Ellis Island In The Distance As Seen From
Our Ferry Boat. The Large Building In The
Center of the Picture Is The Main Building
Ellis Island As We Approach Dock
Ellis Island Main Building
Passengers leaving Ferry at Ellis Island Dock
Notice People Lined Up Waiting To Board Ferry
The following is a short chronology of Ellis Island:
1909 - Fort Gibson is built on Ellis Island for coastal defense.
1830 - Immigrants begin to arrive in the United States in large numbers from Ireland, Great Britain and Germany.
1855 - 1890 - Castle Garden ( Now Castle Clinton ) serves as New York state immigration station.
1862 - The Homestead Act makes land widely available. Immigrants begin to arrive from Scandinavia.
1870s - Congress enacts first restrictions on immigration. Italians, Russians, and Austro-Hungarians begin to arrive in large numbers.
1880s - 5.7 million immigrants arrive in the United States.
1890 - 1791 - Immigration, now under federal control, is located at the Badge Office in Battery Park.
1892 - Immigration station opens at Ellis Island, January 1.
1897 - Fire destroys original wooden immigration station. Many of the immigration records were also destroyed. Processing returns temporarily to the Badge Office in Battery Park.
1900 - Present Main Building opens December 17 and welcomed 2,251 new arrivals. This building was and is a fireproof, French Renaissance- style building and is pictured above.
1901 - 1910 - 8.8 million immigrants arrive in the United States. 6 million were processed at Ellis Island with 860,000 persons processed in 1907 alone.
1914 - 1918- World War I curbs immigration; Enemy aliens are detained at Ellis Island.
1920s - Federal law set immigration quotas based on national origin. In 1924 United States consulates took over immigration inspection. In later years, Ellis Island served as deportation center, Public Health Service hospital, and Coast Guard station.
1939 - 1945- World War II Japanese, Italians, and German aliens are interned at Ellis Island.
1954 - Ellis Island immigration station closed permanently at the end of November.
1965 - National origins quotas were abolished and Ellis Island became part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument.
1960 - The restored Main building opened as an immigration museum on September 10.
I can't begin to imagine the wide variety of emotions that went through these immigrants. Ferries and barges brought steerage passengers out to Ellis Island from steam ships. First and Second Class passengers were quickly processed on board the ships. The inspection process took approximately 3 - 7 hours. For the vast majority of immigrants, Ellis Island was an " Island of Hope ". The first step on the way to new opportunities and experiences in America. For the rest it became the " Island of Tears. A place where families were separated and individuals were denied entry into this country. "Doctors watched the immigrants as they entered the building and climbed the stairs; a limp, labored breathing, or other suspected troubles warranted further medical exams which you can imagine only added to the anxiety. In the Registry Room each individual was questioned by an inspector. They were asked 29 questions some of which were, home town, occupation, destination, and amount of money they carried. Those who were allowed to pass continued downstairs where they exchanged money, bought provisions and perhaps rail tickets. One Russian Jewish immigrant recalls the uniforms the inspection officials wore and said " We were scared of uniforms. It took us back to the Russian that we were running away from. "A third or so stayed in New York City. Others headed elsewhere. Only one to two percent were denied entry.
So why did all these people come to the United States? The reasons are likely as varied and many as the immigrant's themselves.Chiefly reasons were religious persecution, political strife, unemployment, family connections, and the lure of adventure. These were the circumstances which brought about the greatest migration in modern history.
To me the task of processing the numbers of people described above is taunting and required a large number of trained and dedicated employees. The vast difference in language, customs, different nationalities must have at times been overwhelming. On a typical day immigrants came face to face with inspectors, interpreters, nurses, doctors, social workers, and many others. At any one time there were approximately 500 employees working at Ellis Island. As stated earlier most immigrants processing was finished in 3 to 5 or 7 hours but about 20% stayed overnight in dormitory rooms until their cases could be cleared. Many of these immigrants found the accommodations vastly superior to the steerage quarters they had aboard ship.
