Changing occupations on a ship passenger list #general

Michele Lock

I have the ship passenger list for my maternal great great grandparents Jossel and Michle Leibman and two of their daughters, arriving in July 1906 on the SS Westernland in Philadelphia. On the page that includes them, I noticed that 12 out of the 30 passengers had their occupations changed after the manifest had first been filled out.

The Viewmate image of the entire page is available at:

A snippet of the page is below - 

Some of the changes don't make much sense to me - changing 'Laborer' to 'Druggist', 'Laborer' to 'Capmaker', etc. Almost all the listings for 'Domestic' (meaning a maid) were changed to 'Tailoress'. I checked other pages in the manifest, and this is the only one that has so many changes. By looking at the handwriting, the person who made the changes was not the original person who filled out the manifest.

Does anyone know what the reason(s) for so many changes might be? My impression had been that passengers were not re-interviewed about their occupation or any other details, once they were on the ship. I also assume that once they had arrived, the US immigration officials would have asked them what their occupations were.

Michele Lock

Lock/Lak/Lok and Kalon in Zagare/Joniskis, Lithuania
Olitsky in Alytus, Suwalki, Poland/Lithuania
Gutman/Goodman in Czestochowa, Poland
Lavine in Trenton, New Jersey and Lida/Minsk gub., Belarus

David Oseas


The information on the passenger list was gathered & recorded initially by the shipping company at the ticket sales office.

One of the ship's officers confirmed the information with the passengers as they boarded (or perhaps shortly afterward). 

It appears that the person at the ticket office did not follow standard practice in several columns:  for example, only the town of residence was recorded in column #10, and not the country, which was added in the same handwriting as the occupation corrections.  The person making the corrections also added family relationships in column #2.  As you noted, the occupations were originally recorded as generic terms (domestic, laborer) rather than specific fields of work (capmaker, tailor).

My guess is that the person at the ticket office was inexperienced & that the ship's officer made the corrections to adhere to the policies of the shipping company.

David Oseas

HYMAN/HEYMAN/HEIMOWITS/CHAJMOVITS: Zemplen-Dobra, Hungary > New York;  KLEIN: Satoraljaujhely (Ujhely), Hungary > New York > Los Angeles
Hungary > New York;  OSEAS/OSIAS/OSIASI/OZIAS: Iasi, Romania > Chicago > Milwaukee > Los Angeles
SCHECHTER/SHEKTER: Kishinev, Bessarabia > New York;  SHERMAN: Iasi, Romania > New York > Los Angeles
STRUL:  Iasi, Romania > Haifa, Israel;  WICHMAN: Syczkowo (Bobruisk), Belarus > Milwaukee > Los Angeles


I agree with David, these changes were likely made aboard the ship by the purser or other officer.  The occupation information in particular was made more specific.  Instead of simply "laborer" or "domestic" they became cap maker or tailoress.  Rather than unskilled labor, for which there was often an oversupply in the US, these skilled trades made them less likely to appear as likely public charges.

Why these corrections are only on one page may result from, as David said, the ticket selling process.  People from the same locality were to be listed together.  People from the same locality likely purchased their tickets from the same agent.  If the agent did not provide complete information that would show up in a block on the page or pages listing those people.

Marian Smith