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New York City and the History of Ellis Island
What is Ellis Island?
Located where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Hudson River, Ellis Island was the perfect place to stop and process boats entering the United States; Thus Ellis Island opened as a federal immigration station in 1892. All immigrants would wait in long medical and legal inspection lines. If they passed inspections, they were allowed to come into the United States; if they didn’t pass, they were put on the next ship out. Many families were split up due to medical issues that prevented individual family members from entering. Today, Ellis Island houses a museum paying tribute to these immigrants. Visitors can expect to see pictures, documents, and rooms recreated to look like the original processing areas. Many of the museum’s visitors are descendants of the original immigrants and come with the hope of catching a glimpse of a document or item that connected their ancestors’ experiences.
- The National Park Service Frequently Asked Questions – The National Park Service answers all of your frequently asked questions about Ellis Island here, including what it is.
- Ellis Island Facts and Information – Visit the Encyclopedia.com’s website to learn the history of Ellis Island.
- Ellis Island: Facts About the Immigration Center and Beyond – AM New York does an excellent job detailing the history of Ellis Island.
- New York Harbor Parks: Ellis Island – Discover what you will see on Ellis Island today as well as its history here on this New York Harbor Parks website.
- Coming to America: Ellis Island and New York City – The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History shares the history of Ellis Island and New York City.
Why is Ellis Island Significant?
Ellis Island played a significant role in the populating the United States. Between 1900 and 1914 the United States saw its largest growth of immigrants moving here to become Americans and many of them came through immigration on Ellis Island. During this time it was common for between 5,000 and 10,000 immigrants to pass through Ellis Island every day. This increase was due to dire circumstances in their home countries where they saw poverty, depression, civil dispute, and more.
- The Immigration to the United States: Ellis Island – The Immigration to the United States explains the significance of the very first immigration station located on Ellis Island.
- Ellis Island: The Golden Door – Teaching American History in Maryland offers a detailed history of the significance of Ellis Island here.
- Faiths and Freedom: Ellis Island – For many Ellis Island represents the American dream. However, Faiths and Freedom presents support for why Ellis Island wasn’t always thought of in that manner.
- Ellis Island’s Visitor Center – Discover not only the significance of Ellis Island but also the significance of women’s role in immigration through Ellis Island here.
- United States Immigration Station – Here readers are presented with the details as to how Ellis Island played a significant role in limiting the number of Chinese allowed to enter the United States.
What is Genealogy?
Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines genealogy as “an account of the descent of a person, family, or group from an ancestor or from older forms.” Another way to define it would be to say “a record of a family tree.” Like the definition the process of discovering one’s genealogy also varies. Some people search the Internet and hit up every genealogy website they can find. Others search for city, county, state, or country records by visiting their records departments. Some search libraries and news archives. And still, others rely on the memories of their family members and stories they have told. However, the best genealogies are a compilation of all of these sources with each one supporting the other’s information.
- Genealogy Definition – Dictionary.com defines genealogy in a way that readers can easily understand.
- What is Genealogy? (PDF) – An interesting read is Mark Bevir’s interpretation of genealogy published in the Journal of the Philosophy of History.
- Encyclopedia Britannica: Genealogy – Explore how the Encyclopedia Britannica explains genealogy.
- The History of Genealogy – The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services tells the history of genealogy here.
- History Detectives Special Investigations: Genealogy – Discover the meaning of genealogy and how to successfully track down genealogies.
What Can We Learn From Ellis Island Records?
It doesn’t matter if what your heritage or background, you may work for or own a New York City Cleaning Services with a long family history in New York, or you simply love history, the records from Ellis Island can provide anyone with a multitude of information. First, you can learn the name of every immigrant that traveled from a foreign country to the United States via Ellis Island from 1892 to 1954. However, their names may be listed differently that your family recalls; this is due to the confusion with pronunciation and spelling. For example, if you are looking for someone with the name of Wieslaw their name may be recorded as Wesley or Wilson. Other than names you can learn the location that people migrated from giving you details on how to track your lineage farther back. Also, pictures were taken during processing which makes those images critical to the person looking to discover their genealogy.
- The First Immigrant Landed on Ellis Island January 1, 1892 – America’s Story from America’s Library presents a detailed recap of the very first immigrant who arrived in the United States through Ellis Island.
- Ellis Island Records – Laurel County Public Library provides information on searching Ellis Island Records here.
- An Index of Sephardic Immigrants Arriving at Ellis Island – The Foundation for Advancement of Sephardic Studies and Culture presents the passenger manifests for Ellis Island which is a great resource to a genealogist.
- Ellis Island National Monument: Your Ancestors – Here readers learn about ancestors and Ellis Island, and discover how they can check immigration records.
- Ellis Island Isn’t to Blame for Your Family’s Name Change – The Smithsonian explains why the longstanding myth that immigrants names were changed on Ellis Island isn’t the fault of the immigration department.
Other Ellis Island and Family History Resources:
- Ellis Island History Facts – Check out this distinguished list of history facts about Ellis Island.
- Ellis Island History – The Statue of Liberty – Ellis Island Foundation presents a detailed timeline of the history of Ellis Island on this website.
- History: Ellis Island – Here readers find information on immigration and Ellis Island.
- What American Immigrants Looked Like When They Arrived on Ellis Island – The Washington Post displays images of immigrants on arrival to Ellis Island.
- Selected Images of Ellis Island and Immigration, ca. 1880-1920 – The Library of Congress presents a collection of images from Ellis Island from 1880- 1920.
- Ellis Island’s Busiest Day Ever was 110 Years Ago: Here’s Why – Time issued an article explaining how the busiest day at Ellis Island was April 17, 1907, and explains why that day was so busy.
- Ellis Island – Learn about the Jewish history and how many Jewish immigrants came through Ellis Island.
- Ellis Island Immigration Museum Video – Here viewers are taken on a virtual tour of Ellis Island.
- Face of America: Ellis Island Immigration Museum Video – Great Museums Television presents a quick video on the history of Ellis Island.
- Begin Building Your Family Tree – The AARP offers readers an essential guide on how to search for ancestors.
- Advice of How to Research Family History, Part 1 – Here the New York Times offers great advice on how anyone can research their family history.
- Getting Started Researching Your Family History – Before researching your family history learn three steps that will make this feel simple.
- The National Archives – Genealogy – Discover how to research family history and genealogy here at The National Archives.
- Genealogy and Family History – This USA.gov site explains how anyone can research their family history.
- Genealogy 101 – Before taking the time to search for historical genealogy check out this helpful information provided by the Colorado State Archives.
- Start Searching for Your Ancestors – The World Vital Records offers an excellent resource for anyone wanting to search their genealogy.
- Family History – Libraries such as St. Joseph County Public Library are great resources for exploring family histories.
- Coventry Archives – Looking for ancestors who may have traveled from England or Wales? Check out the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Coventry for details on births, deaths, and marriages.
- Searching Ellis Island’s Database – This website provides an outstanding tool for searching the Ellis Island database.
- New York Passenger Lists and Research Tips – Here readers find search tools, database information, and more related to immigrants who came through Ellis Island.
Last modified: April 9, 2018