Ellis Island

General information

Pro/Con Immigrant Literature

(pro immigration)
(con immigration)

Summary: This political cartoon is titled "The Lure of the American Wages" and depicted the British trying to stop people from leaving for America where they were told there would be plenty of jobs and new freedoms.

  • Summary: In 1849, some people organized into an 
  • anti-Catholic, anti-immigrant political group famously 
  • called the “Know-Nothings,” which derived its name from 
  • the secrecy of its members. Know-Nothings believed that
  • native-born Americans were superior to the newly arrived
  • immigrant groups on the basis that Irish and German 
  • immigrants tended to be poorer and Catholic.
  • -http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2008661569/

Summary: "This political cartoon appeared as the nation debated new restrictions on immigration. After 1917, immigrants entering the United States had to pass a literacy test. In the cartoon, the literacy test appears as an insurmountable barrier to a family of immigrants. Uncle Sam peers out over the barrier, a flag behind him ironically proclaiming "the land of the free."

Newspaper Articles/

Summary: Newspaper image from New York Evening World, May 20, 1922.

Summary: This is an inspection card. Immigrants wore large identification tags pinned to their clothing stating their ultimate destination in America.

Summary: One of the test given to immigrants before entry into America was a literacy test. 

Summary: The doctors of Ellis Island developed a code of chalk marks to identify immigrants for medical needs. The most dreaded mark was an X for suspected mental defect.

More Information

Forgotten Ellis Island: a film by PBS depicting immigrants arriving at Ellis Island, going through inspection, and then being placed in the Ellis Island hospital.

Ellis Island: A history of immigration: an award-winning documentary over Ellis Island between the years of 1890-1920


Kansas Connection

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Summary: Advertisement to move to Coffeyville hoping to lure potential settlers west. This advertisement was published on April 21, 1879.

Summary: An article posted in the Emporia Gazette newspaper on July 18, 1896.

Summary: An advertisement to settle in Nicodemus, KS.


  • Summary: Photograph shows a large waiting room 
  • filled with newly arrived emigrants.
  • -http://www.loc.gov/item/2012646346/

  • Summary: Rumors circulated in Europe there was a 
  • shortage of marriage-minded women in the U.S. so 
  • many "maids" came over seeking to find a husband.
  • On the ship "Baltic", there were reports that over 1000 
  • young women arrived in 1907 on a single ship.
  • -http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2001704430/

Summary: Detention pen--on roof of main building, Ellis Island, where emigrants held for deportation may go in fine weather.

Summary: Immigrants being held in "pens" awaiting processing probably on or during Christmas. 

Summary: After processing at the Ellis Island Immigration Station, immigrants were able to buy railroad (eisenbahn) tickets to destinations throughout the United States -National Archives, Records of the Public Health Service

  • Summary: Between 1880 and 1920, an estimated 4 
  • million Italian immigrants entered the United States. 
  • This picture shows immigrants just arriving.
  • -http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/97501095/

Summary: In this undated photo, immigrants stand 
outside of a building on Ellis Island at the Port of New 
York. Between 1892 and 1924, an estimated 20 million 
individuals began their new lives in America at the 
Immigration Processing Station, Ellis Island. 

National Archives, Records of the Public Health Service

Summary: Eye examinations of immigrant's at Ellis Island would involve using a tool commonly used to loop buttons onto shoes to flip up the eyelid to check for diseases.

Summary: After her clothes were fumigated, a newly arrived immigrant at Ellis Island has her hair examined for lice by a public health nurse. -

Summary: If suspected of coming down with an illness or being sick and contagious, the immigrant was sent to stay at one of three different quarantine hospitals built nearby. 

Summary: In the hospital, there were many different wards to keep the infection between immigrants from spreading. These children were kept in the infectious scalp ward. -http://nieman.harvard.edu/news/2009/01/documentary-film-brings-the-lost-history-of-the-ellis-island-hospital-to-life/