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Scandinavian-American Line History and Ephemera

Det Forenede Dampskibs-Selskab Aktieselskab - The United Steamboat Company Corporation operates as the Scandinavian-American Line.

In the early years, many immigrants from Scandinavia and the Baltic States crossed the ocean to the New World in ships from the Scandinavian-American Line. Favored in the early 20th century, alike by those who crossed the Atlantic for pleasure and for business, the Scandinavian-American Line -- the descriptive name under which the company operated its passenger service between the United States and the Scandinavian countries -- typifies everything that made ocean travel a delight.

Scandinavian-American Line Ephemera in Date Order

Passenger List, Skandinavien-Amerika Linie, SS Hellig Olav, 1905, Copenhagen, Danmark til New York

1905-08-23 SS Hellig Olav Passenger List

  • Class of Passengers: First and Second Cabin
  • Date of Departure: 23 August 1905
  • Route: Copenhagen to New York
  • Commander: Captain J. P. Holst
Passenger List, Skandinavien-Amerika Linie, SS C. F. Tietgen, 1907 Copenhagen til New York

1907-07-04 SS C.F. Tietgen Passenger List

  • Class of Passengers: Cabin
  • Date of Departure: 4 July 1907
  • Route: Copenhagen to New York
  • Commander: Captain A. G. Thomsen
Front Cover, 1912 Brochure "Scandinavia to America," From The Scandinavian-American Line.

1912 Brochure - Scandinavian-American Line - Scandinavia to America

50-Page brochure from the Scandinavian-American Line promoting their service from Scandinavia to New York focused on Third Class accommodations and persuading immigrants to cross the Atlantic on one of their steamships.

Framsida, 1912 Broschyr "Skandinavien till Amerika", från den Skandinavien-Amerika Linien.

1912 Broschyr - Skandinavien-Amerika Linien - Skandinavien och Amerika

50-sidars broschyr från den skandinavisk-amerikanska linjen som främjar deras tjänster från Skandinavien till New York fokuserade på tredje klassens boende och övertalade invandrare att korsa Atlanten på ett av sina ångfartyg.

Passenger List, Skandinavien-Amerika Linie SS United States, 1912, Copenhagen til New York

1912-02-08 SS United States Passenger List

  • Class of Passengers: Not Stated
  • Date of Departure: 8 February 1912
  • Route: Copenhagen to New York
  • Commander: Captain R. Gøtsche
Front Cover, SS Oscar II Dinner Menu - 16 May 1912

1912-05-16 SS Oscar II Dinner Menu

Vintage Dinner Menu from Thursday, 16 May 1912 featured Roast Duck with Potatoes, Soup of Asparagus, and Cream Cake for dessert. Menu printed in Danish and English.

Passenger List, Skandinavien Amerika Linie SS Oscar II, 1914, Copenhagen to New York

1914-08-13 SS Oscar II Passenger List

  • Class of Passengers: First and Second Cabin
  • Date of Departure: 13 August 1914
  • Route: Copenhagen to New York
  • Commander: Captain J. Hempel
Passenger List, Skandinavien Amerika Linien, SS Frederik VIII, 1916

1916-11-14 SS Frederik VIII Passenger List

  • Class of Passengers: First and Second Cabin
  • Date of Departure: 14 November 1916
  • Route: Copenhagen to New York
  • Commander: Captain A. G. Thomsen
Front Cover 1917 Brochure, Scandinavian-American Line Regular Direct Communication Between New York and Scandinavia.

1917 Brochure - Scandinavian-American Line Direct Services

1917 Brochure covers History, Fleet, Accommodations (First, Second and Third Class), Connections at Ports, Information on Scandinavia and Offices and Agencies. Numerous interior photographs make this brochure exceptional.

Front Cover, Passenger List, Scandinavian America Line SS Frederik VIII, 9 December 1919

1919-12-09 SS Frederik VIII Passenger List

  • Class of Passengers: First and Second Cabin
  • Date of Departure: 9 December 1919
  • Route: Copenhagen to New York
  • Commander: Captain A. G. Thomsen, R. AF D., DM
Brochure Cover, Passenger Service to and from Northern Europe by the Scandinavian-American Line.

1920s Brochure - Cabin Service to Northern Europe

16-page brochure from Scandinavian-American Line is devoted to their cabin service to and from Northern Europe. It contains information for passengers about their fleet and cabin accommodation.

