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When did passenger ships first have an on board duty-free shop?

When did passenger ships first have an on board duty-free shop?

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According to several sites, the first duty-free shop opened at Shannon Airport in Ireland in 1947, since when duty-free shopping has become an enormous international business even though some airlines have discontinued sales on flights.

Finding any references to duty-free shops on passenger ships has proved much more difficult, though. According to these (un-referenced) Quora posts, there was no duty-free shop on the Titanic (but one of the answers gets the date and place of the first duty-free shop wrong).

The only other information I have is from childhood: I remember duty-free shops on the DFDS ships MS Winston Churchill and MS England on the Harwich (England) - Esbjerg (Denmark) route in the early 1970s. While I was plundering the liquorice supplies, my parents were stocking up on more 'standard' duty-free items (alcohol, cigars / cigarettes, perfume). MS England's last round trip on this route was in July 1974, but I can't say how long before that there was a duty-free shop.

personal hygiene requirements in the crowded space of a small ship or horse-drawn coach were probably the origin of today's allowances for perfume. But even when duty free sales started to become more formal, the progress from “sustenance” towards the idea of “personal export” was a slow one.

To clarify, I'm not interested in diplomatic or military special privileges mentioned in the article above, but in duty-free shops for ordinary people looking for some of the aforementioned "personal export" while en route from one country to another.

In anticipation that the line between "sustenance" and "personal export" might be a little blurred, information on the former would also be of interest.

Brendon O'Regan's idea for airport duty-free shops came from one on the S.S. America.

sailing on a return voyage from the U.S to Ireland aboard the ocean liner S.S.America. “I discovered that I could buy duty-free goods aboard the ship. I thought: Wouldn't this be an excellent idea if we could idea if we could implement such a duty-free service at Shannon Airport.” Upon his return O'Regan secured the enabling legislation establishing a no-man's land tax zone at the airport and the world's first duty-free shop opened in 1947.

I don't know if there was anything before this but I thought this might be of interest. I don't even know for sure what the date for Brendan O'Regan's trip was but it was obviously before 1947, maybe 1946 after it was returned to civilian service after WW2 (see Wikipedia S.S. America).

New York 1820-1957

  • Online Index: New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 (at Ancestry/requires payment) name index plus passenger list images from the National Archives microfilm - includes the Barge Office, Castle Garden and Ellis Island years

New York 1820-1846

New York 1820-1897 (includes Castle Garden, the Barge Office, and Ellis Island)

  • Online Database: New York Passenger Lists Online Index and Images 1820-1957 (at Ancestry/requires payment) includes digitized images of the passenger lists from the National Archives microfilm
  • Online Database: New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1891, index and images (free with registration) at FamilySearch (books and online database) (books and online database) (books and an online database) includes Russians, Finns, Poles and Germans from Russia (books or online database) lists of New York ship arrivals by name of ship and date of arrival (no passengers are listed)

New York 1897-1948

  • ONLINE INDEX: Ellis Island Database 1892-1924 - tips and information
  • ONLINE INDEX: New York Passenger Lists Online Index and Images 1820-1957 (at Ancestry/requires payment) includes digitized images of the passenger lists from the microfilm
  • MICROFILM (now digitized): Index to Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, June 16, 1897-June 20, 1902 (NARA & FHL Microfilm Numbers) (NARA Publication T519 115 rolls)
  • MICROFILM (now digitized): Index (Soundex) to Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, July 1, 1902-December 31, 1943 (NARA & FHL Microfilm Numbers) (NARA Publication T621 755 rolls)
  • MICROFILM (now digitized): Index (Soundex) to Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, 1944-1948 (NARA Microfilm Numbers) (NARA Publication M1417 94 rolls)

Baltimore 1820-1950s

  • ONLINE INDEX: Baltimore Passenger Lists Online Index 1820-1948 and 1954-1957 (at Ancestry/requires payment)
    includes digitized images of the passenger lists from the National Archives microfilm
  • MICROFILM (now digitized): Index (Soundex) to Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Baltimore, MD, 1820-1897 (NARA & FHL Microfilm Numbers) (NARA Publication M327 171 rolls)
  • Alternate Microfilm Index (now digitized): If your ancestor arrived at Baltimore from 1833-1866 and you did not find anything in the main index listed above, then you could also try searching this index, which is for the separately kept Baltimore City Passenger Lists. Index (Soundex) to Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Baltimore, MD (City Passenger Lists), 1833-1866 (NARA & FHL Microfilm Numbers) (NARA Publication M326 22 rolls)
  • MICROFILM (now digitized): Index (Soundex) to Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Baltimore, MD, 1897-1952 (NARA & FHL Microfilm Numbers) (NARA Publication T520 43 rolls)

