Oceans liners are synonymous with the age of travelling in style but the stories of those who travelled on them varied greatly. Drawing on archives and advertising material, this exhibition explores these stories to reveal the contrasting experiences of poor emigrants journeying to the Americas in steerage and the voyages of the wealthy who travelled in luxury in First Class.
More than 50 million people crossed the Atlantic in great waves of migration during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The exhibition provides insights into some of the motives and life-changing decisions that led people to undertake these sometimes-perilous journeys in search of better lives in the Americas. Among the unique documents included in the exhibition are original letters, ticket-books and ledgers from the archives of Irish emigration agent and general merchant, John Gibbons (1874-1957) of Westport, Co. Mayo.
The exhibition also explores a very different type of voyage to that offered by shipping lines to the migrating steerage-passengers: one of luxury and style, available to wealthy travellers returning to the Old Country, taking cruises or touring Europe and the Middle East. The glamour of First Class travel is represented through a collection of posters and brochures from the Golden Age of steamships that held the promise of exotic locations and opulent surroundings.
The exhibition has been curated by Dr John Gibbons, Senior Lecturer in the Department of History, Politics and Philosophy at Manchester Metropolitan University.
Updated: 23 April, 2018
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