Today's online field trip takes us to Ellis Island, which served as the portal to almost all American immigrants arriving between 1892 and 1954. Although some were turned away, 98 percent of those examined at Ellis Island were allowed into the country. In 1938, my mother, along with her mother and father, were among the new arrivals.
Under the leadership of Lee Iacocca, the nonprofit Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation restored the Ellis Island Main Building and created the Ellis Island Immigration Museum. "The Museum tells the inspiring story of the largest human migration in modern history. Between 1892 and 1954, twelve million immigrants were processed at Ellis Island. Today more than 40 percent, or over 100 million, of all living Americans can trace their roots to an ancestor who came through Ellis Island." Are you the descendant of an Ellis Island immigrant? Search the Ellis Island/Port of New York Records for your family. The search function is free, but registration is required to view the results.
Ellis Island is explored from many different perspectives in this collection of twenty-two videos. Topics covered include The Statue of Liberty, Taking the Citizenship Oath, as well as tours of Ellis Island, and a look at the "dark underbelly" of Ellis Island as seen through the eyes of photo journalist Stephen Wilkes. The front page only shows thumbnails of a few of the videos. To see the complete set, first click "Videos (22)" then select "Show All." The interactive exhibit Then and Now, shows side-by-side photos of Ellis Island (one hundred years ago and present day) taken from the inside, the outside, and from the air.
"William Williams (1862-1947) collected these photographs while he was Commissioner of Immigration for the Port of New York at Ellis Island, 1902-5 and 1909-13; they came to the [New York Public] Library with the bequest of his papers." Photographers were drawn to Ellis Island because of the variety of human stories found there. To view the pictures, click "See all Images." From the first thumbnail view, you'll need to click twice to see a full-size photo. Now you can use the Next and Previous buttons to scroll through the entire collection.
For elementary students, this interactive lesson from PBS KIDS tells the history of New York city. From the front page, you can jump directly to the Ellis Island article, Gateway for Millions. Click on "Historical Document" to read a first-person account of Marie Ganz's entry into the states. "I was only five years old when in the summer of 1896 we joined [my father] in America, but I remember well the day when he met us at Ellis Island. He was like a stranger to me, for I had been not much more than a baby when he left us on our Galician farm."
This interactive slide show from Scholastic.com is my pick of the week. The story of Ellis Island is told through photos, audio, and video. The clickable map guides you through seven stops, from Arrival to Journey's End. Along the way you'll learn about Ellis Island, as it was experienced by the millions of immigrants that passed through it. "The single busiest day in Ellis Island history came on April 17, 1907, when 11,747 immigrants were processed for admission into the United States. Some of them had been waiting days just to get on to the island."