Ellis Island

Ellis Island

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. [Editor’s Note: A more recent version of this topic can be found here: Ellis Island.]

Ellis Island Foundation4 stars

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 American Immigrant Wall of Honor for your family name, or have it inscribed for a tax-deductible donation.

Ellis Island: Through America's Gateway5 stars

"Immigrants sailed to America in hopes of carving out new destinies for themselves. Most were fleeing religious persecution, political oppression and economic hardships. Thousands of people arrived daily in New York Harbor on steamships from mostly Eastern and Southern Europe. The first and second class passengers were allowed to pass inspection aboard ship and go directly ashore. Only steerage passengers had to take the ferry to Ellis Island for inspection." This fabulous site is peppered with first-person audio tales from those that made the journey. Don't leave without hearing their stories.

History Channel: Ellis Island5 stars

"As you move through this online exhibit, you'll experience Ellis Island as one of the over twelve million people who landed here, seeking to pass through this gateway to a life where hope replaced fear." From your first view of Ellis Island, as it seemingly bobs up and down on the horizon, to the immigration questionnaire ("Who paid your fare?"), to the medical exam, you'll hopefully be approved for admission to the United States. You're almost done. Just down the stairs and you'll arrive at the Kissing Post , so named because of the many happy family reunions that occurred there.

History of Ellis Island4 stars

Following years of ownership disputes between the state of New York and the Ellis family, the federal government purchased Ellis Island on June 8, 1808. "After feverish and difficult preparations, Fort Gibson, a full-scale stronghold boasting thirteen guns and a garrison of 182 gunners, was in place just before the outbreak of the War of 1812. But Fort Gibson wasn't needed. As the years passed, the army and navy had little use for the island. It was used only to store ammunition until, in 1890, it was chosen by the House committee on Immigration as the site of the new Immigrant Station for the Port of New York."

Photo Exhibit: Ellis Island Immigration3 stars

The California Museum of Photography presents this collection of twenty-four stereoscopic Ellis Island photographs from the early 1900's. "These 3D images would have been sold to schools and libraries as well as more wealthy families as educational sets." Online, the two images are presented side-by-side, but at the turn of the century they would have been viewed using a telebinocular stereo viewer to merge the two pictures into one. To learn more about 3D photography, visit the museum's stereograph exhibit.

Honorable Mentions

The following links are either new discoveries or sites that didn't make it into my newspaper column because of space constraints. Enjoy!

Ellis Island Photographs

Cite This Page

Feldman, Barbara. "Ellis Island." Surfnetkids. Feldman Publishing. 27 Jan. 1999. Web. 2 Sep. 2015. <http://www.surfnetkids.com/resources/ellis99/ >.

About This Page

By . Originally published January 27, 1999. Last modified January 27, 1999.

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