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Ellis Island -
Tracing Your Family History Through America's Gateway
Reviewed by Joan Schmidt, Chicago, IL
Ellis Island - Tracing Your Family History Through
America's Gateway by Loretto Dennis Szucs. Revised addition 2000, published
by Ancestry Publishing (www. ancestory.com), 8 1/2 x 5 1/2, 48 pages.
Price $US 4.95
In her booklet "Ellis Island" Loretto Dennis Szucs gives
us come background of this fascinating and historical institution which
was the first taste of America so many of our ancestors saw. Ellis Island
processed immigrants from 1892 to 1954, with earlier arrivals being processed
through Castle Garden at the tip of Manhattan. About half the United States
population today can trace an ancestor who came through Ellis Island.
Loretto tells us a little of the island itself, from
its purchase in 1808 from Samuel Ellis to build Fort Gibson to its being
placed under the National Park Service in 1965. Construction on the immigration
center began in 1890. It contained a 3-story reception center, hospital,
laundry, boiler-house, dormitory, restaurant and baggage station. All
this burned down on June 15, 1897, and the wooden buildings were rebuilt
using bricks and limestone.
The people and the reasons for immigration varied and
usually were tied in to poor economic conditions in the homeland. They
left behind family and traveled for weeks in less than ideal conditions
for a chance at better life. Arrival at Ellis Island was a traumatic experience
as arrivals were watched for any signs of illness or other conditions
that might be cause to be sent back. Some days as many as 5,000 were processed
These were proud, intelligent people representing every
country in the Old World. But because so many of them were illiterate,
it was here that many name change/spellings occurred at the hands of processors
not familiar with the language.
Loretto also give us some hints on how to start our research
and some of the records that may have helpful information, and where they
may be found
So if you haven't had a chance to visit, but have an
interest in Ellis Island, I think you'll enjoy reading this short background
of a most interesting part of our American history.