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How did early immigrants pay for passage??

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Old 17th February 2010, 00:52
dcotsman dcotsman is offline
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How did early immigrants pay for passage??

I have been reading the history of Ukraine and learning that in my grandparents area (western Ukraine/Galicia) they were extremely poor. How did those early immigrants pay for their trains and ships to the US, which must have been very expensive for them?? Are there any good books, etc specifically about the immigrants story??

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Old 18th February 2010, 00:37
Hannia Hannia is online now
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Hello Dave,

The short answer to your question is that any and all property was sold in order to pay for train and ship tickets. Generally one family member would go ahead and work to cover the fare for other members of the family.

Some made their way to the exit harbors and worked there for six months in order to earn enough to pay for tickets.

In the case of families traveling together, upon examination of the ship manifest you will find one family member (husband) had already made the trip at least once.

As the immigration business became competitive, the steamship companies created an all inclusive ticket which was a kind of train to the ship and ship ticket combo.

I have been looking thru University of Minnessota Ukrainian Archives for books of interest.

I came across this link that I thought might be of interest.

Make sure to also read Russian Ohioans section as well.

Ruthenian Ohioans - Ohio History Central - A product of the Ohio Historical Society

Last edited by Hannia; 18th February 2010 at 05:36.
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Old 18th February 2010, 19:12
Tempo Tempo is offline
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How did early immigrants pay for passage?

How did early immigrants pay for passage?

Hi Dave,

You have posed two interesting questions that I have also been seeking answers to.

Folks that study immigration often refer to the term “Chain migration”.

Chain migration is the idea that there exists an established linkage or chain from the point of origin for migrants to their destination. The process of migration is assisted by migrants who already live in the destination. They help their friends and relatives to make the migration by providing them information, money, and place to stay, perhaps a job, and emotional support. People immigrate to locations where they find connections and a measure of familiarity


My grandfather came over in 1903 with 3 other villagers. They were following several dozens of folk who made the trip in prior years. They typically headed to the same area ( southside Pittsburgh/McKees Rocks in my grandfather’s case). Many gave the same address on the ship’s manifest (38 Stuben Street – which was a vacant lot in 1900). There must have been letters sent back to the village by the early pioneers giving instructions and perhaps money for others to emigrate.

One Saturday in 1908 my grandfather and his friend went to downtown Pittsburgh to the Ocean Travelers Bank to wire 1400 Kronin ($290) to three individuals back in the village of Pawlokoma, Galicia. This amounted to about $97per person. This was more than enough to cover the cost of passage for the trip to America. Were they sending the money as repayment for their trip or advancing money for the three to make the journey also? We will never know. What I can tell you is that two of the three individuals show up on ship manifests in 1913. Apparently things did not happen quickly back then It took a decade to complete the cycle.

Regarding your second question about immigration books, I offer the following:

Oscar Handlin, The Uprooted, 2002 University of Pennsylvania Press
Mark Wyman, Round Trip to America, 1993 Cornell University Press

Walter Nugent, Crossings , 1992 Indiana University Press

David M. Brownstone, Irene M. Franck and Douglas Brownstone, Island of Hope, Island of Tears, 2000 Barnes and Noble Books

Images of America Series, Arcadia Publishing - local history books . Try several searches at this location (immigration, Ukrainian etc)

The Ukrainians were obviously not the only ones to immigrate. Check out the following e-book :

Item Display - Immigrant Diaries and Guides - Moving Here, Staying Here. The Canadian Immigrant Experience - Library and Archives Canada

This is a 16 page Irish gem:

Vere Foster, Work and Wages; or, the Penny Emigrant’s Guide, 1885

Your questions only raise more in my mind. How did the immigrants get from the village to the ports in early 20th century? I am still trying to find some good info on the European/Galician railroad network in late 19th century. How did the small villages deal with postal services? The list goes on.

Hope this helps

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Old 20th February 2010, 21:55
Hannia Hannia is online now
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STEERAGE IMMIGRATION especially interesting.

Passenger Lists - Immigration Ships - Historical Archives
Archives of Passenger Lists, Vintage Brochures, Steamships, WW1, WW2, WPA
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Old 20th February 2010, 22:54
Hannia Hannia is online now
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Their Journey to America
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Old 24th March 2010, 18:29
wilko wilko is offline
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In looking at the passenger manifests I've always wondered about this. I think US$50 was the required amount per person entering the US? Any idea what the exchange rate was in the early 1900's? So in addition to paying for one's passage, you also had to have sufficient funds to start your life in the US. I've noticed some persons declaring as much as US$250 on their person.
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