Front Cover - Passenger List, Scandinavian-American Line, SS Frederik VIII, 5 August 1920

1920-08-05 SS Frederik VIII Passenger List

  • Class of Passengers: First and Second Cabin
  • Date of Departure: 5 August 1920
  • Route: Copenhagen to New York
  • Commander: Captain R. Gøtsche, R. AF DBG
inner Menu, Scandinavian-American Line SS Frederik VIII, 1920, Second Cabin

1920-08-08 SS Frederik VIII Dinner Menu Card

Vintage Second Cabin Dinner Menu Card from Sunday, 8 August 1920 featured Frankfurter with German Potato Salad, French Marinated Beef Dish (Carbonnade de Boeuf), and Smoked Ham. A Danish menu that emphasizes meat and cheeses to make open faced Danish sandwiches that are very common throughout Denmark and especially Copenhagen.

First and Second Class Passenger List from 1921 for Skandinavien Amerika Linien

1921-08-12 SS Hellig Olav Passenger List

  • Class of Passengers: First and Second Cabin
  • Date of Departure: 12 August 1921
  • Route: Copenhagen to New York
  • Commander: Captain L. F. Peronard
Front Cover - Passenger List, Scandinavian-American Line, SS Hellig Olav, 6 November 1921

1921-11-06 SS Hellig Olav Passenger List

  • Class of Passengers: First and Second Cabin
  • Date of Departure: 6 November 1921
  • Route: Copenhagen to New York
  • Commander: Captain L. F. Peronard
Passenger List Cover

1922-12-12 SS United States Passenger List

  • Ship: SS United States
  • Class of Passengers: Cabin
  • Date of Departure: 12 December 1922
  • Route: Copenhagen to New York
  • Commander: Captain V. Voldborg
Front Cover, SS Hellig Olav Dinner Menu - 25 June 1923

1923-06-25 SS Hellig Olav Dinner Menu

Vintage Cabin Class Dinner Menu from Monday, 25 June 1923 on board the SS Hellig Olav of the Scandinavian-American Line featured Boiled Striped Bass with creamed Horseradish, Roast Loin of Veal Cauliflower à la hollandaise, and Ruben Steiner Cake for dessert. A Music Program was included with the menu.

Front Cover, SS Frederik VIII Luncheon Menu 19 October 1923

1923-10-19 SS Frederik VIII Luncheon Menu

Vintage Luncheon Menu from 19 October 1923 featured Mock Turtle, Roast Duck, and Anchovies for Danish Soup and Sandwiches. Menu printed in Danish Only - Primarily Scandinavian dishes.

Front Cover, SS Frederik VIII Passenger List - 7 February 1924

1924-02-07 SS Frederik VIII Passenger List

  • Class of Passengers: Cabin
  • Date of Departure: 7 February 1924
  • Route: Copenhagen to New York
  • Commander: Captain F. Mechlenburg
Menu Cover, SS Hellig Olav Dinner Menu - 10 May 1924

1924-05-10 SS Hellig Olav Dinner Menu

Vintage Cabin Dinner Menu from 10 May 1924 featured Boiled Salmon, Sauce Mousseline, Calf’s Sweetbread à la Marachale, and Parfait Aida for dessert. The menu was published in Danish and English and included a Music Program.

Front Cover, SS United States Passenger List - 15 May 1924

1924-05-15 SS United States Passenger List

  • Class of Passengers: Cabin
  • Date of Departure: 15 May 1924
  • Route: Copenhagen to New York via Halifax NS
  • Commander: Captain V. Voldborg
Front Cover, SS Oscar II Passenger List - 14 August 1925

1925-08-14 SS Oscar II Passenger List

  • Class of Passengers: Cabin
  • Date of Departure: 14 August 1925
  • Route: Copenhagen to New York
  • Commander: Captain A. J. Schmidt
Brochure Cover for the Scandinavian-American Line Tourist Third Cabin from 1928.

1928-02-01 Scandinavian-American Line Tourist Third Cabin Brochure

8-Page brochure from the Scandinavian-American Line packs a lot of information and interior photographs of their Tourist Third Cabin accommodations, rates of passage, and other information for passengers. Produced by the New York office for American tourists to Europe.

Front Cover, SS Hellig Olav Passenger List - 27 July 1929

1929-07-29 SS Hellig Olav Passenger List

  • Class of Passengers: Cabin
  • Date of Departure: 27 July 1929
  • Route: New York to Copenhagen via Christiansand and Oslo
  • Commander: Captain L. F. Peronard
Front Cover, SS Frederik VIII Passenger List - 29 May 1931

1931-05-29 SS Frederik VIII Passenger List

  • Class of Passengers: Cabin and Tourist Third Cabin
  • Date of Departure: 29 May 1931
  • Route: New York to Copenhagen via Kristiansand and Oslo
  • Commander: Captain F. Mechlenburg

 

Other Ephemera

1932 Brochure: Excursion to Scandinavia, Scandinavian Fraternity of America, Sponsored by Seattle Lodge No. 61. Leave New York on May 28 on board the Scandinavian-American Line flagship Frederik VIII. 12 Panels (Fold Out). Photographs include: SS Frederik VIII, Cabin on Steamer, and other destination scenes.

