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Title: The immigration offices and statistics from 1857 to 1903

Author: Argentine Ministry of Agriculture

Release Date: March 23, 2012 [EBook #39230]

Language: English

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Argentine coat of arms



Immigration Department

The Immigration Offices
Statistics from 1857 to 1903



Universal Exhibition of St. Louis (U. S. A.)

The Head Offices are situated in Alsina Street No. 624 Buenos Aires, where information can be obtained either verbally or by correspondence in different languages by those who wish to establish themselves in the Argentine Republic.


Printing Establishment of the Argentine Weather Bureau


Duties of the Immigration Department subject to which immigrants can avail themselves of the benefits of the Immigration Law

The Immigration Department under the control of the Ministry of Agriculture, has the direction of all relating thereto in the Argentine Republic, and is organized to correspond to the special services related to it, which are ruled by the organic Law of 16th. October 1876.

Managing Staff in Buenos Aires

The managing staff is composed of a Chief and a head clerk, and further more the Secretary’s Department, Archives, Accountants Department, Treasury, Statistics, Interpreters office for verbal information and foreign correspondence, Disembarking office, Labour and Forwarding office, Immigration Hotel, Hospital and Medical service, and Post and Telegraph office, all of which are established in Buenos Aires.

Auxiliary Commissions in all the Argentine Territory

To attend the requirements of the service in the Interior, there are 42 Auxiliary Commissions established in the principal cities and towns of importance.

(Articles 6, 7 and 8, Chapter III of the Law.)


In the Archives of the Department, a careful Register is kept of all administrative papers, studies, observations and documents of ships transporting immigrants, and a list of all those entered since the year 1857.

Accountant’s and Treasury Departments

The Accountant’s Department and the Treasury have under their charge the financial part of the administration and keep account of all amounts spent in lodging and transport of immigrants and their baggage, payment of wages to employés and other expenses. (Article 3 paragraph 13.)


The Statistical Office keeps minute statistics of the immigrants arriving in the country, classifying annually and monthly the arrivals and departures of steamers, stating date, flag, number of passengers and immigrants with a summary of the immigration movement; steamers inspected, ports of procedure, classification of immigrants according to nationality, profession, sexe, age; monthly, annually and quinquennially; sexagenarians entered; births and deaths on board, immigrants entered at the Hotel and settling of immigrants in the interior.

Interpreters Office

In the Interpreters office there are employés who speak several languages: verbal information is given to all immigrants who ask for it. It provides information regarding lands offered for sale and has charge of the foreign correspondence.

Labour and Forwarding Office

The Labour and Forwarding Office receives inquiries for workmen from all parts of the country, and, according to such inquiries, undertakes the placing of the immigrants who come to the Hotel, asking for lodging and employment. This office provides the immigrants with the information they solicit about the different districts of the country, means of communication, wages etc. It undertakes the forwarding of the immigrants and their distribution in the regions to which they desire to be sent, and all other work connected with these services. (Articles 9, 10 and 11 and 48 to 54 of the Law.)

Immigrants Hotel in Buenos Aires
View taken from the River

Landing Superintendents

The Disembarking Office consists of Inspectors who go on board the vessels to receive and classify the immigrants, and see if the ships have complied with the conditions of the Law regarding vessels carrying immigrants, and also to impede the entry of those which said Law prohibits (Chapter VI, Articles 18 to 37 and the Regulation agreed upon of 4th. March 1880.)

Immigrants Hotel or Home

Those who avail themselves of the benefits of the Law, are lodged in the Immigrants Hotel whilst work is procured for them, which is done immediately.

The Hotel is provided with the accommodation and service necessary to meet this requirement.

It has separate dormitories for each sex, ample dining rooms, lavatories, and a police service to contribute in maintaining order and also a corps of firemen to prevent conflagrations. (Chapter VIII of the Law, Articles 42 to 47.)

Hotel Interpreters

The Hotel is provided with interpreters of all languages, to mediate between the immigrants, and the Hotel employés and the Labour and Forwarding Office.

Medical Assistance

Sick immigrants and members of their families are attended at all hours by the Medical staff of the Hotel, which is further more provided with an Infirmary supplied with all the most necessary medicaments.

Immigrants Hotel in Buenos Aires
View taken from the City

Customs Service

To facilitate the despatch of immigrants baggage, the Custom House has an office in the Hotel which carrys out all the corresponding operations.

