Was there really a shortage of marriage-minded women in the United States in the early 1900s? Apparently rumors had been circulating in Europe that American men couldn’t find wives.
With this in mind, just over 1,000 “maids” (one is photographed at left) booked passage on a New York–bound ship that arrived on September 27, 1907.
“When the White Star liner Baltic tied up at the foot of West Eleventh Street yesterday morning 1,002 young women tripped down the gangplank and looked about them for husbands,” wrote The New York Times.
“Purser H.B. Palmer of the Baltic when asked about his cargo said: ‘They’re here all right. We took on a bunch of them at Liverpool and gathered in over 700 more when we reached Queenstown.
“You ought to have seen them come up the side of the ship. They did it just as if they expected to find husbands awaiting them on the steerage deck.'”
The Washington Post covered the story too, noting that “each one of the fair consignment was handsome, and study and buxum. . , , They were all sizes and ages and complexions, but each knew her mind.”
According to the Times, the girls were aiming higher than steerage. Some said they hoped to marry a railroad engineer, skyscraper builder, or “a Pittsburgh millionaire.”