Sitting in New York Harbor, Ellis Island is one of the most visited sites in the United States. Between 1892 and 1954, 12 million immigrants were processed on Ellis Island. Almost half of all Americans are descendants of these 12 million. Ellis Island is rich with history and filled with amazing stories and artifacts.
American Family Immigration History Center
The American Family Immigration History Center has archived the arrival records of more than 22 million immigrants, crewmembers and passengers between 1892 and 1924. You can search the records for your ancestors here with the help of volunteers. If you plan on conducting a search, bring as much information as you can about who you would like to search for.
There is a 45 minute audio tour that walks visitors through the steps immigrants walked through. The audio tour is available in 9 different languages including: English, French, German, Spanish, Italian and Japanese.
Visitors can also walk though exhibits to learn more about the history of Ellis Island and the immigrants who landed there. There are wonderful displays of photographs, videos, oral histories and artifacts.
Current temporary exhibits include Women & Spirit: Catholic Sisters in America (through January 22, 2011) and The Spirit of America” Gibson Les Paul Guitar (through August 1, 2011).
American Immigrant Wall of Honor
See the names of more than 650,000 people etched into the longest wall of names in the world – Ellis Island’s American Immigrant Wall of Honor. It is a tribute to all immigrants looking to find a new life in America. The Wall overlooks The Statue of Liberty and beautiful New York Skyline.
Island of Hope, Island of Tears
The 30 minute movie “Island of Hope, Island of Tears” is a beautiful documentary showing the immigrant experience.
Ellis Island Living Theater
You can also see a 30 minute play by the Ellis Island Living Theater which is based on the oral histories of Ellis Island immigrants.
Notable People Who Passed Through Ellis Island
These immigrants were processed at Ellis Island. You may recognize some names!
- Bob Hope (England) – Actor
- Cary Grant (England) – Actor
- Irving Berlin (Belarus) – Composer
- Max Factor (Poland) – Cosmetologist
- Rudolph Valentino (Italy) – Actor
- The von Trapp Family (Austria) – Singers (The musical “The Sound of Music” told their story)
General Information and Getting There
Ellis Island Immigration Museum is free and there are free tours given by the National Park Service. There is a small fee for the audio tour. Click here for more information.
Information about ferry tickets to Ellis Island can be found at StateCruises.com. The ferry to Ellis Island also services Liberty Island where you can visit The Statue of Liberty.