By means of this organization, which meets all the exigencies of the immigration in the Argentine Republic, the immigrants are given all the advantages accorded by the Immigration Law hereunder transcribed.



Art. 9.—The Immigration-Office in Buenos Aires and the Commissions at their various head quarters shall, whenever it may be necessary, have placed under their direct control a Labour and Employment-Office to be served by such a number of clerks as may be fixed in the Budget.

Art. 10.—These Offices are bound and empowered:

1. To attend to such applications of teachers, artisans, journeymen or workmen as may be sent in to them.

2. To secure advantageous terms for the employment of immigrants, and to see that such employment be given by people of good repute.

3. To intervene at the request of the immigrants in such agreements as to work as said immigrants may make, and to see to their strict observance on the part of masters.

4. To write down in a special register the number of the procured employments, mentioning the date, the sort of work, the conditions of the contract, and the names of the persons that may have intervened in it.

Art. 11.—At such places where there are no Employment-Offices, the duties incumbent on these shall be carried out by the Commissions of Immigration.

Immigrants Hotel in Buenos Aires
Interior of a yard



Art. 12.—By the effects of this Law, every foreigner under sixty years of age, whether he be a journeyman, artisan, labourer, tradesman or teacher, who proves his morality and capacities, shall be considered an immigrant, on arriving in the Republic, to establish himself in it, either in a steamer or sailing vessel, paying his own 2nd. or 3rd. class passage, or having it paid by the State, the Provinces, or by private societies protecting immigration and colonisation.

Art. 13.—Those persons to whom these conditions apply and who do not desire to profit by the advantages offered to the immigrants, shall let it be known to the captain of the ship at the moment of their embarking, when he will note it in the ship’s register, or communicate it to the maritime authorities of the landing port: in this case, those persons shall be considered as simple travellers.

This disposition is not meant for those immigrants who may come engaged in this capacity for the colonies or other places in the Republic.

Art. 14.—Every immigrant on giving sufficient proof of his good conduct and fitness for any occupation, art or usefull trade, will be entitled, on his arrival to the following special privileges:

1. To be boarded and lodged at the expense of the Nation during the time fixed by articles 45, 46 and 47.

2. To have employment given him in such calling or trade as there may be in the country, and which he may prefer.

3. To be transported at the expense of the Nation to such locality in the Republic as he may select for his residence.

4. To import free of duty articles for personal use, clothing, furniture for domestic purposes, agricultural implements, tools, utensils, instruments of such arts and trades as they may exercise, and one fowling piece to each adult immigrant, of such value as may be fixed by the Executive.

Art. 15.—The dispositions of the preceding article shall be extended as far as they can be applied, to the wives and to the children of the immigrants, if grown up, provided they can give proof of their morality and industrious aptitudes.

Art. 16.—The good conduct and industrious capacities of the immigrants can be proved by certificates given by the Consuls or Immigration Agents of the Republic abroad, or by a certificate from the authorities of the immigrant’s residence, legalized by the said Consuls or Immigration Agents of the Republic.

Immigrants Hotel in Buenos Aires
Interior of the yard of the dormitories



Art. 42.—In the cities of Buenos Aires, Rosario, and at all such others where, owing to the number of immigrants, it may be necessary, there shall be a house for their temporary lodgment.

Art. 44.—At such places where there should not be any houses for the accommodation of immigrants, the respective Commissions shall proceed to board and lodge the same in public hotels or in other suitable ways.

Art. 45.—Immigrants shall be entitled to suitable board and lodging, at the expense of the Nation, for five days after landing.

Art. 46.—In case of serious illness which should render it impossible for them to remove to another habitation, at the expiration of the said five days, the expense of the succeeding board and lodging shall continue to be met by the State, as long as the said illness continues.

Except in such cases, the continuance of immigrants at the Establishment for more than five days shall be at their own expense, at the rate of half a national gold dollar a day for every person more than 8 years old, and 25 cents for every child under that age.

Art. 47.—The regulations contained in the preceding articles do not include immigrants having contracts with the Government in connection with the Colonies. All such will be entitled to board and lodging free of charge until transported to their destination.

