The New York Times, 24 March 1912

Trouble with Union Put Steamships' Musicians in Curious Position
The Musicians' Union in England has recently interfered with the bands carried on the Atlantic steamships, and has tried to keep them from sailing because the performers are paid by a musical agency at less than union wages, and are signed on the ship's articles at the pay of one shilling a month.

Before the Olympic left Southampton on March 13 a delegation waited on J. Bruce Ismay, head of the White Star Line, on behalf of the Musicians' Union, and stated their objections. The bandsmen, they said, were sailing with less than the union scale of pay, and depending on tips from the passengers to make up the difference.

Mr. Ismay responded that if the union objected to the White Star Line carrying its bandsmen as members of the crew at a shilling a month the company would carry them as passengers.

When the Olympic arrived on Wednesday afternoon her five musicians were down on the passenger manifest as second cabin passengers, and were all supplied with regular tickets, which they gave up for the regulation landing cards.

The musicians had to pass examination before the immigration officials, and answer questions put to the aliens in the usual way, and produce $50 in cash to show that they were not destitute. The no. 4 head tax was paid for them also by the company. This was reclaimed by the White Star Line agents after the Olympic sailed with her five bandsmen booked again as second cabin passengers for Southampton. This method takes them out of the jurisdiction of the Captain, as they are not members of the crew.


Like the Archie Butt article I posted a while back, finding this one was just dumb luck. It just so happened that this occurred in the same month as Oceanic's lost propeller blade, which we were discussing in another thread. While looking for the damaged prop, I inadvertently came across music.

The Sun, New York, 14 July 1912
Original article digitized by the New York Public Library
Retrieved from the Library of Congress' Chronicling America web site,

Passengers Make Them Surrender Collection to Seamen's Fund

Special Cable to THE SUN
Paris, July 13--There was a fine shindy aboard the White Star liner Olympic
last Thursday night, the details of which just have been learned.

After $468 had been collected at the usual ship's concert by Miss Hernandez,
a Cuban, another girl from that island handed the money to the ship's
orchestra. Then Capt. Debat of Johannesburg and a fellow organizer of the
concert suggested that the money should be handed over to the Seamen's Fund.

The musicians refused to give up. Capt. Haddock of the Olympic declined to
interfere, whereupon Capt. Debat and two passengers are said to have
thrashed several of the musicians and made them surrender the money.

The passengers were indignant over the action of the musicians.