Boston 1820-1963

Galveston, Texas

New Orleans 1820-1952

  • ONLINE INDEX: New Orleans Passenger Lists Index and Images 1820-1945 (at Ancestry/requires payment)
  • MICROFILM: Index to Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New Orleans, LA, 1853-1899 (NARA & FHL Microfilm Roll Numbers) (NARA Publication T527 32 rolls)
  • MICROFILM: Index to Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New Orleans, LA, 1900-1952 (NARA & FHL Microfilm Numbers) (NARA Publication T618 22 rolls)
  • For a detailed guide about finding New Orleans passenger lists see: Finding Passenger Arrival Records at the Port of New Orleans, Louisiana

Philadelphia 1800-1948

  • ONLINE INDEX: Philadelphia Passenger Lists - Index and Images 1800-1945 (at Ancestry/requires payment) includes digitized images of the passenger lists from the microfilm
  • MICROFILM: Index to Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Philadelphia, PA, 1800-1906 (NARA & FHL Microfilm Numbers) (NARA Publication M360 151 rolls)
  • MICROFILM: Index (Soundex) to Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Philadelphia, PA, January 1, 1883-June 28, 1948 (NARA & FHL Microfilm Numbers) (NARA Publication T526 61 rolls)

Other Ports

  • Various Ports (1820-1873): Miscellaneous Atlantic, Gulf Coast and Great Lakes Ports 1820-1873 (with links to indexes, online and off)
  • Various Ports (1890s-1940s): Miscellaneous Atlantic Ports Passenger Lists 1890s-1940s Online index and digitized images of the passenger lists (at Ancestry/requires payment) includes the following ports.
    • Bridgeport, New Haven, and New London, Connecticut 1929-1959
    • Gloucester, Massachusetts 1906-1942
    • New Bedford, Massachusetts 1901-1942
    • Portland, Maine 1893-1943 (plus 1 list from 1891)
    • Providence, Rhode Island 1911-1943
    • Savannah, Georgia 1906-1945

    Don't Know Which Port?

    Ancestry's Immigration Records Collection

    • ONLINE DATABASE: Ancestry's Immigration Records Collection (requires payment) Includes ship passenger indexes (many with online digitized images from the microfilm) for New York (1820-1957), Boston (1820-1943), Baltimore (1820-1948 and 1954-1957), Philadelphia (1800-1945), New Orleans (1820-1945), San Francisco (1893-1953), and many smaller ports, plus some Canadian passenger lists and border crossings, and some US naturalization records.

    FamilySearch's Migration and Naturalization Records Collection

    • ONLINE DATABASES: FamilySearch's Migration and Naturalization Records Collection (free) includes digitized microfilm and indexes for some of the items listed above.

    Other Resources

    • Supplementary Resource: Passenger and Immigration Lists Index (at Ancestry/requires payment) a Guide to Published Arrival Records of. Passengers Who Came to the United States and Canada in the 17th, 18th, and 19th Centuries edited by P. William Filby Published by Gale Research Co, Detroit, MI (1981-ongoing) Originally published as a book series in 3 volumes with annual supplements, this database indexes numerous sources of some passenger arrivals, naturalizations and other immigrant resources. You may be able to find the books at a library.
    • BOOK: Swedish Passenger Arrivals in the United States 1820-1850 by Nils William Olsson and Erik Wikén, published by Schmidts Boktryckeri AB, 1995 indexed
      This well researched book documents about 5000 Swedish immigrants who came to the US from 1820-1850. Information given for each person includes age, sex, name of ship, date of arrival, and ports of arrival and departure. A brief bio is also given for many of the passengers or families.
    • If you don't know when or where your ancestor arrived you should first do some basic genealogy research. Use this website's Basic Research Outline. Talk to your relatives. Compile as much information as you can. Then research church, census and vital records. These kinds of records can give you clues as to when your immigrant ancestor arrived and sometimes where he or she came from. Post-1906 Naturalization Records almost always give arrival details for the person. You can usually find the year of immigration for someone in the 1900, 1910, 1920 and 1930 US Federal Census Records.