1913 Hat Ribbon (Cap Tally) Frederik VIII - Gold Lettering on Black Ribbon with Skandinavien Amerika Linen crest on both sides (Logo with flags of Sweden, US, Norway and Denmark (Clockwise).

Neutral Flag: The Scandinavian-American Line (1916)

The neutral flags that sail out of our ports are performing a most essential service in keeping alive our communications with Europe in these war-stricken times.

The various lines operating between New York and Scandinavian points have, with trifling exceptions, kept their service uninterrupted. Their ships are richly laden with freight, and new trade routes spring up overnight.

In these perilous days, their passengers have traversed the seas without serious danger from torpedo or mine.

Three years ago, in an article in the Review on “The Revival of Norway’s Dominion on the Sea,” Director Bryde recounted the inception of the Norwegian America Line and of the Norway-Mexico Gulf Line.

An editorial in the current issue announces the actual inauguration of a new passenger service under the flag of Sweden.

The present article will sketch in brief outline the history of the pioneer in whose wake these lines have followed—the route whose ships wear the red and white cross of Denmark painted bright, on their sides. “The Danish Line” is known officially as the Scandinavian-American Line.

The Scandinavian-American Line is what its name implies—a link between Scandinavia and America. As the pioneer in establishing direct routes for transportation of passengers and freight between the Scandinavian countries and the United States, it justly deserves much credit for the friendly and intimate relations prevailing between these nations.

Then it is living testimony in the hundreds of thousands of sturdy immigrants whom the Line has brought to America during the thirty-five years of its existence, and who are now counted among the best of American citizens.

In the hundreds of thousands of Americanized Scandinavians carried back to their old homes for friendly visits; in the thousands of native American tourists whom the direct route has induced to visit Norway, Sweden, and Denmark and become acquainted with the grandeur and charm of the North.

The Scandinavian-American Line is hut a name given that branch of the service of the United Steamship Company of Copenhagen  (Det Forenede Dampskibsselskab) engaged in the direct New York-Christiansand. Christiania, and Copenhagen route, and particularly to the sender of the four passenger and mail steamers, Oscar II, Hellig Olav, United States, and Frederik VIII.

The United Steamship Company is a Danish organization formed in 1866 by amalgamating several smaller concerns. It commenced business with a fleet of twenty-two steamships having a total register tonnage of 4,919 tons.

In the beginning, only ports of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden were served, but later still other steamship companies were absorbed, and the wise and enterprising management rapidly added more steamers and extended the service to distant ports.

Just before the outbreak of war, this company-owned one hundred and forty-four steamers with a register tonnage of 185,444 tons, and maintained regular service not only to various ports in Denmark and the sister countries of Sweden and Norway, but to ports in Germany and Russia on the Baltic, to Iceland and Faroe Islands, to Scotland, England, Holland, Belgium, France, Portugal, and Madeira, and to various ports on the Mediterranean extending even to the Levant and the Black Sea.

Routes had also been established crossing the Atlantic to Brazil and Argentina in South America and to Galveston, New Orleans, Savannah, Newport News, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York and Boston in North America. Traffic with the Orient, on the other hand, is left to another well-known Danish commercial enterprise, the East Asiatic Company.

Route Map Denmark to New York

Route Map of the Scandinavian-American Line

All American connections are freight routes exclusively, except that, to and from New York, known as the Scandinavian-American Line, which is a regular passenger and mail service between New York and Christiansand, Christiania, and Copenhagen.

This direct passenger service was initially begun in 1880 by the Thingvalla Steamship Company, which after having led a somewhat checkered career was finally taken over about fifteen years ago by the United Steamship Company, which continued the service under the name of the Scandinavian-American Line.

With its usual enterprise and farsightedness caused to be built the steamers SS Oscar II, SS Hellig Olav, and SS United States, each 51.3 feet long and 10,000 tons displacement, and equipped with every safety device, modern comfort, and luxury, and particularly adapted to the demands and requirements of the fastidious Scandinavian passenger.

On these steamers, the first and second cabins are unusually spacious and comfortable. But the most distinctive feature, perhaps, of their appointment is the third class, which provides a degree of comfort formerly unknown in this class of ocean travel.

