Ellis Island: How to Research Ancestors Who Passed Through the Gateway to Freedom

In case your ancestors traveled to New York from outdoors the US throughout the years 1892–1954, there’s an excellent probability they handed by way of Ellis Island. On January 1, we’ll be celebrating the a hundred and thirtieth anniversary of the day Ellis Island opened its gates. In honor of this milestone, we’d prefer to take the chance to dive into the historical past of the island and discover MyHeritage’s Ellis Island information — one of many cornerstone collections on MyHeritage.

Search the Ellis Island and Other New York Passenger Lists collection on MyHeritage

Flanking the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor, Ellis Island is among the most well-known immigration facilities in historical past, serving as a gateway between the Outdated World and the Land of Alternative. The stream of immigrants that handed by way of its doorways reworked the character of the US and made it into the highly effective nation it’s at the moment.

What precisely occurred to your ancestors who handed by way of Ellis Island? And how will you study extra about them?

A short historical past of Ellis Island

Ellis Island started as a part of a tidal flat within the Hudson River with not a lot on it besides oysters — an vital meals supply for the Lenape individuals who had been native to that space. Later, it turned often called Gibbet Island as a result of a gallows (often known as a gibbet) was constructed there to hold pirates. Ultimately, the island was bought by Samuel Ellis, who gave it the title it’s recognized by at the moment.

Via many of the nineteenth century, the island served as the positioning of Fort Gibson, an vital army base. The island was expanded in 1834 to accommodate development of a railroad.

The primary nice wave of immigration started in 1814, and at that time there was little or no regulation. 5 million individuals got here to the US from Europe over the subsequent 45 years, and New York State arrange an immigration heart referred to as Fort Backyard on the Battery in decrease Manhattan in 1855. When it was clear they would wish larger amenities, Ellis Island — which had stood vacant for the reason that Civil Warfare — appeared a good selection. Whereas the island was being ready, the Barge Workplace on the southeast tip of the Battery was used for processing immigrants.

Ellis Island was opened in 1892 and functioned for greater than 60 years earlier than closing in 1954. Based on some estimates, round 40% of all present U.S. residents can hint no less than one ancestor to Ellis Island.

MyHeritage’s Ellis Island and Different New York Passenger Lists assortment

In case you have an ancestor who immigrated to the US between 1892 and 1954, there’s an excellent probability that they handed by way of Ellis Island on their approach into America. However even when your ancestor arrived earlier or later, you might be able to discover them in our Ellis Island and Different New York Passenger Lists assortment. The gathering accommodates greater than 100 million information spanning the years 1820–1957. The world modified past recognition over the course of these 138 years, and people modifications are mirrored within the information: by the Nineteen Fifties, a few of these passengers and immigrants had been arriving by airplane moderately than by boat.

Relying on the 12 months, you might be able to discover the next details about your ancestor on this assortment:

 

  • Title
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Occupation
  • Dates of delivery, departure, and arrival
  • Bodily descriptions
  • Nation of origin
  • Citizenship standing
  • Race
  • Nationality
  • Addresses of relations and mates

 

Early passenger lists had been single-page manifests persevering with minimal details about passengers. In a while, standardized varieties had been used and extra questions had been added to them. For instance, in 1897, immigration officers started to ask arrivals for names and addresses of family or mates they’d be becoming a member of who lived within the U.S. In 1907, additionally they requested immigrants to share names and addresses of family or mates of their residence nations.

One of many benefits of this MyHeritage assortment is the truth that the responses to those supplemental manifest questions had been listed. That implies that your search will return outcomes not solely of the passengers, but in addition of the individuals they talked about after they stuffed out these varieties.

One other distinctive characteristic of the MyHeritage assortment is that two-page passenger manifests are stitched collectively. A standard challenge for genealogists researching Ellis Island and different immigration information is that they might discover the primary web page however not the second. On MyHeritage, you’ll be capable of view each pages aspect by aspect in a single picture, guaranteeing that you just gained’t miss any vital info.