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    Duty-Free Allowance

    The following guidelines pertain to U.S Residents only. Non-U.S Residents must comply with Customs laws set-up by the Customs Office in their particular country. Specific information will be provided on board the ship.

    Guests who have exceeded the allowance listed below are required to complete one U.S Customs Declaration Form, per household which includes those family members traveling with them who reside at the same address. Guests who have not exceeded the allowance listed below are not required to complete a form .

    The Head of Household must declare all merchandise purchased or acquired abroad and which he/she is bringing back into the United States. That includes items purchased in duty-free shops (on board) and in port as well as items received as gifts. It also includes items the guests have begun to use or are wearing. All purchases must be listed on the back of the U.S. Customs declaration form*. Undeclared merchandise is subject to seizure and/or penalty. If the family has exceeded the U.S. Customs exemptions, the Head of Household must present him or herself with receipts to the U.S Customs Border and Protection officers on the last morning of the cruise. Cash is only accepted for payment of additional taxes exceeding the Duty-Free allowance.

    Duty-Free Allowance for U.S Residents

    Itineraries that include any of U.S Virgin Islands (St Thomas, St Croix and St John)

    • $1600 (retail) of duty-free purchases per person may be spent. No more than $800 can be purchased outside the U.S Virgin Islands or onboard
    • One liter of alcohol per person and an additional four liters if purchased in the U.S Virgin Islands one of the additional liters must be a product of the U.S Virgin Islands (guest must be at least 21 years old)
    • One carton of cigarettes and an additional four cartons if purchased in the U.S Virgin Islands (guest must be at least 21 years)
    • One hundred cigars (guest must be at least 21 years old)

    All other domestic itineraries

    • $800 (retail) of duty-free purchases per person may be spent
    • One liter of alcohol per person (guest must be at least 21 years old)
    • One carton of cigarettes (guest must be at least 21 years old)
    • One hundred cigars (guest must be at least 21 years old)

    Registering Valuables Before Leaving Home
    It is recommended that guests register their valuables with Customs before leaving home. This should be done well in advance of travel at a Customs office near home. Items that should be registered generally include those not manufactured in their country. If the guest cannot prove that they own an item prior to departure, Customs officials may charge them duty to bring the item back into the country. Customs pays particular attention to cameras (including special lenses and video equipment), binoculars, radios, laptop computers, foreign-made watches and other similar appliances.

    The Titanic Second Class Passengers

    For more information on the Titanic second class passengers and other info about the 20th century maritime history of the North Atlantic, see The Hunt for Hitler’s Warship © 2015 by Patrick Bishop. It is available now from Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

    The Titanic second class passengers enjoyed a level of luxury that rivaled that of first class on other liners. Titanic was also the first ship to have an electric elevator for second-class passengers.

    A second-class ticket cost about £13

    The following passengers are the most well known second-class travelers.

    The U-Boat Campaign That Almost Broke Britain

    From the start of the First World War in 1914, Germany pursued a highly effective U-boat campaign against merchant shipping. This campaign intensified over the course of the war and almost succeeded in bringing Britain to its knees in 1917.

    At first, U-boats obeyed 'prize rules', which meant that they surfaced before attacking merchant ships and allowed the crew and passengers to get away. This left U-boats vulnerable to attack, especially after the British introduced ‘Q-ships’ – disguised warships with hidden guns intended to lure U-boats in close and then sink them. The use of Q-ships contributed to Germany’s eventual abandonment of prize rules.

    On 4 February 1915, Germany declared a war zone around Britain, within which merchant ships were sunk without warning. This 'unrestricted submarine warfare' angered neutral countries, especially the United States. The tactic was abandoned on 1 September 1915, following the loss of American lives in the torpedoed liners Lusitania and Arabic.

    After failing to seize control of the sea from the British at the Battle of Jutland in 1916, Germany resumed unrestricted submarine warfare on 1 February 1917. This, coupled with the Zimmermann Telegram, brought the United States into the war on 6 April. But the new U-boat blockade nearly succeeded and between February and April 1917, U-boats sank more than 500 merchant ships. In the second half of April, an average of 13 ships were sunk each day.

