Discovering La Famiglia: Our Ancestors' Lives in Italy: Arranging Passage

An example of a ticket broker’s poster for steamship passage from Italy to New York. An example of a ticket broker’s poster for steamship passage from Italy to New York.

Over the next few months, we are going to explore our Italian heritage from the perspective of our ancestors’ life experiences. This month our focus will be on how our ancestors arranged for passage to America.

Early on, many immigrants traveled on prepaid tickets purchased by their relatives who were already in America. Later, in many of the larger Italian villages, there were steam ship ticket brokers established as travel to America had become quite common and a lucrative business to be in. There were typically three classes of passenger travel for steam ships: first, second and third. Third was commonly known as steerage and most Italian immigrants sailed via steerage. By the 1900s, the typical steerage ticket cost between $25 and $30. This was a

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