-departed days!”
Reported by the Shipping Magazine: Marine Transportation, Construction, Equipment and Supplies, New York: Shipping Publishing Co, Volume 15, No. 5, March 10, 1922 p.14