What Was The "White Star Lines" Ticketing Policy in 1912?

OK, we had no terrorists in 1912, no TSA, etc. So what was the policy on tickets? Were these tickets typically “bearer instruments”-meaning-could you transfer them easily (as Jack Dawson did, when he won a swede’s ticket in a poker game?
How about cancellations-if you showed up at a ticket office (a few days before your ship sails), and said "gee, I have a bad feeling about this-can I take a ship next week?-would yo be able to reschedule?
Obviously, it would depend upon what class you were booked in-were steerage tickets transferable? Or did yo have to pay a penalty to do so?

I have forwarded your question to a retired travel agent who is also a Titanic fanatic. Will check back Saturday night.

There’s a pic of a third-class ticket with “NON TRANSFERABLE” on it. The smaller type pixelates when I zoom in.

I found it (and pix of other documents, if interested) by running the ixquick search “titanic ticket” “white star”

Yes absolutely they did. 1910 labour activist bombing of LA Times:

1919 anarchist bombings in the US:

1920 wall st bombing:

“Terrorism” goes way back to the 16th century or before.

It was often known as “anarchism” back then and in 1900 both President McKinley and
King Umberto I of Italy were murdered by anarchists.

Although equating anarchism with terrorism is problematic for two reasons. First, many anarchists were explicitly opposed to violence. Second, and more important for this discussion, is that there was also quite a bit of terroristic violence carried out in the service of power and capital. The Ludlow incident is one example, but there are literally dozens of others throughout history.

Of course, if your definition of terrorism explicitly excludes actions carried out by the state or its proxies, then such acts are not, by definition terrorism. But that seems rather too much like a “no true Scotsman” argument to me.

From the retired travel agent
Hi Doug,

Even in 1912 a person travelling internationally would have had to carry some proof of identity and citizenship to show to the Immigration Service before being allowed to enter this country. Further, he would be obligated to show that proof when purchasing his ticket, and would have had to show both the ticket and proof of citizenship to port authorities at the pier prior to boarding his ship. Remember also that most people traveling transoceanic from east to west were emigrating to the USA or Canada and both countries in the early 20th century had strict requirements about who may or may not enter the country. So Jack Dawson, had his story been a true one, would not have been allowed to board Titanic the way he did in the movie. For a typical transatlantic steamship ticket from 1924 go to this website: http://theunguardedasylum.com/Family%20History%20Page%2010.html

And it seems as early as 1873 that tickets were refundable (at a 10% penalty) for up to one year after purchase.

Warm regards,

It’s certainly true that people were supposed to have papers, and that there was a process for checking this sort of thing, but i think it’s something of a stretch to describe America’s immigration requirements in 1912 as “strict,” especially when it comes to the issue of tickets and passports and the sort of stuff we take for granted now.

America, in the first decade or so of the 20th century, experienced one of the largest immigration flows in its history. About 8.8 million immigrants arrived from 1901-1910 (the most ever in a decade, up to that point), and 5.7 million came between 1911 and 1920. The main reason for the lower number in the second decade was the outbreak of World War I.

While the United States had started to restrict immigration from Asia (Chinese Exclusion Act, Geary Act, “Gentleman’s Agreement” with Japan, etc.) in the late 19th and early 20th century, immigration from Europe boomed. By the early 20th century, some American commentators were becoming increasingly concerned that too many immigrants were coming from “undesirable” cultures in southern and eastern Europe, but it wasn’t until the 1917 literacy test and (much more importantly) the immigration restriction laws of 1921 and 1924 that America really got strict about who it let in.

Before this period, the most likely reason for a European, and especially a northern European with white skin, to be denied admission was for health reasons, or if the person was felt to be a security risk (concerns about anarchism, etc.) or unable to work (and thus might become a burden to the nation). Most people satisfied the requirements and were allowed in.

IIRC “Jack” was an American returning home.

Yeah, but could he prove it?

And the ticket would’ve had a different name on it.

The OP question is basically, did they check documents on boarding, or on sale of ticket only?

I guess in the “good old days”, what did you do if you lost your documentation? Also, in 1910, anyone who could successfully pass as an American not european probably might as well be American. It’s not like they had AMerican movies and TV to practice accents from, or the internet to research their fake home town. If almost anyone was let in, who cares?

Presumably Jack had a passport if he got to Europe in the first place. How many Italian emigrants had even a baptismal certificate? What kind of documentation did new American immigrants of that era carry?