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Looking at ship passenger manifests and a related "Record of Detained Aliens", and in the "Cause of detention" column is sometimes listed "To call". To call what and why?

Examples are:

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The answer to your question is hidden in one of your examples.

Example 1

The post "Katie Scahill - SS Carmania - Record Of Detained Alien - Port Of New York" contains a link to an article from the January/February 2003 Ancestry magazine which was previously hosted on Ancestry. This article can be accessed via the Wayback Machine and on Google Books.

In "Proving Family Lore on the High Seas", John Philip Colletta, Ph.D. wrote:

Record of Detained Aliens. A "Record of Detained Aliens" lists the passengers who were detained at the immigrant receiving station for reasons not requiring a hearing by a Board of Special Inquiry. The "Cause of Detention" is almost always a lack of sufficient funds that was remedied with a phone call. These passengers were admitted as soon as money arrived

Colletta refers to a phone call, but in some time periods "to tel" may refer to sending a telegram.

The image of the Record of Detained Aliens page in the manifest showing Katie Scahill's entry is here: Katie Scahill discovered in New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957.

Her entries in the main manifest are on line 30, at the very bottom of the pages: Left Page Right Page

Some of the microfilm images show the reverse sides of the manifest pages. Some images have some of the instructions for filling out the sheets, but there doesn't appear to be an image with the instructions for the pages for Detainees. Further research is needed to see if a technical bulletin survives that would have the answer.

Example 2

On the other hand, looking at the ISTG example, some entries are transcribed "Cause of Detention- to call" and some say "Cause of Detention - to tel $" so the entries that say "To Call" without the money reference may have referred to a different reason (i.e. the passenger needed to be met by a family member or sponsor, the people mentioned in the "Disposition" column).

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