Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Who is this girl?

Recently, we received an email from the historians at the Red Star Line Museum in Antwerp. The Museum is currently under construction, and is slated to open in 2013. It's named for an ocean passenger line which brought more than two million European immigrants to the U.S. in the early 20th Century. The Museum will re-purpose Red Star's customs and passenger processing facilities, telling the stories of the many families who traveled through the site on their way to new lives in the U.S.

The Museum's historians are currently seeking the identity of a young immigrant girl in a photograph dating to about 1905. The young passenger holds a Red Star Line ticket in her hand.

Young Galician immigrant holding envelope labelled "Red Star Line"
Saint John, New Brunswick, May 1905

The photo is beautiful, intriguing, even a bit haunting, but very little is known about its origins. It hints at just one of the museum's many stories. Though it was taken in Canada, it's possible the passenger and her family went on to the U.S., like so many others. The Canadian archives identify her as Galician (of an ethnic group located in the north-west of Spain), but her precise origins are unknown.

Through social media and other online platforms, the museum hopes it can connect this girl to a larger story by identifying her family and tracing their lives to the city they ultimately settled in. As an incentive, the successful sleuth can win a trip for two to Antwerp! To participate, visit


  1. Galicia was also an area in what is now Poland and Ukraine. It would probably make more sense if the girl was from this region given immigration patterns of the era. Here's some more info about Galicia:

  2. She was probably Ukrainian, not from an area near Spain. There's more information about immigrants to Canada from this region at this website:


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