The open steerage floorplan was abolished, and instead, there was for the first time introduced small cabins for the accommodation of two or four persons, neat dining rooms, and sitting rooms, that have resulted in a continually growing patronage.

The SS Frederik VIII of the Scandinavian-American Line

The SS Frederik VIII of the Scandinavian-American Line

In 1914 the new steamer Frederik VIII made its maiden trip. It is the largest steamer ever built for the Scandinavian service, being 542 feet long, 62 feet wide and 41 feet deep from the upper deck to bottom and displacing 18,000 tons. It is completely equipped with modern appointments, affording a degree of luxury and comfort unsurpassed on any liner of its size afloat.

All of the steamers are particularly well supplied with lifesaving apparatus, providing boats far above the highest number of passengers and crew ever carried; the Frederik VIII has even a motor lifeboat. Two wireless operators are onboard, one always being on duty at sea.

First Cabin Writing Room on the Oscar II and Helig Olav of the Scandinavian-American Line

First Cabin Writing Room on the Oscar II and Helig Olav of the Scandinavian-American Line

Libraries of selected works in the Scandinavian, English, and other European languages are found in each of the three classes. Each steamer carries an orchestra of skilled musicians, and the third class is treated to daily concerts as well as the first. Also, the cuisine is justly famed both for its staying powers and novelties, combining wholesomeness and a high degree of artistic excellence.

The Scandinavian-American Line has always chosen its route to please the tourist. The first port of call in Norway is Christiansand, where a stop is made to land passengers and mail, and where connections are provided for remote Saetersdal, the Norwegian coast, and Southern Norway; the journey is then continued up the beautiful Christiania Fjord to Christiania.

Here a stop of several hours is made, allowing ample time for those continuing on the steamer to Copenhagen to see the capital, inspect the exhumed Viking ships, visit the museums, take a trip up the forest-clad mountainside to the delightful Holmenkollen Hotel and to lunch sumptuously while enjoying a most beautiful view of city, fjord, and surrounding country.

Picturesque Telemarken may be reached from Christiania. Tourists, who intend to visit the North Cape, or the mountains in western and northern Norway, proceed from Christiania to Bergen over the scenic Bergen-Christiania Highland Railway. It will not be necessary to retrace steps after having been to the North Cape, as the journey may be continued by rail through the wooded hills and across the rushing rivers of northern Sweden to Stockholm.

Having inspected the many places of historical interest and visited the numerous art galleries and museums of Sweden’s aristocratic and beautiful capital, and after having made short but interesting trips to Uppsala and Dalarna, or across the Baltic to ruined Visby, the tourist may continue the journey by most comfortable steamers straight across Sweden, past hills and lakes on the Gota Canal to Gothenburg.

This unique trip, which permits many small excursions on foot, while the steamers are going through the locks, to old churches and other points of interest, takes two and a half days. From modern Gothenburg, Sweden’s busiest port, to Copenhagen is but a rail journey of seven hours.

The passenger who elects to continue on his steamer from Christiania arrives after a night’s run in Copenhagen, the largest city of Scandinavia, with its art galleries and museums, and Denmark with its castles and manors, prosperous farms and leafy beech woods, hotels for tourists, and bathing resorts by the sea. Christiania offers rail connection with Finland and Russia, and Copenhagen opens the door to the Continent.

To the dean of the Scandinavian passenger service in this country, Mr. A. E. Johnson is due more than to any other person the awakening of American interest in the possibilities of the North as a tourist land. It was no doubt in recognition of this fact that he was chosen in 1911, with Consul C.A. Smith of Minnesota and California, as one of the two Swedish-born trustees of the American-Scandinavian Foundation.

The passenger department in America for over twenty-five years has been in charge of Messrs. A. E. Johnson & Co., composed of Hon. A. E. Johnson, former Swedish Consul at New York, and Mr. Max Straus. In 1914 Mr. Halvor Jacobsen, a Dane by birth, but in America since early childhood, formerly General Passenger Agent at San Francisco, entered the firm, the name of which was changed to A. E. Johnson & Co., Inc.

Since Mr. Johnson was taken ill in November 1914, the passenger department has been under the exclusive management of Mr. Jacobsen. General offices of the Line arts maintained in New York, and in Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis, San Francisco, and Seattle in Toronto, Ontario, and representatives are found in almost every town and city in the United States and Canada.

“Neutral Flags: The Scandinavian-American Line,” in The American-Scandinavian Review, Volume IV, Number 2, March-April 1916, New York: The American-Scandinavian Foundation, P. 106-110.

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