Julius’s Voyage, 1911

My grandfather, Julius Helfer, immigrated to the United States in 1911, to be followed in 1912 by his wife and children. He sailed on S.S. Kronprinz Wilhelm, leaving Bremen on 29 August and arriving in New York on 5 September. The chart below shows the ship’s course, its location on each day, and the distance traveled from each location to the next.

Voyage of Kronprinz Wilhelm, August/September 1911

Kronprinz Wilhelm, August/September 1911

I don’t know who created this chart. When I found it in a box of old family papers and photographs some years ago I assumed that my grandfather had been given the blank map, then charted the ship’s position from daily announcements to the passengers. But after looking more carefully, I’m sure I was mistaken. The curve is much too smooth to have been drawn by a passenger unfamiliar with ocean navigation; it seems more likely that the ship’s navigator or an assistant drew it, probably at the end of the voyage. Was this a common souvenir that would have been given, or sold, to any ship’s passenger? I’m afraid I’m a bit more than 50 years too late to ask.


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