True Immigrant Tales: The Quality of the Food in Steerage

This is an undercover government inspector’s report to the U.S. Immigration Commission about the food served to steerage passengers on a ship that sailed from Europe to Baltimore in 1908. Breakfast always consists of a cereal, coffee, white bread, and either butter or prune jam. In the afternoon coffee and dried bread were served. The … More True Immigrant Tales: The Quality of the Food in Steerage

True Immigrant Tales: Sexual Abuse in Steerage

[This is further testimony about sexual harassment and abuse in steerage class, taken from testimony given by a female government inspector, disguised as an immigrant aboard ship, reporting in 1909 to the Dillingham Immigration Commission.] “There was an outside main deck and an upper-deck on which the steerage were allowed.   These were each about 40 feet wide … More True Immigrant Tales: Sexual Abuse in Steerage

True Immigrant Tales: Sexual Harassment in Steerage

[Unpleasant steerage conditions often extended to sexual harassment and abuse, as described by a female government inspector, disguised as an immigrant aboard ship, reporting in 1909 to the Dillingham Immigration Commission.] “From the moment we boarded the steamer until we landed, no woman in the steerage had a moment’s privacy. One steward was always on … More True Immigrant Tales: Sexual Harassment in Steerage

True Immigrant Tales: Steerage Challenges in Getting Fed

[Steerage conditions varied greatly, depending on the steamship line and the ship’s size, but all were unpleasant to say the least. Below is more testimony from a government inspector, disguised as an immigrant, reporting in 1909 to the Dillingham Immigration Commission about eating facilities on a smaller ship that carried less than 200 immigrants.]             … More True Immigrant Tales: Steerage Challenges in Getting Fed

True Immigrant Tales: Traveling in Steerage

Steerage conditions varied greatly, depending on the steamship line and the ship’s size, but all were unpleasant to say the least. Below is testimony from a government inspector, disguised as an immigrant, reporting in 1909 to the Dillingham Immigration Commission about the poor sanitary conditions on a smaller ship that carried less than 200 immigrants. … More True Immigrant Tales: Traveling in Steerage

True Immigrant Tales: Waiting Without Food and Water

[This is Part 2 of American journal Broughton Brandenburg’s account of a 1903 steamship voyage with immigrants in steerage, taken from his book, Imported Americans.] “. . . In mid-afternoon. . . when we reached the slip at Ellis Island we merely tied up, for there were many barge-loads ahead of us, and we waited our … More True Immigrant Tales: Waiting Without Food and Water

True Immigrant Tales: Reaching the Promised Land

[American journalist Broughton Brandenburg traveled on a German steamship with Italian immigrants in October 1903 and wrote about his observations in his book, Imported Americans.  This is part of his account.] “Sunday fell on the 11th, and it was a pleasant day till afternoon, when it began to get rough. The ship’s band was sent … More True Immigrant Tales: Reaching the Promised Land