TheShipsList-L ArchivesArchiver > TheShipsList > 1998-09 > 0906208305
Subject: Re: [TSL] Race & Nationality listed of passenger
Date: Sat, 19 Sep 1998 08:31:45 EDT
In a message dated 9/18/98 10:41:48 PM, Linda wrote:
>On a passenger list there are columns for race and nationality. I assume the
>immigrant offered the information to the writer of the list. Did the
>immigrant have to give proof of race? Was the passport the document of
>My Hungarian Jewish father (born in Hungary to Jewish Hungarians) was an
>emigrant passenger in 1928. He and his family were listed as nationality--
>Czechoslovakia , race-- Hungarian, visa issued in Prague, his language
>German. On other passenger lists of Jewish people, I have seen, the race is
>usually listed as Hebrew.
These distinctions seems bizarre to us today, but back then the shipping
company employees (ticket agents, ship's pursers) had to make these
determinations and enter something on the form. Their entries might be
corrected (?) by Inspectors at the US port of entry if they saw that need.
Nationality is essentially their citizenship--the country of which they were a
"Race" is what we think of as ethnicity--easier to understand when you think
of old places like the Russian Empire where lots of different "races" or
ethnic groups all had the same nationality. It was a way of differentiating
them. In many cases "race" was determined by language, which explains why so
many Jews were classified of the "Hebrew" race, whether their nationality was
Spanish, German, or Russian.
The case of Linda's father (given above) tends to demonstrate how confusing
all these concepts could be, even in 1928!
I find that you can read the original instructions for filling out each column
of the manifest on pages of the Ellis Island, New Jersey, website. For
example, those dealing with Race and Nationality can be found at