Database of transatlantic voyages, 1900-1914

The “Voyage Database” for migration across the North Atlantic was constructed as part of the research for the book, The Business of Transatlantic Migration, between Europe and the United States, 1900-1914, and related articles. Its most important information was derived from


1) Voyage and passenger records from “Reports of the Trans-Atlantic Passenger Movement,” Transatlantic Passenger Conferences, New York, 1899-1914 [PCR], which were compiled from daily records of the “landing agent” or “boarding agent” at U.S. ports, and later released to and published by governmental authorities and newspapers. The comprehensive PCR time series used here lists each vessel arrival and departure by date, by shipping line, and by European and U.S. port, beginning in 1899.


2) Vessel, shipping company and other data compiled by shipping line administrators, accountants, chroniclers and catalogers, of which the most important is N. R. P. Bonsor, North Atlantic Seaway (1975-1980).


Other sources used in the Voyage Database include the annual reports of the U. S. Commissioner of Navigation, Lloyd’s Register, U.S. Bureau of Immigration reports, contemporary newspaper articles, and many other archival and secondary published sources.


In its primary form, the Voyage Database is a large Excel spreadsheet used to analyze many aspects of the transatlantic migration business, and comprising:


a) 18 thousand rows covering all voyages of regularly scheduled passenger liners between New York, Boston, Baltimore and Philadelphia and all European ports, from July 1, 1899 to June 30, 1914. This time period encompasses the (January-to-December) calendar years 1900-1913 and the U.S. government (July-to-June) fiscal years 1900-1914.


b) over sixty columns of data from the PCR records (including, for every voyage, the line, ship, European and U.S ports, U.S. arrival and departure dates and passenger totals in first, second and third class in each direction) and from shipping catalogers (such as vessel size, speed, builder, passenger capacities, ownership information and retrofitting details, and, where available, crew, cargo capacities, coal consumption, and statistics breaking down steerage (third class) capacity into closed berths versus open berths).


c) flows between Europe and New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. U.S. Bureau of Immigration reports show that these four ports received 89% of all immigrants to the United States from anywhere during 1900-14 and 93% of all immigrants from Europe. The four large ports covered by the Voyage Database also account for about 60% of the entire transatlantic migration flow (across the North and South Atlantic) in those years. 86% of passengers on these voyages were migrants. 99% of migrant passengers on the Voyage Database voyages travelled in the second and steerage class. Half of second class and steerage passengers travelled on travelled on one sixth of the ships, the “Express” vessels (Keeling, “Business of Transatlantic Migration,” pp. 272, 281, 286, Keeling, “Capacity”, pp. 242-45).



KEY FINDINGS from the 1900-14 Voyage Database