Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Cheap tickets to America! Ads in old newspapers

It was one of the first times I read about emigration to U.S. and other countries in 19th century when I found out a mention about emigration advertisements which were published in Czech newspapers. These ads offered cheap tickets, full service connected to emigration and much more. I never paid to much attention to this until I bumped into one of such ads in old newspapers when looking for another article. 

Not only these ads (some of them are part of this blog post) are interesting, also other documents available online, such as pamphlet Americký vystěhovalec: Spolehlivé zprávy a rady pro české vystěhovalce na cestu do Ameriky (American emigrant: Reliable notes and advices for Czech emigrants for their trip to America) from Josef Pastor. He was employee of the German-American Line in Hambourg and he assisted Czech people during their way over the see - not for free of course... He and his work is described in The story of my life by František J. Vlček which is partially available online on Google Books.

 Cover of Americký vystěhovalec.

Let's take a look on those ads. They most often offered ticket to the ships leaving Hambourg to U.S., railroad tickets from Prague to Hambourg, loans and more. First ad is from 1873 and it shows one of the ships of Hambourg-American Steam-Navigation Company which offered direct lines between Hambourg and U.S. There is a list of their ships available - Allemannia, Alsatia, Bavaria, Borussia, Cimbria and others. Maybe some of them carried your ancestors as well?

There are prices shown in the ad - prices shown in Austrian currency. The cheapest tickets (for tween decks) were for 82 and a half florins (guldens). For your idea - one cow cost about 20 to 30 florins during those days, 100 kilos of corn was for about 5 to 8 florins. 

There were quite many of such ads in old newspapers - and some of them over half of the page of newspapers, such as the following one from 1911. It was an ad of Bohemia bank which provided ship tickets, railroad tickets, money exchange and of course loans. It also had a travel agency (as shown on the next ad from 1913) which provided whole service connected with emigration. 

Bohemia bank ad from 1911

Bohemia bank ad from 1913

Services of such agencies were used by many of people leaving the country - it was easier than to sort everything by themselves. Anyway - some of these offers, mainly those printed in small writing, were false ones and people often lost money because of them. But it's another story...

15 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for posting these. It gives us a glimpse into the life of our ancestors!

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    1. I'm happy it helps you creating the picture!

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  2. Did they mention the streets were paved with gold? I have heard that they actually did that. Good post!!

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    1. Ooooh, of course they mentioned it! It was the basic thing, wasn't it? Streets paved with gold, no need to work and so on and so on. But the immigrants usually used more sources - they believed they will find work in U.S., that they will earn more money...

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  3. Thank you so much for this post! I have seen German ads for my German ancestors, but never for my Bohemian ancestors.

    My ancestor came to the United States in 1854--twenty years before these ads appeared. My guess is that it was much less common then for people to leave Bohemia. Do you know if there were any ads for tickets to the US back then?

    Thanks so much. I really enjoy your blog!

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    1. Same here, 1854. I have wondered the same thing.

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    2. I'll check older journals, magazines and newspapers to see if there were such ads. If so, I'll add another blog post.

      I also think about translating Josef Pastor's pamphlet...

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  4. Wow, this is great! Where can I find these old newspapers to view online? My ancestors came to US in 1873 to port of Galveston Texas and all records are lost so I am having a difficult time trying to find anything. Maybe I could search newspapers for some of these ads in that time period. Any help would be appreciated.

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    1. These old newspapers are available online on http://kramerius.nkp.cz - but the search there is unfortunately only in Czech. I'll collect the links and add them to the post.

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  5. Previous commenter: try the Chronicling America site for free newspapers at the Library of Congress site. Not sure you'll find these ads on this side of the trip, but I love trawling through that archive for fun alone:
    http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/

    Anyway, these ads are great! We have my grandfather's 1907 emigration papers to NY. I have always been amazed at how much handwritten info is on the one document - did they do that for everyone, I wonder?

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/johnjt/5622923770
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/johnjt/5622899032
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/johnjt/5622898910/

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    1. Ooooh, please please please, can I use those photos for a blog post?

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    2. Hi Blanka, Sure - I'd love to see you to use them!

      I know Flickr can be tough to embed linked images to, so I'll email the files to the address on your contact page...

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  6. The Ellis Island website is fantastic and easy to search for your ancestors immigration papers. Many Czechs also came through the port of Baltimore like mine did.

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  7. This is what may have inspired my Great Grandfather to leave their homeland. He and my Great Grandmother, my Grandmother who was a toddler at the time, along with 2 brothers and a sister left from Hamburg in 1889 destination New York. I often imagine what was it that made them decide to come to America. Very fascinating information. I always enjoy reading your blogs. Thank you.

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    1. Thanks, Josie, for sharing this bit from your family history. Yes, these pamphlets and ads definitely had their impact, but what was more important were messages from the previous "generation" of immigrants - they often sent letters describing the conditions in U.S. back to homeland. And who would admit they were hugely disappointed with their choice?

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