Sunday, April 16, 2017

Celebrate Ellis Island Family History Day on April 17

Ellis Island Immigrant Station, 1893 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Ellis Island, the nation's first Federal immigration station, began processing immigrants in 1890 in the Barge Office at the Battery while the new structure was being built.  The new station opened its doors on January 1, 1892. Ellis Island is located in the upper bay in New York Harbor just off the New Jersey coast, within the shadow of the Statue of Liberty. The iconic image of immigrants crowding the decks of ships for their first glimpse of the Statue of Liberty has long been a symbol of freedom and opportunity to many.

Immigrants on a ship approaching New York City,
bound for Ellis Island, 1915, Edwin Levick.
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Originally built of pine, the Ellis Island Immigration Station burned to the ground in 1897, along with Federal and State immigration records dating back to 1855. The new fireproof Main Building was opened on December 17, 1900.
Immigrant Station, Ellis Island,1902-1913, Edwin Levick.
By New York Public Library (,
[No restrictions], via Wikimedia Commons
In 1907, more people immigrated to the United States than any other year with approximately 1.25 million immigrants being processed at Ellis Island that year. April 17, 1907, marks the day when more immigrants were processed through Ellis Island than on any other day in its history — 11,747 people. From 1892 to 1954 when the station closed, about 17 million people came through Ellis Island on their way to becoming U.S. citizens.[1]

"By official proclamation of our nation’s governors, April 17 has been designated as “Ellis Island Family History Day.” Under the auspices of The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc. and the National Genealogical Society, the day has been set aside annually to recognize the achievements and contributions made to America by Ellis Island immigrants and their descendants...

"Ellis Island Family History Day was first celebrated on April 17, 2001 to commemorate the opening of the American Family Immigration History Center at Ellis Island and its companion website" (Editor's Note: now The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation
Immigrant Family in the Baggage Room
of Ellis Island, 1905, Lewis Hine,
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Ideas for celebrating Ellis Island Family History Day:

  1. Learn more about your immigrant ancestors that may have come through Ellis Island by visiting the Ellis Island website
  2. While there, create a free account and search the passenger lists. 
  3. Share your immigrant ancestor's story with family members or write the story and publish it on a blog or in a local genealogical society publication.
  4. Place your immigrant's name on the American Immigrant Wall of Honor (all points of entry are eligible). Learn more about it by clicking here.
  5. Find a recipe for dishes from your immigrant ancestor's homeland and prepare a meal featuring those foods.
  6. Search for images of the traditional dress from your immigrant ancestor's country of origin and share them with your family.

Please share your ideas in the comments section for other ways of celebrating this special day.


1 comment:

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