Passenger Lists in the Port of Trieste

Aleksej Kalc


The paper will present the Trieste emigration lists. Trieste, the main Austrian trading port, assumed the function of the port of emigration in 1904. This was a milestone in the development of the Austrian emigration statistics, which due to the inefficiency of direct statistical observations at the administration and political level was based on the information of authorities in foreign ports. The establishment of a national port finally offered an opportunity for direct control and registration of emigrant traffic in accordance with their own statistical criteria. Therefor in 1904 the Austrian Central Statistical Commission drew up an ambitious plan, aiming to establish a statistical system according to hat were then the highest standards. The system envisaged registering both individuals and families according to criteria which would enable a direct comparison with the existing materials and results of censuses. Among the items providing an insight into the morphology of the emigration flows the forms included in addition to the name, surname, gender, age, marital status and profession also family relations with travelling groups (head of the family, family member, individual), level of literacy, religion, type of emigration (temporary or permanent), province and political district of birth, province, political district and municipality of the last place of residence, country of destination and language of communication. The purpose of these items was not only to establish the geographical origin and nationality of emigrants, but served also as indicators of previous internal migration. However, for legal and technical reasons this plan remained on paper only. The number of people who emigrated via the Port of Trieste was for a long time recorded only in the form of summary reports according to gender as well as province or country of origin.

Only in 1912 did the Trieste port authorities begin compiling detailed passenger records that included name and surname, age, marital status, profession, last place of residence, citizenship, port of destination as well as the ship and the date of departure for each steerage passenger. One copy of these records for the period 1912-1914 can be found in the Austrian State Archive in Vienna in the records of the Ministry of the Interior and Ministry of Trade, one copy for 1914 is also kept by the State Archive in Trieste in the records of the Maritime Government. The records include data on a total of nearly 87.000 emigrants who emigrated during those years via Trieste to the USA, South America and Canada with the Austrian national company Austro-Americana, the English Cunard Line and the Canadia Pacific Railway Company. Nearly half of all the emigrants came from the Austria-Hungarian Empire, while the rest of them were predominantly from Russia, Turkey, Greece, Italy and Romania.

The paper will discuss in detail the structure of the records and the characteristics of the data, pointing out the omissions in comparison with the original drafts, due to which important information was left out, such as that referring to family relations among the passengers.