Highlights from SSHSA's Collections
Fall River Line
This photograph was found among SSHSA collections (to see a larger image, click here). It is an albumen print, a photographic process common from the mid 1800s and into the 1930s. Though unfortunately quite faded, the photo is a noteworthy broad view of the Fall River Line’s pier, number 28, in New York City, and a unique look at how steamship terminals and offices were set up.
Note the ticket office in the center of the image, where men wearing bowler stand outside the doorway, and the numerous cross supports on the pole in the foreground to support electrical wires. Also, notice the horse drawn carriages and evidence of traffic in and out of the broad doorways, including the Freight Receiver doorway. Beyond that doorway one can see the ghostly stern of a steamship with an American flag that appears gigantic.
The heavy cardstock on which the photograph is mounted indicates a name, “Kimball” and Concord, New Hampshire. This is most likely where the photo was printed. An interesting note on the back of the card is a stamp from the Baker Library in Boston, MA, dated May 26, 1936. This date most likely indicates the day it entered the library’s collections, which also coincides with the same time frame in which the company ultimately closed.
Running between the 1840s and late 1930s, the line was a popular source of transportation and freight service between Fall River, Boston, Providence and New York. Some of the iconic ships belonging to this line include the Commonwealth, Pilgrim, and Puritan. The line was such an established part of New England culture that a song was written about the line and its ships, titled “The Old Fall River Line” which topped the Billboard charts in 1913. You can listen to an original recording of this song through the Library of Congress’s website: http://www.loc.gov/jukebox/recordings/detail/id/3124/
White Star Line
As many steamship and maritime enthusiasts are aware, this year marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. The tragic tale of the ship and her passenger’s demise have been portrayed in film and been the subject of songs and countless stories in print. So perhaps it isn’t all that surprising that SSHSA has numerous files on the White Star line, Titanic’s parent company.
Many of the items in SSHSA’s collections were picked up by the donors themselves during travels aboard steamships all over the world. These items, whether ephemera like baggage tickets, dinner menus, or souvenirs, can often provide a unique and interesting window into a time long since gone.
In the spotlight today is a souvenir booklet from a voyage of the White Star vessel Germanic. The booklet was published by the Ocean Publishing company and copyrighted to John Gould in 1894, and contains contemporary ads, cartoons, articles, images and even maps. The paper bound book cost 25 cents. It was printed probably with similar content, though certain sections and cover art altered depending on what line the book was printed for. These lines included Cunard, Guion, American, Red Star, Hamburg-American, the French Line, the Netherlands Line, and North German Lloyd.
In this souvenir a traveler could find tips as to how to prepare for a voyage, and what was best to pack. For women: “A dress of dark-blue flannel, serge, or waterproof cloth, with a sacque of the same material, will be found to answer all purposes.” And for men: “Gentlemen will find warm clothing and an overcoat in order for an Atlantic passage. A suit of old clothes to lounge around the deck without fear of spoiling, and a soft felt hat, or cap of some kind, will be found serviceable.” A black suit or silk dress was recommended for special occasions.
In a world before iPhones and laptop computers, a book like this must have been a fun and useful object. There are song lyrics, portraits, humorous cartoons and drawings. There are also pages of practical information: ads for seasickness remedies, a section devoted to key words in English, French and German, and information on how time is kept on shipboard. Flipping through the pages of this book, one can ascertain what was important to a traveler aboard steamships in the early 20th century; what people may have worn, laughed at, and sang about.
Stay tuned for more spotlights on White Star items in SSHSA’s collections. See more pages from this particular book online on our Flickr page.
With your help, we can continue to preserve these valuable portals to our history, and share maritime heritage to all.
This White Star booklet was donated to SSHSA by J. Gommi. The covers are of cardstock, while the inside pages are of smooth paper. This kind of paper makes the black and white images very distinct. It was clearly meant to advertise the ship and entice potential passengers with clear photographic illustrations depicting plush interiors. A traveler contemplating crossing the Atlantic on the Olympic would have been able to see what reception and dining rooms looked like, as well as different levels of staterooms and suites and their accommodations. Additional rooms such as a verandah café, the gymnasium, and the pool, are also shown.
Since the Olympic was Titanic’s sister ship, this brochure offers a beautiful peek at what a passenger aboard the ill-fated liner may have seen. That is, a peek at what second and first class passengers would have seen. What is notably absent are photos of rooms reserved for the third class, and so this brochure was most likely marketed towards wealthier customers.
The text in this booklet describes the vessel, her accommodations, her dimensions and construction. Also mentioned is her wartime service, which dates this booklet post-World War 1. Whoever wrote the description could not have written a truer statement than this: “The photographs reproduced in these pages can offer but an inadequate idea of the magnitude, the magnificence and the beauty of the OLYMPIC, a marvel of science and invention.”
We hope you enjoy the scanned pages from this booklet, and other windows into our archives! See pages from this booklet and more on our Flickr page in the “From the Archive” photoset: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sshsa/7029731419/in/set-72157625286828637
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