    In November 1916, Admiral Jellicoe created an Admiralty Anti-Submarine Division, but effective countermeasures arrived slowly. Most important was the introduction of convoys, in which merchant ships were grouped together and protected by warships. In addition, merchant ships were painted in dazzle camouflage, aircraft and shore-based direction finding stations were introduced to locate U-boats, and warships acquired new weapons such as an early form of sonar and depth charges. On 23 April 1918, British naval forces attacked U-boat bases at Ostend and Zeebrugge. By the Armistice, the U-boat threat had been neutralised.

    • The development of steam ships in the 19th century led to ever more luxurious vessels taking to the seas
    • Elite liners would offer wealthy guests lavish parties and fine dining in their ballrooms and games on the decks
    • Cunard's first gymnasium at sea on The Franconia in 1911 enabled guests to keep in shape while on board

    Published: 08:11 BST, 17 September 2015 | Updated: 06:04 BST, 18 September 2015

    These fascinating images show the golden age of cruising where lavish balls, tug-of-war on the deck and working out in suits appeared to be the order of the day.

    The development of steam ships in the 19th century led to ever more luxurious vessels taking wealthy guests on glamorous breaks.

    From taking part in deck games to wooden-horse racing in the evenings, guests on board these elite liners would dress to the nines during their time on the seven seas.

    Passengers in formal dress relax on one of Cunard's liners as they listen to a piano performance while at sea

    Passengers on board the Cunard cruise liner Franconia engage in a friendly game of tug-of-war on deck, with delighted onlooking children

    Sporting entertainment: Passengers playing a net game on the decks of transatlantic ocean liner SS Europe in 1938

    For the first time in 1911 guests could exercise on their cruises. The Franconia was the first ship to have a sundeck and gymnasium (pictured)

    Workers cleaning the Empress of Australia liner at Southampton dock following the ship's return from a Mediterranean cruise in May 1932

    One of the leaders in modern cruise holidays was P&O Cruises, which started advertising tours to destinations such as Gibraltar, Athens and Malta, from Southampton in 1844.

    As the ships got larger and faster, the point of cruising no longer was just about reaching a location - it focused on the journey.

    Other companies, such as Hamburg-America Line, started to send passengers on tours in 1891.

    One of the first was a Mediterranean trip for 241 guests, covering destinations such as Alexandria, Beirut and Constantinople.

    Who were the original 102 passengers on board the Mayflower?

    The voyage of the Mayflower to the New World was a long, gruelling and often painful one. Her passengers huddled within the leaking, cramped, storm-lashed ship, enduring seasickness and uncertainty for 10 long weeks before they landed at modern-day Massachusetts. But, while the reality of the journey may have been far from glamorous, the story of the passengers and the colony they founded has become one of the most fabled origin stories of the United States. So much so, many pride themselves on being descendants of the roughly 132 people who set sail from Plymouth, Devon.

    In a time when all of us can easily start charting the histories of our families using Ancestry, it’s particularly tantalising to know that around 35 million people around the world can trace their lineage back to the Mayflower passengers. But just who were these intrepid voyagers whose lives would steer the course of the continent they risked their lives to reach?

    A good proportion of the passengers were radical Puritan separatists, who – disenchanted with the Protestant Reformation and the Church of England – wanted to establish a new community where they could live without fear of persecution. One of these Puritans was William Brewster, a former postmaster from Nottinghamshire whose own home became a refuge and place of worship for fellow Puritans. Brewster, who had been educated at Cambridge and worked for a time alongside one of Elizabeth I’s diplomats, eventually led some of his followers to a new life in Holland, which was known for its more accepting religious climate.

    Once there, Brewster published incendiary books that agitated against the Church of England, making him a marked man in the eyes of the English ruling elite. Somehow managing to evade being arrested and punished, Brewster would become the elder religious leader of the Mayflower Pilgrims, described by a fellow Puritan as ‘tender-hearted and compassionate’.

    He travelled on the ship alongside his wife Mary Brewster and sons Love and Wrestling Brewster. His daughter Patience Brewster would join the family in the New World a few years later – one of her direct descendants was the iconic crooner and film star Bing Crosby. Another daughter, Fear, arrived with Patience, and one of her descendants was the 12th US President, Zachary Taylor. Other well-known people who can trace their lineage back to the Brewsters include Hollywood star Richard Gere and Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane.

