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Castle Garden Labor Exchange - 1868

The Labor Exchange -- Emigrants on the Battery in Front of Castle Garden, New York.

The Labor Exchange -- Emigrants on the Battery in Front of Castle Garden, New York. Sketched by Stanley Fox. Harper's Weekly, 15 August 1868. GGA Image ID # 1480305951

The Labor Exchange lately organized at Castle Garden, the landing-place for emigrants to this city, is one of the most valuable and successful institutions in New York. Luring its short existence it has done much to break up the old, vile system of " runners," through whom unwary emigrants have been enticed into boarding-houses to be robbed, or worse establishments to be ruined.

The Labor Exchange is a free market for emigrant labor, open to employers from all parts of the United States. While procuring prompt and remunerative employment to emigrants, it offers to employers' superior opportunities to choose suitable employees out of the large and varied supply of applicants for work daily resorting to this office.

It charges no fees, commissions, nor any other remuneration ; it furnishes to employers not only domestic help, agricultural or unskilled labor, but also all kinds of skilled laborers, mechanics, and artisans; land speculators are excluded from its privileges; and all propositions contemplating the side or leasing of land to emigrants are rejected.

Employers must either be known to the Superintendent, or produce satisfactory references, and agents must be duly authorized by their principals, and come well recommended.

The Labor Exchange -- Interior View of the Office at Castle Garden, New York.

The Labor Exchange -- Interior View of the Office at Castle Garden, New York. Sketed by Stanley Fox. Harper's Weekly, 15 August 1868. GGA Image ID # 14805c4868

It does not make contracts for emigrants with the employer; it does not fix the amount of wages nor the terra of service, nor prescribe any other condition of the contract; it leaves all these matters to be settled by the voluntary agreement of the parties immediately interested, and assists them only by giving all needful information and advice.

The semi-annual report of the transactions at the Labor Exchange from January 1 to July of 1858, shows that a great work has been accomplished by it. During the six months named it found employment for 7,111 male and 5,840 female laborers; among them 254 entire families, comprising 721 persons.

Orders to the number of 15,700 were received from employers, and since the owning of spring the demand for laborers has far exceeded die supply. Farm laborers may be hired for wages varying from $6 to $10 per month in winter; from $12 to $18 in summer (besides board and lodging).

Engagements for the whole year are of rare occurrence. Southern planters have, in a few instances, hired good farm hands in this office by the year for $120 to $180 (besides board and lodging). Female domestic servants obtain from $5 to $10 per month.

Professed cooks have been engaged from $12 to $20 per month. Families, consisting of husband and wife, and sometimes including one or more small children, have been hired for $15 to $24 Per month.

Emigrants are at present reluctant to take Southern engagements, because unfavorable impressions prevail in regard to the situation and treatment of the Southern laborer, the kind and quality of food and lodging furnished to him, and the prompt and sure payment of his wages.

The emigrant will build his new home only where labor is duly honored and reaps its just reward. Let him realize the fact that labor in the South leads just as surely to independence, comfort, and a respectable social position ns it does in the North, and the Southern States will soon attract a large and steady stream of European immigration.

Our illustrations show the exterior of Castle Carden, with the emigrants in the park on the Battery, and the interior of the Labor Exchanges.

"Castle Garden Labor Exchange," in Harper's Weekly: A Journal of Civilization, Vol. XII, No. 607, New York: Harper & Brothers, Saturday, 15 August 1868, p. 516, 518.

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The GG Archives is the work and passion of two people, Paul Gjenvick, a professional archivist, and Evelyne Gjenvick, a curator. Paul earned a Masters of Archival Studies - a terminal degree from Clayton State University in Georgia, where he studied under renowned archivist Richard Pearce-Moses. Our research into the RMS Laconia and SS Bergensfjord, the ships that brought two members of the Gjønvik family from Norway to the United States in the early 20th century, has helped us design our site for other genealogists. The extent of original materials at the GG Archives can be very beneficial when researching your family's migration from Europe.