Immigrants Hotel in Buenos Aires
Office for admittance and passports



Art. 48.—The Employment-Offices or the Immigration-Commissions in their stead, shall use their best endeavours to provide immigrants with employment in such art, trade or calling as they may prefer.

Art. 49.—Such employment shall be procured if possible within five days after the immigrant’s arrival, and on as favourable terms as possible.

Art. 50.—The Employment-Offices or the Immigration-Commissions in their stead shall, at the request of the interested parties, intervene in such contracts for employment as they may make, with a view to securing their fulfillment for the immigrant.

Art. 51.—Any immigrant who should prefer to fix his residence in any of the interior Provinces of the Republic, or at any of its Colonies, will be at once transported with his family and luggage to such place, as he may select, free of all charge.

Art. 52.—In case of an immigrant going to the Provinces, he will be entitled on arrival at his destination, to be lodged and boarded for ten days by the Immigration-Commission. At the expiration of this time, he shall pay half a national gold dollar a day for every person over 8 years old, and 25 cents for every child under that age, except in case of illness, when he would continue to be maintained at the expense of the Government as long as the said illness lasts.

Art. 54.—The immigrants can on no pretence whatever, profit by the privileges granted by the preceding articles, to pass through the territory of the Republic to a foreign country, under penalty of repaying all the expenses that have been occasioned for their passage, landing, board, lodging and transport.

Immigrants Hotel in Buenos Aires
Office for employment and free transport of the immigrants to the provinces

Reception of immigrants in the Argentine Republic.


Each ship that arrives in the country bringing immigrants, 2nd. and 3rd. class passengers, according to Law, is visited and inspected by a Commission comprising the Immigration Inspector, Board of Health doctor and Coast Guard officer, who examine the hygiene and healthiness of the ship, accommodation, provisioning during the voyage, supply of medicines, and as to whether a doctor or chemist is carried; if or no a greater number of passengers were carried than the accommodation allows; if the measurements of the deck, sparedeck and of the berths are in accordance with the Law; if there is sufficient ventilation, supply of firehose and cooking utensils, life belts and life boats; if there are passengers with contagious diseases; if passengers have been embarqued at ports where there is an epidemic; if any part of the cargo is inflamable or unhealthy, and, finally, receive any protest of the passengers of bad treatment and obtain from the Captain the documents he should deliver, showing cognoscence of the Immigration Law, and any incidents that have happened on the voyage. This is done in the interest of the immigrants.


The immigrants are carefully questioned and classified to find out their trades and means, note being taken of those who do not wish to come under the Immigration Law, their passports then being stamped «passenger only», as also are stamped «former resident» the passports of those who come under that heading.

Once the passports revised by the officials, those immigrants admited under the Law, are handed over to the receiving officials of the Immigrants Hotel who attend to them, placing them in trams, which take them to the Hotel. The baggage is taken on trucks to the same place by the Hotel porters.

Immigrants Hotel in Buenos Aires
Group of immigrants

Arriving at the Hotel, the names of the immigrants are entered in the Hotel register and they are given a lodging ticket valid for five days, which can be prolonged in case of sickness. The immigrants are comfortably lodged, the women and children in separate rooms to the men. The baggage is taken by the Hotel porters to a deposit where it is revised by the Custom House Officers, specially.


The rations given to the immigrants are of the best, and in the following proportions per day, per adult: meat 600 grams, bread 500 grams, potatoes, carrots or cabbage (alternately) 150; rice, maccaroni, or beans (alternately) 100; sugar 25 and coffee 10 grams; milk is given to the children. The food is cooked by steam and is served by the Hotel attendants in a large dining room.


There is an Infirmary in the Hotel where patients are carefully attended; children as well as adults can be vaccinated. There is a staff of doctors, students, sicknurses, and a chemist’s fully equiped with medicines and disinfectants.


On arrival, the immigrants are questioned as to what part of the country they wish to go, and are offered work by the Employment Office, in accordance with the inquiries for workmen received, full information of which, of wages paid and other conditions are carefully entered up in books kept for that purpose. If there are no enquiries for workmen in the particular trade of an immigrant looking for employment, this Office undertakes to find him work by either directing him to Works and Factories or by telegraphing enquiries to the Interior. Immigrants are warned, should they wish to go to any part of the country where there is no opening for one in their trade.

No persuasion is used to induce immigrants to go to any particular part of the country, it is left to them to decide.