    A particularly prominent Puritan on board the Mayflower was William Bradford, who hailed from Yorkshire and had been a member of Brewster’s renegade congregation in Nottinghamshire. Like Brewster, Bradford also lived in Holland for a time, before the pivotal voyage to America took place. Bradford was a key member of exploration parties who set off to explore possible locations for a settlement while others stayed behind on the anchored Mayflower. It was while he was away on one of these reconnaissance trips that his wife Dorothy fell overboard and drowned.

    Bradford would go on to become a Governor of Plymouth Colony and write the most famous account of the Pilgrims’ early years (which would earn him the accolade the 'father of American history'). He would also remarry, to another Pilgrim named Alice. Through one of their sons, William and Alice are the distant ancestors of movie stars Clint Eastwood and Christopher Reeve, and of photography entrepreneur George Eastman, founder of the Kodak company. One of the most noteworthy Mayflower passengers wasn’t a Puritan at all. He was Myles Standish, a soldier – possibly from Lancashire – who was hired by the Pilgrims to be their military coordinator in the New World. This proved to be a sound investment, as Standish proved a tough and resourceful explorer, forming a close working partnership with William Bradford and keeping morale up during the first harsh winter which saw many of the Pilgrims die – including Standish’s own wife Rose.

    Known for his fiery personality, Standish played a decisive role in securing the colony and both negotiating with, and battling against, indigenous tribes. Another reason his name has stayed with us over the centuries is his starring role in a 19th Century poem, The Courtship of Miles Standish, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. This highly romanticised chronicle of the Mayflower adventure focuses on a supposed love triangle involving Standish and two other passengers, John Alden and Priscilla Mullins, whose descendants would be among the most important in US history.

    Alden, whose place of birth in England is unclear, had been hired to be a crewman on the Mayflower. Priscilla Mullins, of Surrey, travelled on the Mayflower with her father – a prominent businessman – and other members of her family, all of whom perished soon after they settled in the New World. Although Longfellow’s poem is generally dismissed as complete fiction, John Alden and Priscilla Mullins were indeed wed – Longfellow himself was one of their descendants through their daughter Elizabeth.

    Meanwhile, through another daughter named Ruth, John and Priscilla’s lineage would include John Adams, Founding Father and second US President, and John Quincy Adams, the sixth US President. The sheer number of people alive today whose genetic roots can be traced back to the Mayflower’s passengers means that interest in the ship remains as high as it’s ever been, with the Mayflower Society an active organisation committed to researching the descendants of the Pilgrims. If this has helped inspire a curiosity about your own family tree, why not use Ancestry’s resources to find out more? After all, while the Archives on Ancestry don’t stretch as far back as the Mayflower, there’s no telling what revelations lie in wait when you start piecing together the secrets of your family’s past.

    Lotte Duty Free

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    US History

    The RMS Titanic. Photo by F.G.Q. Stuart.

    The RMS Titanic was a British cruise ship that sank on April 15, 1912 during its first voyage from England to New York. Over 1,500 people died.

    The World's Biggest Ship

    When the Titanic left England, it was the largest ship in the world. It was 882 feet long, over 100 feet tall, and had 10 levels. It was so large and well-built that it was touted as being "unsinkable."

    At the time, the Titanic was considered one of the safest ships ever built. It had all sorts of safety features. Its hull had two layers of steel to help prevent leaks. It also had 16 compartments that could be sealed off using watertight steel doors. If the ship sprung a leak, the doors would close keeping the ship from sinking.

    The Titanic was built using the best technology of the time including two giant steam engines and a turbine that provided 46,000 horse power. It took over two years and 15,000 workers to build the Titanic.

    The ship had the facilities to support up to 2,453 passengers and 900 crew. The first class area was decorated more like a fancy hotel than a ship. There was a swimming pool, gymnasium, barber shop, library, several cafes, and a squash court.

    Route taken by the Titanic.
    Approximate location of where the ship sank.
    Source: Wikimedia Commons

    The Maiden Voyage Begins

    The Titanic departed from Southampton, England on April 10, 1912. It then stopped at the French port of Cherbourg and the Irish port of Queenstown to pick up more passengers. It left Queenstown and began its fateful trip across the Atlantic Ocean on April 11, 1912.

