4. How do you read a manifest record?
This particular manifest record is from the SS Atenas ship which sailed from Kingston, Jamaica, on January 11th, 1920, and arrived in New York on January 16th, 1920. And whats particularly interesting about this document are two women, Miss Edith McKinney and Miss Mary McKinney. Miss Edith McKinney was 25 years old and Miss Mary McKinney is 29 years old. Both of them were single and declared their occupations to be servants. Both of them also noted that theyre West Indian. However, African was scribbled on top of their declaration of their race. On the portion of the record that asked, Who were they going to join in the United States? they both note that theyre going to join employers. And this really brings up a fascinating aspect of West Indian women going to the United States. Some of the women went because they had signed a contract with employers in the United States, and so their passage was paid by the employer. And thats noted here on the manifest record. And they then had to work off the money for the ticket. But again it points to so many issues in terms of women being domestic servants in Jamaica, continuing that occupation as domestic servants in the United States. By looking at this document, youll see that they note that theyre black and they also note that they are literate, that they can both read and write English.
Most West Indians, easily as high as 99 percent of West Indians immigrants, were literate. Theyd contracted themselves to work for American employers although they were literate women.