The Lipshutz/Peoples Bank
· Using the Database
· The Lipshutz/Peoples Bank Records
· Obtaining copies of full entries
· Searching the Database
During the immigration boom of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, various agencies including private community and state run banks sold steamship tickets to immigrants and their families, arranging for passage to and from America. Many of the private banks selling steamship tickets were referred to as immigrant banks and catered to specific immigrant communities and the neighborhoods they lived. Although steamship agents and immigrant banks in Philadelphia were plentiful, few records of their activities are known to have survived with the exception of four steamship agents who primarily served the Eastern European Jewish population. These four steamship agents--M. L. Blitzstein and Co., M. Rosenbaum and Co., Peoples Bank and Trust Company, and Rosenbluth Brothers--recorded the sale of tickets purchased by their customers in ledgers listing the sales transactions.
Unlike passenger lists which document an immigrant's entry into port, these ledgers record details about the purchase such as the name of the ticket purchaser, the individual(s) for whom tickets were purchased, the name of the steamship line, fees, and travel itinerary. These details reveal information about the passengers, the family members who were arranging passage, and the associated costs of travel. In 1951, HIAS and Council Migration Service of Philadelphia, formerly the Association for the Protection of Jewish Immigrants, an organization dedicated to providing legal and supportive services to immigrants and refugees acquired the steamship ticket purchase ledgers. HIAS Philadelphia utilized these ledgers to verify immigration information when assisting individuals with the naturalization process or facilitating passage for family members seeking asylum. From 1977 to 2009, the Philadelphia Jewish Archives Center (PJAC) administered the collection of steamship ticket purchase ledgers. In June 2009, Temple University Libraries acquired HIAS Philadelphia's archived records and the collection of ledgers. Indexes to the ledgers from three of Philadelphia’s steamship agents are available as searchable databases on JewishGen.
The Peoples index contains four fields of information for an entry: date of the transaction, order number, passenger's name, and purchaser's name.
You will need to know the name of a passenger and/or the name of a ticket purchaser to search the index. If a ticket was purchased from Peoples Bank and Trust Company, your search will identify that passenger and associate the passenger’s name with a date. Likewise, your search on the name of a purchaser will also lead to the date and order number associated with a ticket purchase transaction.
LDS Microfilms: In addition, microfilm copies of the ledgers are accessible through the LDS (Mormon) Family History Library. The title is: Prepaid Steamship Ticket Record, 1906-1948. The eight microfilm reels for the books are:
|7793-18941||May 1923-Dec 1926||#1,550,631|
|18942-19863||Jan 1927-Dec 1931||#1,550,632|
|17793-18361||May 1923-Dec 1924||#1,026,296||Overlap previous records. Filmed backwards.|
|18362-19363||Feb 1924-Dec 1928||#1,026,397||Overlap previous records. Filmed backwards.|
|19364-20361||Jan 1929-Dec 1936||#1,026,298|
|20362-20822||Jan 1937-Dec 1948||#1,026,299||Also Index 1923-1948|
The Lipshutz index offers more information online than the Blitzstein database, including the date of the transaction, the Order Number, the passengers' names, and the purchasers' names. There are approximately 23,690 records, covering the following years:
|1907||January through October|
|1909||November - 1 entry; December - 2 entries|
|1910||January through December|
|1911||January through December|
|1912||January through December|
|1913||January through December|
|1914||January through October|
|1915||January, February, June, August - December|
|1916||January - May, October - December|
|1917||January, February, March|
|1919||April - December|
|1920 - 1941||Full Years; January - December|
|1942||Only 4 records|
|1944||Only 6 records|
|1945||Only 6 records|
|1948||Only 1 record|
|1949||Only 1 record|
The information in the books is in two different formats. The earlier years are handwritten record books. For most of the later years, there are Order Forms, generally typewritten. Generally, both formats contain similar information. A good portion of the handwriting was difficult to read. Many names were spelled as they were in Europe. We made every effort to get the correct name, or as close as possible.
The records that do not have purchaser information seem to be people leaving the U.S. on cruises and/or returning to Europe. The date of the record may refer to the date an account was opened, or an order was placed, or a ticket purchased, perhaps several weeks or months before the passengers arrived.
Many of the Lipshutz/Peoples ticket orders are marked "Cancelled." Among the possible reasons for cancellation: the prospective immigrant decided not to make the trip or became unable, or the purchaser could not make the necessary payments or was not willing to sign a required affidavit assuming financial responsibility for the immigrant, or the account was transferred to another bank, etc. The database includes all information recorded for cancelled as well as for completed orders.
Information you are likely to find:
The SCRC has digitized all of the steamship ticket purchase ledgers in their collection and make them freely accessible online. The digital collection of ledgers is accessible through the following link:
Steamship Ticket Purchase Ledgers digital collection
Reference requests for copies of entries from ledgers not yet accessible in the digital collection may be submitted to SCRC reference staff.
JewishGen, the Philadelphia Jewish Archives Center (PJAC) and Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Philadelphia (JGSGP) would like to thank the following people for their extraordinary dedication in indexing the Blitzstein Bank records. Without their hard work, this database would not be available to the public.
JGSGP: Selma Neubauer, Project Leader, Eileen Bobman, Deborah Glassman, Joan Gross, Joan Rosen, and Steve Schechter.
PJAC: Donald Davis, Archivist, and Eric Greenberg, Associate Archivist.
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