From the earliest days of ocean travel, the Passenger List was the social, style and aesthetic mirror of the day. For the ephemera collector-cum social historian, they provide a fascinating study of not only the contents but also the covers.
Passenger Lists were handed out to everyone on-board and documented the name of each passenger, title, if any, and place of residence. By the time of the first meal, the experienced traveler would have reviewed the Passenger List to see whether there were any ‘important’ people on board. If one were in First Class (a.k.a. Saloon, First Saloon, or First Cabin), the quest of the voyage would be to meet celebrities in person and perhaps ask for their autograph. Members of the aristocracy, barons of business, senior clergy, and parliamentarians were all of interest. Beyond that, one would look for other passengers (in the same class) from the traveler’s home community if it were shown on the list.
Equally important for the passenger was remembering the names of the other parties seated at their dinner table. Many passenger lists are annotated with tick marks, underlining, or other symbols as an aide memoire for the names of table-mates.
Text © by John Sayers of the British Ephemera Society.
The following is a small selection of White Star Line Passenger List cover artwork:
Above, an elegant White Star Line passenger list cover circa 1870s, featuring Britannic and an inset view of New York to promote the Company's trans-Atlantic service.
Above, another passenger list cover featuring the Company's flagship Britannic and other White Star imagery, this time from the 1880s.
Above, a White Star Line First Class Passenger List cover from the 1890s.
A poster of this image is available for purchase at our web store.
Above, a First Class Passenger List cover from the White Star Line circa 1900s.
Above, a White Star passenger list cover from 1927. © The Sayers Collection.
Above, a White Star passenger list cover from 1930. © The Sayers Collection.
Above, the cover of an information pamphlet for First Class passengers on-board Homeric.
Above, a passenger's guide to crew hierarchy circa 1930s.
Above, a White Star First Class Passenger List cover circa 1920s.