    Despite being warned of the potential of icebergs in the northern waters, the Titanic continued across the Atlantic at full speed. However, a giant iceberg was spotted by a lookout in the path of the Titanic on the night of April 14. The captain tried to steer around the iceberg, but it was too late. The iceberg hit the side of the ship.

    The Ship Begins to Sink

    The Titanic had been designed to withstand almost anything. However, the designers didn't consider what would happen if an iceberg hit the side. As the ship scraped along the side of the iceberg, it ripped several holes into the side the ship. Five of the ships 16 compartments began to fill with water. This was too many. It soon became clear that the ship would sink.

    Not Enough Life Boats

    The ship's crew began to get people aboard the lifeboats. They quickly discovered that there were not enough lifeboats for all the passengers. The ship was designed to carry 32 lifeboats, but there were only 20 on board. Also, in their panic, many of the lifeboats left the Titanic only half full. Women and children were put on the lifeboats first, leaving many fathers and husbands behind on the sinking ship.

    Newspaper report on the distaster
    Author: New York Herald
    A life vest from the Titanic
    at the Smithsonian

    Photo by Ducksters

    The Titanic sank at 2:20 AM on April 15, 1912. It took quite a while for the closest ships to come to their rescue. The waters were very cold and some people who didn't drown ended up dying from exposure. While over 700 people did survive, more than 1,500 died.

    U.S. Immigration History

    Between 1820-1840, seventy percent of immigrants were German, Irish, or English. Immigration from Germany in particular spiked between 1847 and 1855, with a combination of political upheaval, crop failures, and an increasing scarcity of land unfit to accommodate the rising population.

    Irish immigration to the U.S. from Ulster County spiked in the early 1770s on the eve of the Revolutionary War. Irish passengers to America in the years of the early republic was the result of a handful of economic factors, like high taxes, currency manipulation, skyrocketing farm rents, and low crop prices. Though this era pre-dated the Steerage Act, indexes of Irish arrivals in America have been published that draw from passenger lists which appeared in Irish newspapers, notably The Shamrock, or Hibernian Chronicle.

    The next major Irish wave was the result of the infamous potato famine, which appeared by dubious origins as a splotchy white fungus in 1845, and continued to ruin the normally high yielding potato crop which a many farmers relied on for livelihood. The famine continued through 1848, while the farm economy of Ireland depended very little, if at all, on other or alternative crops. In 1845, the population of the country was about 8.5 million. In 1851, because of starvation, disease, and migration, the population plummeted to 6.5 million people.

    During a brief, inflammatory period of months in 1848, mass uprisings by the working class against monarchial regimes ignited across Central and Western Europe. The famous revolution of 1848, the same year gold was discovered in California, was brief, forceful, and, as the historian Eric Hobsbawm said, “within six months of its outbreak, its universal defeat was safely predictable.”

    When oppressor regimes were soon reinstated, much of the disenfranchised laboring and peasant classes had cause to flee, spurring immigration to the U.S., a nation where the government had only recently formed as a result of revolution, and which appeared to disavow social class and promise democratic voice to all citizens, in addition to an equal process of citizenship to aliens.

    There was an old Italian anecdote about the immigrant en route to America, expecting streets paved with gold, who learns three things upon arrival. “The streets weren’t paved with gold they weren’t paved at all and I was expected to pave them.”

    In 1882, the Chinese Exclusionary Act banned Chinese women and children from entering the country and restricted males to diplomats, students, and businessmen.

    After the 1881 assassination of Czar Alexander II in Russia, government retaliation inaugurated a series of pogroms against Jewish populations in the Ukraine and Bessarabia, today Moldova. This was followed by laws discriminating against Jewish land ownership, known as the May Laws. Major flight of Russian Jews characterized the 1880s and 1890s. In all, about 2.3 million people from the Russian Empire migrated to the United States between 1871 and 1910—among them Lithuanians, Poles, Latvians, Finns, and Ukrainians. A bulk of these migrants sailed to the U.S. from the ports in Hamburg or Bremen.