A quick look at the duties of some of these employees is interesting and follows:
Inspector - The United States Immigration Inspector's job was to conduct face to face interviews with all immigrants and this process was known as immigrant inspection. Every immigrant was questioned either on board ship or at Ellis Island. On Ellis Island where most of the immigrants were questioned the inspector sat at a high desk in the Registry Room. The inspector looked at the official list of a ship's passengers called a " Manifest of Alien Passengers ". The inspector in questioning the immigrant was verifying the immigrants answers to what had been originally entered on the ship's passenger manifest at the port of exit. The inspector was charged with allowing to enter only persons who were " clearly and beyond doubt entitled to enter ". He had to make sure the immigrant was not a member of one of the classes of persons barred from entering the country under various immigration laws, such as contract laborers, polygamists, paupers, convicted criminals, anarchists or anyone likely to become a dependent on the public for support.
I found that one of these inspectors was Harvey Snider who was born in Butler County, Ohio in 1870 my county in Ohio. In 1894 he came to New York in search of work with his wife and their small children. He was hired as a gatekeeper at Ellis Island. He worked as a watchman and guard and helped out in other ways. He obviously was a good worker because over time he was promoted in 1910 to Chief Inspector of the Night Division and supervised all night worker. He retired in 1934 after 40 years at Ellis Island. He died in 1937 in Los Angeles.There are a lot of Sniders in Butler County but I do not know if any of them might be related to Harvey Snider.
Clerk - You can imagine the enormous amount of paperwork that was generated and processed in the immigrant processing and the people that took care of this matter were the clerks both male and female. There were dozens and dozens of clerks and stenographers working there. They kept a running count of the number if immigrants being processed, the disposal of their cases and their eventual departure from Ellis Island. They were charged with filing the passenger manifests, completed detention and deportation records, wrote reports and dossiers, and retrieved warrant case records. The stenographers were essential for all the immigration hearings of the various boards of special inquiry.
One of these clerks Augustus F. Sherman eventually became Chief Clerk of Ellis Island. This was an important job and he handled the appeals of immigrants to the Ellis Island Commissioner of Immigration who had been barred from entry into the United States. This chief Clerk might not be recalled except for the fact that he was an accomplished photographer. He often asked immigrants if he could photograph them in their native clothing. His legacy comes to us through the numerous photographs of elaborately costumed immigrants that might have been otherwise lost.
At this point spell check stopped working so from here on there may be a lot of you know what.
Interpreter - In my estimation one of the most critical persons at Ellis Island as far as the non English speaking immigrant was concerned was the interpreter. Having studied a foreign language and working with interpreters my self it is critical that your exact meaning is translated and questions and answers etc are accurately translated to you. Many interpreters at Ellis Island were themselves immigrants or children of immigrants. They had to pass examinations that rated their speaking, reading and comprehension of each language. There were 23 common languages spoken at Ellis Island. Can you imagine the clamor this would have made and on any given day many of these languages would be spoken and heard at the same time.
One of the noteworthy interpreters was Florello LaGuardia who was the son of Italian father and a Jewish mother from Austria-Hungary. After leaving work at Ellis Island he became a lawyer and entered politics. He served in the United States Congress for about 12 years and a three term mayor of New York City. One of the major airports ( LaGuardia ) in New York City is named after him.
Immigrant Aid Worker - Throughout the years, numerous organizations offered aid to immigrants at Ellis Island. The organizations were called various names such as: missionaries, chaplains, agents, matrons, port workers,colporteurs, or social workers. Regardless of what they were called they provided an essential service to immigrants in the form of counseling, guidance, information, translation, money, food, clothing, books, periodicals, and religious instruction and services. You can just imagine yourself as an immigrant in a strange land not knowing the language or customs or where to go. There were about 23 organizations and societies on Ellis Island to help the immigrants. Many of them are well know relief organizations that we know and rely on today for help in various circumstances.
