Thank you so much for the link to the Cowen report. I have only skimmed it, esp. the section on travel you highlighted, and it is very informative and fascinating. It is great to read a contemporary account, so clearly and engagingly written. I've been trying to learn more about the journey out of the Pale, the mechanics of crossing frontiers, arrangement for the different stages of travel, documents required, etc., to help supplement my understanding of my family's story. I have the original Russian passports for 2 of my maternal great-grandparents and wondered how someone came by such documents. This was esp. interesting since my paternal grandfather told me he was smuggled across the Russian border into Germany. I've read several first-hand accounts of the journey, including a spare rendering in Sholem Aleichem's Motl, the cantor's son, in which he describes the family being smuggled across the border with their household goods, housed at a nearby inn until they can be put on a train to the port when they will embark.
Until this recent finding, I've been able to find only anecdotal accounts, sometime fictional, or bits and pieces about critical points of the journey. Someone has already mentioned the immigrant banks in Philadelphia: there is some information about the payment scheme and the system for delivering tickets via local agents to the travelers attached to those collections, I believe. Perhaps more relevant to the original question, I've also read (sorry, but I can't put my finger on the source) that the immigrant trade was very lucrative and there was sometimes fierce competition for business. This included not only the steamship lines but also the countries where the ports were located. Thus, travelers passing through Germany on their way to Antwerp were often harassed by officials along the way. My grandfather said his train was delayed by officials, causing him to miss his ship, forcing him to wait until the next available passage. This was documented in the Cowen report. Perhaps choosing different routes depended on such factors, affecting the relative difficulty or ease of reaching one port or the other. Or those with more money or easier access to official papers would take one route and those with few means had to take another.
Just a heads up to those of you who plan programming for a JGS or research institution, that a presentation on this topic would be very welcome.
Lee David Jaffe
Surnames / Towns: Jaffe / Suchowola, Poland ; Stein (Sztejnsapir) / Bialystok and Rajgrod, Poland ; Joroff (Jaroff, Zarov) / Chernigov, Ukraine ; Schwartz (Schwarzman?, Schwarzstein?) / ? ; Koshkin / Snovsk, Ukraine ; Rappoport / ? ; Braun / Wizajny, Suwalki, Poland, Ludwinowski / Wizajny, Suwalki, Poland