    In Italy, a migration boom occurred roughly between 1871, ten years after the Unification of Northern and Southern Italy, and 1915, when a German submarine attacked and sank the Lusitania, a British ocean liner, sparking the United States to eventually enter World War I. A bulk of migrants left the south of Italy, known as the Mezzogiorno, where by the 1880s birth rates were high while death rates were falling. Between 1880 and 1887, Argentina was the prime destination for immigrants from the Mezzogiorno from 1888 to 1897, it was Brazil and after 1898, the United States, which in the early twentieth century was the landing place for 65 percent of all Italians leaving Italy.

    In addition, in 1908 an earthquake in Southern Italy triggered a forty foot tsunami that decimated Calabria and coastal Sicily, with the death toll reaching up to 80,000 people. Many displaced survivors departed for the United States.

    One hundred and one U.S. ports were in operation throughout the nineteenth century. Pacific coast passenger list arrivals were recorded beginning in 1850 . In 1895, the U.S. initiated the collection of records that tallied and processed border crossings of individuals arriving from Canada, and in 1903, immigrants from Mexico into California, Texas, New Mexico, or Arizona. 1907 marked the official year that an act was passed to record alien arrivals at U.S. land borders, or “contiguous territory.” These records took the form of “card manifests” listing identifying information.

    In the decades after the Civil War, the U.S. government expanded. The Department of Justice was founded, Civil Rights acts were passed in the 1870s, and enforcement of voting policies was conducted by U.S. marshals and federal election officials. Likewise, in 1890, the Treasury Department terminated its contract with the New York State Commissioners of Emigration, and a year later the federal government assumed total control of all U.S. immigration operations. Consequently, between 1893 and 1907, the number of columns of personal information on passenger lists rose from five to twenty-nine. “Aliens” were now asked how much money they carried to provide the address of relatives or contacts in the U.S. they were meeting and if they were an anarchist or polygamist.

    With the exception of Irish Catholics, the majority of immigrants before 1882 were Protestants from Northern and Western Europe. By 1907, three out of four immigrants were Catholics and Jews from Southern and Eastern Europe.

    The 1924 Immigration Act passed by Congress targeted specific nationalities with quota restrictions. The number of newcomers from Southern and Eastern Europeans nations allowed into the U.S. would now be limited to 2% of the total number of people from those origin countries listed in the 1890 United States census. For example, if one million individuals were listed in the 1890 federal census as born in Italy, then only 20,000 Italians would be allowed entry into the United States annually after 1924.

    The 1930s were characterized by more departures from the U.S. than arrivals, while quota laws, World War II, internment camps, and the suppression of ethnicities of wartime enemies were some of the factors causing levels of immigration to decrease.

    In 1933, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) was established, as part of the Department of Labor it would later be transferred to the authority of the Department of Justice, which oversaw immigration until 2002 when the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) created the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Recent naturalization records are now only obtainable through a Freedom of Information Act request.

    While the government reevaluated Alien Registration laws during the Cold War, Congress continued to make it law to keep passenger manifests, including for aircraft however, arrival records furnished to INS officers were no longer submitted to the collections of the National Archives. As a result, the bulk of lists that may have been kept after the late 1950s are not accessible to researchers.

    In 2014, President Obama had announced a series of Immigration Executive Actions, which by various measures provided “temporary legal status to millions of illegal immigrants,” and an “an indefinite reprieve from deportation.” One of these actions would have extended and expanded the “Deferred Action to Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents,” (DAPA) which the DHS describes as an “administrative mechanism” that helps eligible immigrants without legal status to gain “work-authorization… pay taxes and contribute to the economy." Challenged in federal court by 26 states, an injunction was imposed against DAPA by a U.S. District Court in Texas. When the case reached the Supreme Court, in June 2016, the judges deadlocked, and the injunction was “affirmed by an equally divided court.” As a result, the “unauthorized immigrant population” affected by the outcome was estimated by the New York Times at roughly six million people.

    The Ellis Island of America in 2016 is Los Angeles International Airport, where arrivals are greeted by the Theme Building, a work of unique architecture resembling a futuristic spacecraft, and co-designed by a former Hollywood art director.

    The Theme Building. Photo Collection of the Los Angeles Public Library.


  1. Alanzo

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  2. Jarod

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  3. Gukora

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  5. Nikojar

    Who told you?

  6. Ctesippus

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