White Star Line advert by Ismay, Imre and Co. ca. 1876 - "Royal and United States Mail Steamers. Sailing from Liverpool and New York every Wednesday, calling at Queenstown to land mails and embark passengers. The R.M.S. Adriatic and Celtic have superior accommodation for a limited number of second class passengers - Second cabin and steerage passage at low rates. Through bookings to all important centers in the United States, Canada and Europe. - Please note that steerage passengers are only conveyed upon the same decks as Saloon ; also that steerage entrances are permanent, and not trough the hatchways, the latter being used only for light and ventilation in addition to that obtained through the portholes. The steerage is warmed by steam. Surgeon and steerage Matron are carried on each steamer. Apply to Ismay, Imre and Co., 10, Water Street, Liverpool" |
White Star Line advert ca. 1905 by the Norwegian agent Ferdinand Elster: The largest steamers in the world, White Star Line ocean steamers... - The tweendeck (steerage) is arranged with rooms for 2, 4, 6 or more passengers - family accommodation which is much desired... - Departure from Christinia every Friday at 10 AM.
Advert for the White Star - Dominion Line, service to Canada showing the steamships Doric, Regina, Megantic, Arabic and Canada.
The White Star Line was founded in September 1869 as the Oceanic Steam Navigation Company
. From the earliest days it was to be known as the White Star Line
, owing to the ships flying a red swallow-tailed flag with a white star. The company entered in the North Atlantic passenger trade soon after. The first steamer launched for the line was the Oceanic (1)
, which departed on her maiden voyage from Liverpool to New York March 2nd 1871. She was soon followed by her 3 sisters, the Atlantic
, Baltic (1)
and Republic (1)
. In 1872 two other slightly improved versions of the first quartet was built, namely the Adriatic (1)
and Celtic (1)
. These ships are often refereed to as belonging to the Oceanic (1) class. The Britannic (1)
launched 1874 and the Germanic
launched 1875 were the first steamers of the line with two funnels, and were actually enlarged versions of the Oceanic (1) class steamers. All ships built by the famous yard of Harland and Wolff at Belfast.
The White Star Line as newcomers in the emigration trade had to compete with other well established companies like the Cunard Line
, Inman Line
, Allan Line
, Anchor Line
, National Line
, Guion Line
. However, the new White Star Line ships were fast offered a high standard even for steerage passengers. The company soon became popular and a great numbers of emigrants crossed the Atlantic ocean on White Star Line ships in the decades after the line was established. Unfortunately, they were not without mishaps, and in 1873 the S/S Atlantic
was wrecked near Halifax with the loss of 545 lives
Like the other great transatlantic companies the White Star Line soon established a network of ticket agencies in many European countries and in America. Passengers from Sweden and Norway were conveyed by Wilson Line
steamships to Hull, and from Hull to Liverpool by train. There were similar kind of arrangements from the other European countries, from Denmark, Germany, France, and Holland passengers were transported from the mayor ports across the English Channel and conveyed to Liverpool by train. The early White Star Line steamships departed from Liverpool every Wednesday, calling at Queenstown (Cobh) to embark mails and additional passengers from Ireland. The time of passage from Queenstown to New York was about 8 days in the first decades. Several of the White Star Line steamers became record breakers, the Baltic (1) in 1873, when crossing in 7 days, 20 hours and 9 minutes, Germanic in 1876 when crossing in 7 days 11 hours and 53 minutes and the Britannic (1) in 1877 when crossing in 7 days 10 hours and 53 minutes. The ocean passage was gradually cut down as new and faster ships were built. In 1891 the Majestic (1)
which had been launched 1890 crossed in 5 days 18 hours and 8 minutes, and the same year her sister, the Teutonic
which had been launched 1889 crossed in 5 days 16 hours and 31 minutes. The Teutonic turned out to be the last record holder of the line.
The Oceanic (2)
was launched in 1899. She was not built to beat the speed record, as the new policy of the company was to offer comfort before speed. The later ships built became more known for their appearance and reliability. By 1904 the White Star Line in addition to the Liverpool - Queenstown - New York (and Boston) service also had a colonial service to New Zealand operated by the steamers Gothic
, Delphic (1)
, Ionic (2)
and Tropic (2)
. A colonial service to Australia (Liverpool - Melbourne - Sydney via the Cape) was operated by the Afric
. A Pacific service was operated by Doric (1)
and Gaelic (1)
. In 1907 a service from Southampton via Cherbourg to New York was opened. The line also owned some live stock steamers, such as the Georgic (1)
. In 1909 a joint service with the Dominion Line
to Canada was inaugurated, known as the White Star - Dominion Line. This line was operated with a combination of White Star Line steamers and Dominion Line steamers.