Immigrants Hotel in Buenos Aires
Group of immigrants

The immigrants placed up country or who wish to join their relations, are taken care of by forwarding Agents who remit their luggage properly labeled, note down the immigrants so forwarded, provide them with tickets and see them on to the train or river steamers.


The immigrants who go to the Provinces or National Territories to be settled, are met on arrival of the train by the Secretary of the Branch Office, boarded and lodged for ten days until they are settled or leave for some fixed destination. If they should have to change trains, they are looked after by this Official in the same way as in the Federal Capital, from the arrival of one train until the departure of the one in which they continue their journey.


For the better handing of the immigrants correspondence and in order that the Head Office and National Employment Office can transmit without delay, orders and instructions all over the Republic, there is a Post and Telegraph Office in the Immigration Hotel.


The four following returns, summarize the Argentine Immigration movement from 1857 to 1903.

In those relating to the entry and nationality of immigrants, the information corresponding to the years running from 1857 to 1903 is given, and in those which refer to their trades and forwarding to the interior, the information has been taken corresponding to the last decade, this lapse of time being sufficiently demonstrative.

Immigrants Hotel in Buenos Aires
Part of the dining-hall
Provinces and Territories 1894 1895 1896 1897 1898 1899 1900 1901 1902 1903 Total
Federal Capital 545 683 1.209 589 876 1.736 3.077 2.739 635 449 12.538
Buenos Aires 3.071 4.212 12.028 8.471 7.503 9.991 10.213 12.982 9.828 13.447 91.746
Entre Rios 2.345 2.129 814 1.190 1.184 1.575 1.456 1.151 677 317 12.838
Corrientes 101 115 114 455 293 194 117 225 118 46 1.778
Santa Fé 11.801 10.143 13.077 6.273 6.577 9.647 9.336 12.628 7.440 10.115 97.037
Córdoba 2.413 2.198 2.995 1.958 2.659 3.951 3.581 4.002 1.768 2.973 28.498
Tucumán 802 387 898 1.173 456 514 590 1.576 366 366 7.128
Santiago del Estero 76 51 291 149 165 141 99 132 82 73 1.259
Salta 19 36 47 237 345 224 94 76 31 61 1.170
JuJuy 18 10 104 38 17 69 41 273 72 216 858
Catamarca 11 29 19 16 8 14 14 35 10 5 161
La Rioja 25 12 20 14 43 22 20 28 25 209
San Luis 46 91 183 207 95 129 129 159 124 76 1.239
Mendoza 566 665 1.973 2.569 1.365 1.695 2.183 4.160 1.521 757 17.454
San Juan 137 155 270 390 252 269 354 190 155 82 2.254
Chaco 34 6 20 105 112 21 24 41 27 12 402
Misiones 30 13 7 72 254 509 1.136 1.738 1.083 81 4.923
Tierra del Fuego 16 54 41 19 8 9 17 7 17 188
Chubut 11 25 10 84 22 13 56 75 153 239 688
Santa Cruz 11 1 40 44 18 24 54 85 59 54 390
Formosa 47 5 13 116 50 16 20 35 25 1 328
Pampa Central 7 17 63 160 93 117 145 181 173 349 1.305
Río Negro 1 55 293 69 34 42 198 73 63 828
Neuquen 27 13 16 17 29 39 11 152
  22.092 21.012 34.323 24.663 22.446 30.950 32.809 42.747 24.494 29.835 285.371
Immigrants Hotel in Buenos Aires
Part of the kitchen
Years Countries beyond the sea Montevideo Total
1857 4.951 4.951
1858 4.658 4.658
1859 4.735 4.735
1860 5.656 5.656
1861 6.301 6.301
1862 6.716 6.716
1863 10.408 10.408
1864 11.682 11.682
1865 11.767 11.767
1866 13.696 13.696
1867 13.225 3.821 17.046
1868 25.919 3.315 29.234
1869 28.958 8.976 37.934
1870 30.898 9.069 39.967
1871 14.626 6.307 20.933
1872 26.208 10.829 37.037
1873 48.382 27.950 76.332
1874 40.674 27.603 68.277
1875 18.532 23.534 42.066
1876 14.532 16.433 30.965
1877 14.675 21.650 36.325
1878 23.624 19.334 42.958
1879 32.717 22.438 55.155
1880 26.643 15.008 41.651
1881 31.431 16.053 47.484
1882 41.041 10.462 51.503
1883 52.472 10.771 63.243
1884 49.623 28.182 77.805
1885 80.618 28.104 108.722
1886 65.655 27.461 93.116
1887 98.898 21.944 120.842
1888 (a)  130.271 25.361 155.632
1889 (a)  218.744 42.165 260.909
1890 (a)    77.815 32.779 110.594
1891 28.266 23.831 52.097
1892 39.973 33.321 73.294
1893 52.067 32.353 84.420
1894 54.720 25.951 80.671
1895 61.226 19.762 80.988
1896 102.673 32.532 135.205
1897 72.978 32.165 105.143
1898 67.130 28.060 95.190
1899 84.442 26.641 111.083
1900 84.851 21.051 105.902
1901 90.127 35.824 125.951
1902 57.992 38.088 96.080
1903 75.227 37.444 112.671
  2.158.423 846.572 3.004.995

