Friday, December 31, 2010
The United States is a nation of immigrants, a fact that is often repeated but just as often forgotten. Twelve million people migrated to the United States through a single point between 1892 and 1954. Now at least 100,000,000 Americans are thought to be descended from those who entered through Ellis Island.
Ellis Island: Through America's Gateway is an introduction created at Mt. Carmel High School in California. The History Channel's Ellis Island page is more comprehensive, with videos and links to recommended articles. The Ellis Island Foundation hosts a searchable database; details require a paid subscription, but finding names and dates of entry is free. I learned that 3 passengers shared my paternal grandfather's last name (though I know his branch of the family arrived before Ellis Island opened) and 49 shared my maternal grandfather's name (one of those might be an ancestor). The job is made much easier by the fact that my name is not "Smith," of which there were over 69,000 registered!
Last and certainly not least, Scholastic's site Immigration: Stories of Yesterday and Today is full of stories about immigration from Ellis Island as well as more recent times, up to the present generation of migrants. The site includes activities, such as graphing, mapping, and oral histories.