Emigration contracts - passenger contracts
2000 - 2006 - Børge Solem

On May 22nd, 1869 a new law was passed, concerning the conveyance of passengers to foreign parts of the world. This law was intended to protect the emigrants against trickery from the emigration agents and the companies they represented. Prior to this, complaints had been going on for several years, and in 1867 the government decided that they wanted to keep control with the activities of the emigration agents. A temporary act was passed in Nay 1867, and the Police Commissioners were given the task of controlling the fulfillment of the given regulations. From then all agents had to be authorized by the police before they could act as agents.

According to § 6 in the 1869 act, the agent was to produce a written contract between him and the emigrant, which should contain detailed information about in what manner, and to which destination the emigrant and his clothing should be conveyed. It was also the intention that it should statte whether there were any agreements regarding the feeding and lodging of the emigrant in case the ship should have to remain in port, or if the ship for other reasons could not complete the voyage. It should also contain information about the payment, like how much the emigrant had paid for the voyage, and if any further payment should be paid during the voyage.

It also had a section making it illegal to make agreements that implemented the journey to be paid for in total or partly by the performance of labor following arrival. Such arrangements would result in a punishment in form of a fine for the agent.

The contract had to be shown before the police commissioner, and when shown the police would register the details about the transaction in their registers of emigrants, then signed by the police official. Without the signature of the police the contract was not valid. The contract should also bear the signature of the authorized agent, and be handed to the emigrant who should carry it with him on the voyage. It was made out both in Norwegian and in English so it could be used as a legal document during the voyage. Below is an example of an emigration contract made out between a passenger and the Dominion Steamship Company agent in Trondhjem, Ole Gulager. The contract is printed in both Norwegian and English, I have transcribed the English text, it might not be a good translation, but I have decided to not alter it in any way:

The text:

Dominion Line

...[name of emigrant]......has received of the undersigned, (against payment of passage-money, Including landing money in Quebec, Halifax, or Portland, as specified) Through ticket. for

Children under 12 years
Infants under 1 -
to be forwarded to

in the following manner:
1. By Steam-Ship to Hull, where the separate Steam-Ship ticket is to be given up;
2. By Railway to Liverpool;
3. By Steam-Ship to Quebec, Halifax or Portland;
4. By Railway to destination.

During the whole journey hence to America, passengers will be supplied with good and sufficient food, as well as with suitable lodging; and this arrangement stands equally good in the event of any unfavorable delay or accident interrupting the journey, which in that case will be continued as soon as possible in a satisfactory manner. Passengers must attach a full and plain address to reach their luggage packages. 10 Cubic feet Luggage pr. Steam-Ship and 150 Pd.s. pr. Railway free for each passenger above 12 years old; for children between 5 & / 12 years half the quantity. On arriving in England passengers must not hasten to go on shore, but wait until they are fetched by our Correspondents people, who will make themselves known by showing a list of all the passengers names. Passengers should not have any dealings with Interpreters on the journey. On arriving at America passengers must look after to get their railway tickets to the destination. Passengers should hold this contract, and show it as often as they have occasion but not give it up until they arrive at their destination.

NB, This contract can not be used instead of the forwarding thickets herein described.

A deposit of 20 000 Norwegian Kroner has been made to the Norwegian government as a security due fulfillment of this contract.

Presented the police on .............. 190_
For the Police Commissioner..............
For Dominion Line.............

Other Contracts:

Tickets and traveling contracts in the Image Gallery