Ella Sheldon was a stewardess for the Occidental & Oriental Steamship Company in the early 1890s. Her diaries are filled with descriptions of the places that she visited and the passengers and crew that she worked with. Her first four voyages as a stewardess were on the steamer Belgic under Captain Walker and Captain Bryan. The Belgic sailed from San Francisco to Hong Kong and had stops in other ports in China, Japan, and Hawaii. The last voyage that she writes about is from San Francisco to Panama and back with stops at Mexican ports on the steamer Colon under Captain McKinnon.
Sheldon describes her trips in detail. She includes excursions off the boat at Hong Kong, Nagasaki, Kobe, Yokohama, and Honolulu. She suffered from Malaria and seasickness while on her journeys and had vivid discussions with madams of prostitution, missionaries, and other shipmates. In Hawaii, she learned of the leprosy colonies and was initially unable to go ashore due to the pending revolution. She witnessed a burial at sea and considered changing her diet after seeing the conditions in which beef cattle lived. She is articulate and witty and describes the cities and their residents that she visits in some detail.
Browse the Ella Sheldon Diaries Collections:
February 23, 1893 to April 22, 1893 (#36). May 4, 1893 to July 5, 1893 (#37) to Hong Kong. July 13, 1893 to September 9, 1893 (#38) to Hong Kong. September 21, 1893 to November 18, 1893 (#39) to Hong Kong