Departure and Arrival - Ocean Voyage

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A lamentation on the loss of an emigrant ship

A lamentation on the loss of an emigrant ship Emigrant's NarrativeSickness and Mortality on Emigrant ShipsEmigrants, une arrivée [le pont d'un navire arrivant à Ellis Island remplis d'émigrants] (Arrival at Ellis Island [the deck of the ship is filled with emigrants]

Departure and Arrival - Ocean Voyage

Before the mid-1800s, the journey to America was long and difficult. Immigrants first travelled by foot or cart to a nearby port where they arranged and then waited for a sailing ship to take them to America. Poor immigrants travelled to America on ships that were making their return voyage after having carried tobacco or cotton to Europe. The voyage took between 40 and 90 days, depending on the wind and weather. In steerage, ships were crowded (each passenger having about two square feet of space) and dirty (lice and rats abounded), and passengers had little food and ventilation. Between 10-20% of those who left Europe died on board. From the 1860s, getting to America became shorter and less dangerous when railways enabled an easier trip to the port of departure and steamships sought to attract immigrants as passengers. Conditions in steerage were still harsh, but steamships ran on regular schedules, and the crossing time was reduced to 7-10 days. The shift from sail power to steam power enabled the temporary migration of ‘sojourners’ - house painters and quarrymen who returned to their homeland when their jobs vanished in the American winter.

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