Description of Archival Records: Cunard Line Passenger Lists
United Kingdom, Passenger Lists of the Cunard Steamship Line, Gjenvick-Gjønvik Archives Maritime Historical Records
Collection Time Period
This Collection of passenger lists covers the years 1881-1954
Starting with the first voyage of the RMS Britannia in 1840 through the Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth ships of the 1950s, the Cunard Line transported numerous immigrants, socialites, businessmen and women, professional gamblers, and tourists primarily on the transatlantic routes between European ports and North America.
The level of detail and information provided in each passenger list was not standardized and varied considerably over the years and between voyages. Generally speaking, the nineteenth century voyages provided minimal information, typically the name of the ship, origination and destination ports, Senior Staff members (such as the Captain, Chief Engineer, Surgeon, Purser, and Chief Steward) and cabin Passengers including domestic assistants such as Maids, servants, stewardess (personal), nurses, manservants, friends, secretaries, and valets. Children were not listed separately until the early 1900s.
Circa 1905, Cunard began including information for Passengers within the passenger list document. Prior to that time, they were handed out as separate documents. This information for Passengers typically included meal times, surgeon services and fees, valuables, baggage regulations, smoking room and bar information, U.S. Head Tax (Westbound), and ocean letters/telegrams.
“The Cunard White Star Line (1934-1949) was formed as a merger of the two once giant steamship lines - The Cunard Steam Ship Company and the White Star Line. The depression years had taken their toll on a number of transatlantic steamship lines. After World War II, traffic, especially tourist traffic had recovered and the Cunard line purchased the remaining assets of White Star Line in 1949.
Ships with Names that ended in "ia" were part of Cunard Line and if the name ended in "ic" - the ship was part of White Star Line (originally).
Note: For ease of researching, we have placed documents for ships ending in "ia" or beginning with "Queen" with the Cunard Line collections. Documents pertaining to vessels ending in "ic" will be found with the White Star Line collections.”
Passenger Lists are available for the following range of dates:
- Cruise Passenger Lists: 9 September 1932 and 25 July 1939
- Eastbound Voyages Passenger Lists: 18 June 1887 to 17 May 1939
- Westbound Voyages Passenger Lists: 16 July 1881 to 26 August 1954
Key Facts found in passenger lists may include:
- Name of Ship
- Class of Passengers Listed in this document
- Origination and Destination Ports
- Other Ports of Call
- Chief Executive Personnel
- Name of Passenger
- Domestic Help, Assistants, Nurses, etc
- Infants and Children (number of)
- Information for Passengers (beginning in 1906)
- Track Chart (Route Map with fill-in form for daily voyage stats from captain’s Log)
- Principal Agencies and/or Agents (steamship, Cunard)
- Errata (additional passenger, not on board)
- Récapitulation (number of Passengers by class)
Ships Represented by Passenger Lists in this Collection:
- Queen Elizabeth
- Queen Mary
Passenger List Publication
A number of the passenger lists in this record group from the Cunard Line have been transcribed and published online at the Gjenvick-Gjønvik Archives websites, ggarchives.com.
Use of Passenger List Records
The Cunard Steamship Line Passenger Lists are most often used by patrons who are researching their family history. This includes learning about an immigrant’s voyage, fellow Passengers on board, date of departure (and date of arrival if provided on passenger list or available from the Morton Allan Directory of European Passenger Steamship Arrivals For the Years 1890 to 1930 at the Port of New York and For the Years 1904 to 1926 at the Ports of New York, Philadelphia, Boston and Baltimore. Depending on the year and voyage, the passenger list may provide additional information about life on the ship based on the information for Passengers.
Other uses of passenger lists include research of voyages for demographics, famous Passengers and ships, famous/infamous events and passenger list cover graphics.