The first General agent to be authorized to represent the line in Norway was Frederik Lie . In 1871 he was authorized to convey emigrants by via Hull to Liverpool and from Liverpool to New York and inland. A network of agents worked to sell tickets in different parts of country, like in other European countries. In Norway the line was better known as "Hvide Stjerene Linien", or just "Stjerne Linien". The Norwegian network of agents was organized with the general agent situated in Christiania (Oslo). From 1881 till 1910 the general agent (in Christiania) was Ferdinand J. Elster.
The general agent was the companies main representative in in the country. He, along with the agents of other lines had to be authorized by the Norwegian police every year, and the company had to deposit a certain amount of funds with the Norwegian government a security for the fulfilling of the agreements in the passenger contracts.
In the Norwegian cities like Bergen and Trondheim there were head agents appointed by the general agents, responsible for their respective regions. The first White Star head agent in Trondheim was H. Hansen in 1872. Within each region a network of sub-agents operated. The sub-agents enrolled passengers for the line by taking a small advance, and sent lists to the head agents with names of the enrolled passengers. The emigrants had to go see the head agents to pay for the tickets, and to sign a contract for the voyage. Those contracts were the result of the Norwegian passenger act of 1869. The act stated that the agents had to sign contracts describing the conditions for the voyage. The contract had to be shown before the police, and to be signed at the police station. At the same time the police would list the emigrants in protocols, with information about who they had tickets with, and personal data. These protocols, or lists are known as the Police Lists or the "Emigration Protocols". Those are the sources that many people will be using when trying to find the name of the ship their on which their ancestors departed Norway. The problem is that none of the White Star Line ships departed from Norway. The emigrants was listed by name, age and other personal information, and the line (or "Rederi") was in many cases listed as "Hvide Stjerne". In some of the lists there will also be listed the name of a ship. However, this ship was not the name of the White Star ship, but the name of a ship that brought the emigrants from Norway to Britain. In many cases that would be a ship belonging to the Wilson Line of Hull. The transatlantic steamers of the White Star Line departed from Liverpool and Southampton.
In addition to the police lists, some of the personal records belonging to the White Star Line general agent "Elster", has survived in the Norwegian "Statsarkivet i Oslo". The material covers the Christiania passenger lists for the years 1883 - 1923. The lists gives the names of both the feeder ships to Britain and the transatlantic steamer, and it also gives additional information about the fee. There are also some similar lists for Trondheim covering the years 1911 - 1924.
Look for pictures of White Star Line ships, or upload pictures: The White Star Line picture gallery
The S/S Atlantic of the White Star Line, disaster in 1873
by Trond Austheim & BÝrge Solem - about the disaster and the Norwegian and Scandinavian passengers on the ship when it went down off Halifax in 1873
Recovering the dead, the cargo and valuables from the wreck of the S/S Atlantic
- (Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper Apr. 1873 - Transcribed by BÝrge Solem Aug. 2005) - The story and illustrations showing various incidents and phases of the operations of recovering the the dead, the cargo and valuables from the wreck of the S/S Atlantic conducted off Marr's Island in 1873
The White Star Liner Baltic Completes Maiden Voyage in 1904
- (NEW YORK TIMES Saturday July 9, 1904 - Transcribed by Jo Anne Sadler 2005), "Greatest Ship Built Comes to Port at New York - White Star Liner Baltic Completes Maiden Voyage - STEAMSHIP 726 FEET LONG - Made Trip from Liverpool in 7 Days 13 Hours and 37 Minutes-Brought 906 Passengers"
Norwegian passengers on the S/S Titanic
(by Per Kristian Sebak 2003) - When the legendary Titanic set sail from Queenstown, Ireland, her last port of call, on 11 April 1912, there were 31 passengers of Norwegian origin on board. This article tells the story of how the 31 traveled to the Titanic, and is mainly based on Chapter 3 in the book, "TITANIC - 31 Norwegian Destinies", which gives a comprehensive account of all 31 Norwegians on the ill-fated liner.