Ellis Island

Ellis Island
Ellis Island operated from 1892 to 1954. Millions of immigrants passed through its doors. Historians believe that close to 40 percent of all current U.S. citizens have at least once ancestor who passed through Ellis Island.

International Migrants Day is December 18th. We honor people who have made the brave journey from one country to another to live a better life. Today, modern communication systems and transportation systems make it easier for some people to migrate. But that wasn’t always true.

Why did people make a long and dangerous journey over the sea to come to Ellis Island, New York? Many people left their homes because there was no food or jobs in their country. Other people were mistreated because of their religion. In some years, between 5,000 – 10,000 people came through Ellis Island every day! They wanted to live in a safe country where they could find jobs.

Immigrants had to pass a medical test to be sure they weren’t sick. Inspectors interviewed them. They wanted to be sure that the migrants could support themselves. After 1917, adult migrants had to show that they could read. People who couldn’t pass the tests had to return home.

Today, you can tour a museum on Ellis Island. It describes immigration in the United States. 

What Do You Think? Why do you think that people migrate from one country to another today? Do you think their reasons are the same as or different from immigrants at Ellis Island?

Photo Credit: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division [LC-USZ62-12595]