Kulturarv Östergötland
Kulturarv Östergötland

CROSSING THE ATLANTIC

In the pamphlets of the travel agencies emigrants to America were often promised a fast and comfortable voyage. This was not the case in reality, at least not from the beginning.

On the sailing-vessels that brought many of our emigrants to America conditions were often hard. To start with the vessels were to a large extent cargo ships that were passably adapted to crowd together as many emigrants as was possible. Diseases and even deaths were common, something we also can see from the letters. Lots of emigrants suffered severely from seasickness and thirst. Gradually the sailing-vessels were exchanged to faster and more comfortable steamships. The voyage became easier and cheaper.

We can divide the travelling into several phases. First the journey from home with horse and wagon on bad roads and by simple boat transports on the great lakes to the exit harbours. Most of the emigrants found their way to Gothenburg on the west coast of Sweden, but some of them also used other exit harbours. In the beginning the voyage from Sweden took place with smaller vessels to England or Ireland before they were exchanged to bigger passenger ships for the final voyage on the Atlantic. Many Swedes call the Atlantic ?the great lake".

Text: Dan Malmsten
Translation: Gunnel Asp

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