Nurse - The 25 nurses at Ellis Island were employees of the Public Health Service. They were assigned to work in the general hospital wards and the contagious disease wards. They worked under the direct supervision of the doctors. An interesting fact is that both male and female nurses were required to live on Ellis Island. If they visited New York or New Jersey during their off duty time they were required to return to Ellis Island no later that the 12:00 am staff boat.
Doctor - The doctors of Ellis Island were commissioned officers of the Public Health Service and were officially known as surgeons. They were in charge of the Ellis Island Hospital and the medical examination of immigrants in the routine procedure known as the line inspection. As the long lines of immigrants slowly entered the main buiding they were swiftly examined for any sign of disease or physical or mental weakness. They were on the lookout for trachoma ( disease of the eye ), tuberculosis, diphtheria, and other states of poor health such as poor physique, pregancy, and mental disability. Those who were suspected of being in questionable health were marked. This marking was a chalk letter of the alphabet. B for back, F for face and H for heart and these immigrants were pulled from the line and sent to a physical or mental examination room. If they were determined to be ill they were sent to the Ellis Island hospital. Interestingly as important as the role of the doctors was they played no role in determining the fitness of the immagrant to enter the country. They solely were responsible for the medical examination, diagnosis and treatment of the immigrants. Also they were not involved in the quaratine process as this operation took place on Hoffman and Swinbume islands off the coast of Staten Island. I had never heard of these operations and it is unclear to me how these immigrants were identified for quarantine. Obviously the inspectors were the deciding authority and I suspose their decisions would have been aided by comments from the doctors but this is pure speculation on my part.
Display In Main Building Of stacks Of
Display Of Immigrant Baggage
Immigrants Had A Influence On American Music
Millions Of Immigrants Had No Choice In Coming
They Were Slaves
Nature Had An Effect On Immigration And Migration
Religious Persecution Contributes To Immigration
Famine In Ireland Forced Many To Leave Their Homeland
The Promise Of Land Brought Many Immigrants To Our Shores
Conflict Between England And France Cause Many To Relocate
Puritans Immigrate To The Land That Would Become The United States Of America
Dutch Tennant Farmers Brought To New Netherland
Railroads Aid Migration Westward
Sorry About The Quality Of This Photo But What It Relates Is The Train Loaded With Orphans and
Children Whose Parents Could Not Take Care Of Them Who Are Being Shipped West To Families Who Want Children And Do Not Have Any Of Their Own
Photo Of Men Awaiting Deportation
The Sign Tells The Story
Women Excluded From Entry Into The United States. Notice The Women On The Left Is Pictured Alone. The Women In White In The Center Is Bare Footed.
Worker Giving Milk To Children Twice A Day.
Enlargement Of Plaque On The Picture Above Of Man Giving Out Milk
The Plaque Tells It All
This Is Really What You Call Mail Order Brides
People Getting Ready To Board Ferry Back
One Tired Son-In-Law And We Have Not Arrived
At Ellis Island Yet
The literature about visiting Ellis Island recommends you allocate about 3 hours for your visit. For me that would not even get me started. Obviously virtually all displays at Ellis Island are static and are generally large poster or photograph many of which I have shown above.The main building was vacant for years and detoriated badly until it was decided to restore it to its original layout as nearly as possible. This is a large 3 storied building with many room which are open for viewing or viewing the posters and photos in them. I think they said there are 30 buildings on Ellis Island many of which are either being restored or will be restored. At present the main building is all that is open to the public.
I believe I have mentioned that Ellis Island is closed due to the hurricane Sandy and I have not seen any detailed explanation of the damages or when it will reopen for public tours.
I was very impressed with Ellis Island. There are millions of stories about the immigrants who entered through this facility and many of them are displayed in the building. I just could only capture a few of them. I know that as I look over my notes I will see many things I forgot to tell you about. If I find anything note worthy I will give an update. I know I want to do one more update on things I failed to discuss about portions of this trip.This final update will cover items from the entire trip.
Well it is late. I had a hard workout this morning and worked on Landon's barn and spent about 8 hours on this blog today. Thus said I am tired and need to get to bed shortly. So good night and I love you.