Red Star Line Museum seeks letters sent by Flemish emigrants to America

Summary

The museum dedicated to the shipping line that took millions of people from Antwerp to the US is looking for written correspondence sent back to Europe from the New World

Language research

Antwerp’s Red Star Line Museum, which relates the story of the passenger ships that took millions of Europeans to the New World, is looking for letters, postcards, diaries or other written documents sent by Flemish immigrants to the United States.

The museum is working together with the Vrij Universiteit Brussel (VUB) on a project to identify how the English language influenced Flemish settlers in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The researchers are looking for letters or other written documents the new Americans might have sent back home to family and friends in Flanders.

While these Flemish emigrants don’t have to have travelled on a Red Star Line ship, the researchers are focused on letters and postcards from the period in which the ship operated, which is between 1873 and 1934. “This will allow the museum to capture and register more stories,” said the museum in a statement. “Doctoral student Yasmin Crombez will pour over the documents to research how the Flemish language was influenced by American English following the migration.”

The museum is inviting anyone with such written correspondence to bring it along on 29 March. Participants will be treated to cake and can leave their original documents with the museum if they want. If they prefer not to, the documents will be scanned.

Participants can also talk to Crombez and the museum’s team about their relatives and the correspondence. They can visit the museum for free that day. Those interested are asked to call or email the museum to reserve a time slot: 03 298 27 83 or redstarline@antwerpen.be.