Monday, August 17, 2009

Arriving at Ellis Island

This picture shows a group of immigrants arriving at Ellis Island. Like yesterday's picture, these people appear to be fairly affluent.

OK, for me, summer is over. It is back to school today. Boy, summer really went by fast. In one way I am sorry for vacation to be over, but in another way I am eager to get going with a new school year.

24 comments:

  1. Except for the one lady, these folks don't look all that ecstatic about setting foot on U.S. soil.

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  2. Hooray, school starts without students this week. A whole week of mindless meetings that have nothing to do with my job. I want a little bit more of my summer.

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  3. Even today, it takes five days to cross the Atlantic by ship. At the time these pictures were taken, it would have been much longer. So these people were weary and perhaps a bit worried. There was still the possibility they could be turned back for health reasons, no matter how well-to-do-they may be.

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  4. The little girl in front is interesting. What is she carrying? Some kind of sign for a relative to identify her? Would kids have traveled alone?

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  5. The Thomas C. Millard was a small steamer that was probably used to ferry passengers from Ellis to the mainland in the mid 1900's. Not sure where the Liners pulled up...maybe dropped anchor and ferried in. There is a star on a suitcase...do you have a hi-res scan so you can make out the details? I wonder what the life ring says too. I love exploring these old photos.

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  6. Returning to school each fall was always a traumatic event for my brother and I. We are both about 50 and to this day we cringe at the sight of back to school sales which - like Xmas - start way too early.

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  7. Folks can't be ecstatic in every photo. They have to get down to business eventually.

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  8. I looked in the Ellis Island records and the Thomas C Miller isn't listed as a ship that disembarked immigrants. I suspect this is a ferry or other type of smaller boat that brought the passengers from one location to another. As I understand, there were great big warehouses on the Jersey side where folks were processed, housed and held in quarantine, among other things, prior to being sent across the river to New York. This could be one of those boats.

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  9. I did some more searching, and based on the building in the background, this appears to correspond to a similar view captioned "view of Liberty Island as seen from the windows of the Great Hall on Ellis Island." It's at this link: http://www.ellisisland.org/photoalbums/ellis_island_album204.asp

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  10. SmartGirl 1953 said...
    PJM:

    Thank you for agreeing to my suggestion.

    One of the things we learned at Ellis is that the wealther immigrants (first and second-class passengers) were processed on the boat and went right in, and only the poorer, steerage (third class passengers) were subject to the physical exams and possible rejection on Ellis Island.

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  11. These people may have already been processed and are departing Ellis Island for the railroad stations in New Jersey or New York. Or maybe they are getting off a tender from the steamship and are arriving at Ellis.

    Once they were processed, tags were put on their coats indicating which train they were getting on and where their final destinations were.

    The original Ellis Island was small. As the number of immigrants grew during the early 20th century, the island was expanded with landfill to create grounds for a hospital, dormitories, and other facilities to accommodate those who did not pass inspection or who were ill and could not enter the country right away.

    Imagine the hopes and fears of those individuals, who survived a long trip in steerage, and now had to wait for hours until their name was called. If a doctor found something wrong with you; if you didn’t have enough money; or if you couldn’t answer the questions correctly, they would put a chalk mark on your coat and send you off to the side for further testing and evaluation.

    The most dreaded disease was Trachoma - a common and contagious eye infection. If anyone had it, they would be sent back. The inspectors would check the immigrants by pulling up their eyelids with a button hook, how awful. In one exhibit, I saw a photo of a young girl in a coat and holding a suitcase having her eyelid pulled up with the hook. I wonder how many people were infected by those instruments if the doctor’s didn’t clean them after each use.

    Ellis was known as “The Isle of Hope and The Isle of Tears.”

    You can check out the official website at: http://www.ellisisland.org/default.asp

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  12. Norkio:

    The immigrants who were detained were housed in the additional buildings located on the "added" section of Ellis Island.

    There was a hospital, laundry, dormitories, etc.

    They didn't leave Ellis unless they were being admitted to the country.

    First and second class immigrants were processed on the steamships and did not go to Ellis at all. Only the people in steerage, which was most of them.

    Today, only the main building (with the Great Hall) is restored and open as a museum, although they are working on the rest of it.

