WE ARE ELLIS ISLAND
I will be leaving this post up all week again, simply because everyone wanders by on different days and times and I want to give you all a chance to make comments and ask questions.
You may have seen a public service commercial on TV called "We Are Ellis Island" encouraging people to support the renovation of the buildings on Ellis Island as a national monument to the immigrants who passed through there on their way to permanent residence in the United States. They encourage you to visit their site at We Are Ellis Island . At that site you can both read and watch stories of the people who came into the country written by their ancestors. You also can submit the stories of your own family, and they encourage you to do so.
If any of your ancestors entered the United States on the East Coast between 1892 and 1954, they were officially processed at Ellis Island and the records of their admission to the country, ship, and census information such as age, marital status, occupation etc. have been placed on file and are accessible for free at the official site Ellisisland.org. In addition, immigration, citizenship, and military information before, during, and after these dates are available from The National Archives.
Prior to 1890, the individual states (rather than the Federal government) regulated immigration into the United States. Castle Garden in the Battery (originally known as Castle Clinton) served as the New York State immigration station from 1830 to 1890 and approximately eight million immigrants, mostly from Northern and Western Europe, passed through its doors.
To give you a sample of the material you will find at the Ellis Island site: On a copy of the ship's manifest for the S. S. Algeria, Page 256, Line 6 you will find:
Stephen White a married man age 21 whose previous residence was Fauldhouse, Scotland and his nearest relative is his mother, Euphemia White, at 41 Castle Square, Bothwell, Fauldhouse, Scotland. Stephen speaks English and is literate. He is a miner by occupation who plans to live in the U.S. permanently. His first destination will be the Navarre Hotel in New York City. His complexion is pale and he has brown hair and eyes. He is of good physical condition. He is not a polygamist or anarchist and doesn't plan to overthrow the government of the United States (you have to wonder if anyone answered yes to those questions). On lines 2 and 7, you see where he is traveling with his brother, Robert White, and cousin, Robert Reid with similar information.
One building on Ellis Island has been restored with donations from the public. You can still donate to add ceremonial bricks to this building with the name of your ancestor and to assist in the research, transcription, and maintenance of the records.
If anyone would like additional information or assistance in tracing relatives, please let me know. I'm not a professional genealogist and I don't charge, but will be glad to get you started. In the meantime, do take the opportunity to visit both "We Are Ellis Island" and the official Ellis Island and Castle Garden sites for a great deal of interesting information and historical background on immigration.