(a)—With assisted passages.

General Total (including first class passengers) 3.685.430.

Agriculturers 312.723 Workmen 118.223
Masons 8.500 Gardeners 923
Upper cutters 898 Brickmakers 262
Surveyors 16 Lithographers 37
Architects 12 Marble-cutters 59
Fitters 81 Sailors 7.739
Sawers 127 Engine drivers 445
Barbers 1.332 Mechanics 2.113
Coal-men 99 Milliners 6.051
Butchers 725 Millers 605
Carpenters 7.142 Musicians 796
Coppersmiths 439 Miners 1.272
Cooks (male, female) 9.265 Physicians 41
Confectioners 500 Furniture makers 92
Merchants 30.996 Bakers 2.382
Dressmakers 28.194 Stone cutters 1.208
Tanners 691 Painters 926
Coachmen 149 Laundresses 8.749
Calkers 54 Fishermen 112
Quarry-men 255 Teachers 12
Clerks 10.755 Watchmakers 372
Gilders 99 Tailors 4.985
Draftsmen 41 Without trade (children) 113.433
Joiners 604 Without trade (women) 8.111
Electricians 711 Servants (male, female) 28.450
Bookbinders 77 Hatters 501
Sculptors 43 Weavers (male, female) 6.546
Firemen 793 Typographers 481
Apothecaries 352 Coopers 316
Photographers 65 Turners 103
Cattle breeders 690 Dyers 62
Engravers 113 Harness makers 133
Glovers 76 Viner, winemakers 403
Smiths 3.546 Veterinaries 33
Tinsmiths 548 Plasterers 100
Printers 38 Shoemakers 6.094
Engineers 17 Other trades 8.430
Transcriber’s Note: To make the following table easier to read on the screen it has been transposed to show Years as column headings and Nationalities as row headings.
Years 1857-59 1860-69 1870-79 1880-89 1890-99 1900 1901 1902 1903 Total
Italians 9.006 93.802 156.746 475.179 411.674 52.143 58.314 32.314 42.358 1.331.536
Spaniards 2.440 20.169 44.802 148.394 124.891 20.383 18.066 13.911 21.917 414.973
French 720 6.360 32.938 78.914 40.544 3.160 2.788 2.378 2.491 170.293
Austrians 226 819 3.469 16.479 8.681 2.024 2.742 2.135 1.378 37.953
English 359 3.603 9.265 15.692 4.691 421 439 405 560 35.435
Germans 178 1.212 3.522 12.958 9.204 760 836 1.029 1.000 30.699
Russians       3.837 15.665 2.119 2.086 1.753 1.429 26.889
Swiss 219 1.562 6.203 11.659 4.875 355 363 267 272 25.775
Belgians 68 519 628 15.096 2.654 117 117 148 174 19.521
Dutch       4.303 675 43 35 37 72 5.165
Portuguese       1.751 1.612 205 156 141 202 4.067
Danes       1.097 1.230 121 175 187 139 2.949
North Americans       1.094 794 89 151 132 93 2.353
Swedes       613 441 10 18 21 24 1.127
Others 1.128 6.282 7.295 8.330 13.659 2.901 3.841 3.134 3.118 49.688
  14.344 134.328 264.868 795.396 641.290 84.851 90.127 57.992 75.227 2.158.423

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