New York City and the History of Ellis Island

Written by: Greg Wiszniewski
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.
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.
  • 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.
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.
Other Ellis Island and Family History Resources:

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