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  13. PJM:

    Wishing you a good school year, I can't believe you go back so early.

    The public schools around here don't start until the day after Labor Day.

    Keep us posted on your classes and their progress.

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  14. Here's a great article on immigrating to Ellis during the era of quota restrictions. Even if your boat made it here in the 1920's, your whole boat could be refused--.

    My grandparents came over on this boat's previous voyage when it was the Acropolis

    http://articles.latimes.com/1998/jul/04/news/mn-614

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  15. Ross:

    We found my paternal grandfather's records at Ellis, including a copy of the ship's manifest showing his name and final destination (Providence RI).

    I brought my dad, who is 94 to see this for the first time. It was very meaningful to him.

    He was able to see a photo of the ship his father arrived on.

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  16. Sounds like some knowledgeable folks hangin' out today. If one's grandparents sailed from Scotland to Canada to visit relatives and then immigrated to Montana, where would they enter and how could I find paperwork?

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  17. When did they move from Canada to Montana?

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  18. Mathan;

    I think the Ellis island site covers those people who were coming in by ship and just those were processed at Ellis Island. I'm not sure where other records are kept.

    SmartGirl;

    My parents had been to Ellis Island, after it was restored. A while back I gave them copies of the ships manifest from the web site. It had our relatives and friends on it, and it really gives you a sense of history. They too, were impressed.


    One grandfather came and went back a couple of times, working here to earn passage, for his family.

    One time he was on the Olympic, sister ship of the Titanic!

    He was in steerage. :)

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  19. Sorry. Life happened.

    My grandfather came by himself to establish a homestead near Pompeys Pillar, in 1906. He returned with his bride in 1912.

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  20. Ross:

    Yes, you can get the same documents online from the Ellis Island website that we got while we were there - the manifest, etc.

    They have a computer center at Ellis where you can look people up, view the records, and print them. But they charge you the same amount of money that they charge if you buy them on the internet, less postage.

    The difference is that they print them out in the gift shop for you and then you can buy frames, etc.

    Of course, being there at Ellis makes it very meaningful.

    Especially when you first walk in and you see all of the abandoned luggage and personal possessions piled up in the center of the hall.

    It was very emotional.

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  21. Ross:

    Yes, you can get the same documents online from the Ellis Island website that we got while we were there - the manifest, etc.

    They have a computer center at Ellis where you can look people up, view the records, and print them. But they charge you the same amount of money that they charge if you buy them on the internet, less postage.

    The difference is that they print them out in the gift shop for you and then you can buy frames, etc.

    Of course, being there at Ellis makes it very meaningful.

    Especially when you first walk in and you see all of the abandoned luggage and personal possessions piled up in the center of the hall.

    It was very emotional.

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  22. Mathan:

    I think you would have to check the immigration records in Canada.

    Ellis Island only has the records for those who came to New York between certain years and who were processed on the island.

    For example, the first class immigrants who came to new york wouldn't be there because they were processed on the ships.

    My mother's father and grandparents emigrated from Argentina sometime in the 1880s, and we couldn't find their records.

    That's either because they didn't come in through new york or they came first class, which was possible, because they were wealthy.

    Anyway, shortly after my mother died a few months ago, I came across her father's actual naturalization papers somewhere in my parents' house. I'll have to have my dad get them out and see if it says where they came in.

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  23. I think that I am possibly able to explain a little bit about the history of this picture. This same ship is featured about 20 minutes into a documentary entitled "The Killing of Reinhard Heydrich" (the notorious Nazi who was Himmler's deputy). The ship is shown during a scene supposedly showing repatriation of Jews from Germany in 1939 just prior to the outbreak of WWII and a few years before the Nazis resorted to their much more "extreme" methods. Unfortunately no further explanation is offered in the film as to where the passengers set sail from or indeed disembarked but it is definitely the same ship as the name is prominitely displayed. From this information I can only presume that the passengers shown disembarking at Ellis Island are European Jews who had been turfed out of their home countries. This would explain the star on the suitcase & also the ID tag worn around the little girls neck which would enable relatives to identify her.

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  24. The ship was built in Tottenville NY by "AC Brown & Son" in 1905 :-
    http://www.shipbuildinghistory.com/history/shipyards/5small/inactive/brown.htm

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