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Experiencing Ellis Island

An Interactive Immigration Project at FHS




Ellis Island Experience Project Objectives - See the Course of Study and 21st Century objectives covered in this project.
Check out Ellis Island Voice Thread - Students describe roles in the project and evaluate what was learned.

Ellis Island at Fayetteville High School on September 14, 2007
This is hosted on YouTube, which is unfortunately blocked at school. You may share with your family from home.

Immigration notes and information Tour of Ellis Island
Opened on January 1, 1892, Ellis Island became the nation's premier federal immigration station. In operation until 1954, the station processed over 12 million immigrant steamship passengers. The main building was restored after 30 years of abandonment and opened as a museum on September 10, 1990. Today, over 40 percent of America's population can trace their ancestry through Ellis Island.

On September 14, 2007, FHS Junior history students processed 4th, 5th, and 6th grade Fayetteville students in our own recreation of Ellis Island. We attempted to recreate the uncertainty, fear, and confusion many immigrants experienced while teaching these young students about the impact these new settlers had on our nation.
A variety of stations were arranged in our auditorium. Those stations are listed below with the "immigration officials" assigned to those stations.
More information about these stations continues after the listing.
  1. Baggage Inspection - Dakota P, Derek P
  2. Inital Inspection - Melissa C, Anna R
  3. Medical Examinations - Jacob B, Stephen G, Jessica H, Clint M, Kevin P
  4. Hopsital/Infirmary - Katherine B, Cassandra C, Shay H, Miranda L, Samantha V
  5. Legal Examinations - Adam F, Tessa K, Cameron S, Mark V, Sarah T
  6. Detainment Center - Lani B, Michael G, Jordan M, Jack P, Bradley L
  7. Deportation Center - Perry, Jordan, Cheston, Duncan (security guards)
  8. Release Center - Billy L, Colby G
  9. Transportation Center - Justin K, BJ S, Alex Edwards
  10. $20 Guy - Josh P, Joseph W, Matt R
  11. Tour Guide - Shelby B, Cody B, Lori N, Ally S, Lauren S, Cayla W

Baggage Inspection

Initial Inspection
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  • Upon arrival the immigrants will be guided into the building to prepare for inital inspection. These inspectors are actually marking individuals suspected of having certain ailments or diseases dangerous to our nation. These marks are intended to assist the medical staff as they identify anyone in need of further medical evaluation or departation due to contagious disease. These inspectors do not explain what they are marking or what the marks mean. It is a scary start to a grueling experience for the immigrants at Ellis Island.


  • Medical Examinations
  • ellis_isand_det..jpgImmigrants waited for hours for a medical evaluation which would determine if they could really begin the process of entering America. These exams were very invasive. Doctors poked and proded these immigrants searching for signs of disease. Anyone suspected of having serious medical issues was sent to the Ellis Island hospital for further testing and observation. This was difficult for many immigrants because it would cause families to be split apart just as they enter. If the immigrant received a clean bill of health, they were sent to wait in even longer lines for the Legal Exam.


  • Hospital/Infirmary
  • Individuals with certain conditions were treated at the hositpal on Ellis Island. Some were held here for further observation while others were released after their conditions improved.

  • Legal Examinations
  • ellis_5.jpgImmigrants will have to wait in long lines for an intensive questioning session by legal inspectors. These immigration officials will question immigrants as to their legal status and personal information. The will be asked to read in English, lay out their employment plans, and prove they will not be a burden to the United States government. Many immigrants claimed this abusive questioning was the most difficult aspect of the entire experience.


  • Detainment Centerellis_4.jpg
  • Quite a few immigants found themselves in the detainment center at Ellis Island. One could be held here for any number of reasons. They may be held for further questioning of legal issues not resolved during the inital legal examination. They may be here because they lack enough money to qualify to leave the island. (Immigrants had to prove they had enough finances to begin their life in America.) Some immigrants write letters to relatives for help and wait in the center for answers. Life here was not comfortable. No one wanted to be stuck here, especially when the goal was to enter the great United States of Ameica.

  • Deportation Center
  • ellis_deport.jpgUnfortunately, not all immigrants were allowed to enter the United States. The number of deported immigrants was very low compared to the number allowed to enter the country.




  • Transportation Center
  • ellis_transport.jpgAfter an immigrant finally completed the process at Ellis Island, the newcomer to America had to purchase a ticket into the country. Many bought a ferry ticket into Manhattan - the heart of New York City. Many other purchased train tickets to other cities in America to join other family members who had arrived earlier. Although many immigrants did settle in rural America, a great majority of immigrants settled in cities. Concentration of immigrant populations was highest in four of America's largest cities at the time (New York, Boston, Pittsburgh, and Chicago). Five out of every six Irish and Russian immigrants lived in a city. Three out of four Italian and Hungarian immigrants became urban dwellers, as did seven of ten English immigrants.
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Ellis Island Links


http://us.history.wisc.edu/hist102/lectures/textonly/lecture08.html This is a terrific lecture on immigration. Please read!
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ellis_Island