Reflecting and Reifying Class Stratification

I had another thought about the overall exhibit theme when I was driving today…  Through the lens of food, we could talk about how each of these modes of travel have contributed to or reified class stratification in the United States.

We see it in ship travel, particularly in how the fees charged by commercial lines for steerage passage paid for luxury travel.  According to some of the reading Elena and I have done, steerage was the money maker and made ocean crossings like the Titanic possible.  I didn’t know that – I just figured the rich were paying for their vacations.  In fact, the money collected from steerage customers and the fact that the companies spent very little for their accommodations made trans-oceanic a lucrative business.   From the menus alone, we have a compelling argument for the division of classes.

Are the other groups finding similar accounts in their research?

I just wanted to type this out before I lost my flash of organizing thoughts.  It’s not really a complete proposal, but just something that came to me while I was driving.  I think it’s going to be a little tricky tying all of our narratives together, but 1) exoticization and its contribution to a distinctly American view of the world and 2) class stratification, we have both an external and internal discussion of food ways and the ways they inform our understanding of United States cultural and social history.

Thoughts?  Am I completely off?


Attractions of an Excursion Upon the Great Lakes

So Shana asked me to look up this pamphlet at the Library of Congress.  Here are my notes, some paraphrased, some direct quotes.  This looks like it might be useful for the steamship team.  Hope it’s interesting!

Attractions of an Excursion upon the Great Lakes.  Routes and rates for Summer Tours.

Presented by the Lake Superior Transit Co. 1880  (incorporated under laws of State of New York)

John Allen, Jr.  President   Buffalo, New York

P. 6  “To the generality of pleasure seekers, the Lake Superior region is but little known, owing to its former inaccessibility and the inferior steamers heretofore running to that most interesting and delightful country.”

“With the object of enabling the Tourist and Traveler to visit it with comfort and safety, the Lake Superior Transit Company have equipped and put in service a Line of Steamers, for size, substantial comfort and elegance of appointment far exceeding anything heretofore attempted on the great Lakes.”

“The trip by steamer to Lake Superior is one of the cheapest and most delightful excursions in this country, the total cost between Buffalo and Duluth being less than four dollars per day, which small sum not only secures accommodations equal to most Hotels, but carries the traveler over 2000 miles of a country full of interest and instruction.”

“Seekers after health as well as pleasure, especially those afflicted with HAY FEVER, are most earnestly recommended to try the climate of Lake Superior.  It is stated on the best authority that there are no cases too severe to be relieved by its bracing atmosphere, and there are some well authenticated reports of complete and permanent cures effectively a short sojourn there.”

Points of Interest:  Buffalo, point of Eastern embarkation; Niagara Falls; Erie, PA; Cleveland; Detroit River; Detroit; Ft Wayne; Lake St. Clair; Lake Huron; Sportsmen Fishing

Route 1:  To Alexandria Bay and Return ( Via St. Lawrence River, returning via Trenton Falls)

Lake Superior Transit Company Steamer…to Buffalo

New York Central & H Railroad…to Suspension Bridge

Great Western Railway…to Alexandria Bay

Steamer J.F. Maynard…to Clayton

Utica & Black River Railroad…to Utica

New York Central & H Railroad…to Buffalo

Lake Superior Transit Company’s Steamer…to starting point

Through rates

       From Detroit…26.85

       From Duluth…63.oo

Research Jackpot!

The Steamship Historical Society of America is in East Providence, RI!  [Happy dance and jumpy claps!]

Additional Steamship Bibliography

Braynard, Frank O., and William H. Miller.  Picture History of the Cunard line, 1840-1990.  Courier Dover Publications, 1991.

Brownstone, David M, Irene M. Franck, and Douglass L. Brownstone.  Island of Hope, Island of Tears.  Barnes & Noble Publishing, 2000.

Edington, Sarah. Captain’s Table: Life and Dining on the Great Ocean Liners, 1st ed.  National Maritime Museum Press, 2004.

Maxtone-Graham, John.  Liners to the Sun, 2nd ed.  Sheridan House, 2000.

McCutcheon, Janette.  Cunard. Amberley Publishing, 2009.

Piouffre, Gerard.  First Class: Legendary Ocean Liner Voyages Around the World.  Vendome Press, 2009.

Ulrich, Kurt.  Monarchs of the Sea: The Great Ocean Liners.  I. B. Tauris, 1999.

Steamship Stories – James W. Paige, 1852

From the LOC’s American Memory – A diary kept by James W. Paige on his travels from Maine to California, 1852.  Later published as Round Cape Horn: Voyage of the Passenger-Ship.  Original held at the G. W. Blunt White Library at the Mystic Seaport Museum.

Diary Entry – July 5, 1852

Another attempt has been made to induce Captain J. to substitute a more decent bill of fare in place of the disgusting dishes upon which he has starved us during the voyage. As we are approaching Talcahuana, where a supply of such necessaries as we may need can be obtained, it was thought proper to hold a formal meeting for the purpose in the main cabin. A chairman, secretary and a committee to report a bill of fare for the cinsideration of Captain J., were chosen. Mr. Grant, the chief steward, was called in, who stated that in supplying the table in the after cabin with better food than those in other parts of the ship, he had acted in compliance with the orders of Captain J., and that the captain had also directed him to reduce the allowance of soft-tack to the passengers. The committee on the bill of fare reported to recommend for dinners, on Monday, beef and rice; on Tuesday, beans and pork; on Wednesday, fish and potatoes, or rice; on Thursday, beef and potatoes and duff; on Friday, beans and pork; on Saturday, fish and potatoes, and on Sunday, beef and duff, with soft-tack and apple-sauce once a day. This report was accepted. The committee immediately waited upon the captain, whom they found in a more amiable mood than they had anticpated, and obtained from him some general promises of improvement, which gave us a slight degree of encouragement.
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Steamship Stories – Bills of Fare from Waterman Journal, c. 1860

Lucius A. Waterman

From LOC’s American Memory – A journal kept by Lucius A. Waterman during voyages on the Pacific Mail Steamship Company’s Ships China, Constitution, and Ocean Queen, from Hong Kong to New York, c. 1860, included this wine list and 4 menus.

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Steamship Stories – Meals in Steerage

From The Chautauquan (November 1907)
Description of Meals in Steerage

The entire steerage was divided into groups of four, six and eight each. Each of these groups appointed a captain to go to the galley at each meal to receive the dole of food for the entire group. These groups make themselves as comfortable as they can — anywhere. Sometimes on a hatch, sometimes on deck, sometimes in their bunks. The steerage is not provided with means for sitting down so usually the meals are eaten on the floor. After the food of each group has been apportioned every man shifts for himself — or goes without if he can’t stand the filth and the smells and the discomforts.

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