Example of a stitched record in Ellis Island and other New York Passenger Lists, 1820–1957

Instance of a stitched document in Ellis Island and different New York Passenger Lists, 1820–1957

 

Pattern information

Given how many individuals went on to do nice issues after getting into America by way of Ellis Island, there isn’t a scarcity of pattern information of extraordinary individuals who handed by way of its doorways.

Right here, for instance, is a document of Albert Einstein’s arrival on October 17, 1933. He sailed to the U.S. aboard the Westernland and ended up staying after he discovered that the Nazis has seized his possessions again residence in Germany. He, in fact, went on to contribute immeasurably to the event of the atomic bomb that ended World Warfare II, in addition to to science normally together with his good theories.

Record of Albert Einstein’s arrival in the U.S., from the Ellis Island and Other New York Passenger Lists collection on MyHeritage

Document of Albert Einstein’s arrival within the U.S., from the Ellis Island and Different New York Passenger Lists assortment on MyHeritage

The document mentions that he got here together with his spouse, and lists :scientist” as his career, in addition to his language as “German,” his nationality as Swiss, and his race as “Hebrew” (an archaic time period for Jewish). It mentions that he lives in Germany and his visa was issued in Berlin, and offers the title and handle of his daughter, “Mrs. Keyser” in Amsterdam, as his nearest relative in his native land. Albert was the truth is born in Germany, however moved to Switzerland in 1895 and gave up his German citizenship on the time. He moved again to Germany in 1914 and regained his German citizenship, however maybe because of the rise of Nazism, most popular to report his Swiss citizenship to the Ellis Island official.

The document additionally lists “Princeton College” because the “relative or pal” he was planning to hitch within the U.S., and it states that he was planning to remain for six months. It even lists his peak — 5’7” — and mentions that his complexion was truthful, his hair grey, and his eyes blue.

One other well-known individual to cross by way of Ellis Island who could be discovered within the MyHeritage assortment is Charlie Chaplin, the well-known comic, actor, filmmaker, and composer. Born in Nice Britain in 1889, he arrived at Ellis Island on October 10, 1912, on the age of 23.

Record of Charlie Chaplin’s arrival in the U.S., from the Ellis Island and Other New York Passenger Lists collection on MyHeritage

Document of Charlie Chaplin’s arrival within the U.S., from the Ellis Island and Different New York Passenger Lists assortment on MyHeritage

The document lists his title as Charles Chaplin, his age as 23, and his career as “actor.” It mentions that he can learn and write and has British citizenship. “Non-immigrant alien” is stamped throughout the “Final Everlasting Residence” part, and it mentions that he was “on tour.” The document lists Sid Chaplin, Charlie’s half-brother who was a author and actor himself, because the actor’s closest of kin in his native land, and consists of Sid’s handle. It states that he possessed $45 and that he had been within the U.S. twice earlier than, in 1905 and 1912, additionally on tour. Beneath the “relative or pal” he’d be visiting within the U.S., it lists Sullivan and Considine, the theater firm he was working with. His complexion and hair colour are described as “darkish” and his eyes blue; his peak is listed as 5’6”. Lastly, it says that he was born in London.

Another instance is the document of Madeleine Albright, who was born Marie Jana Korbelová in Czechoslovakia. She disembarked from the S.S. America at Ellis Island on November 11, 1948, alongside along with her mom Anna and two youthful siblings. She went on to change into the primary feminine U.S. Secretary of State.

Record of Madeleine Albright’s arrival in the U.S. from the Ellis Island and Other New York Passenger Lists collection on MyHeritage

Document of Madeleine Albright’s arrival within the U.S. from the Ellis Island and Different New York Passenger Lists assortment on MyHeritage

This listing mentions her vacation spot within the U.S. in Nice Neck, N.Y., in addition to her age — 11 — and her nationality, Czech. Her mom Anna is listed two pages earlier within the document, and it says that she’s 38 years outdated. Curiously, it says that her youthful sister Anna-Katherine has British citizenship.

As you possibly can see from the examples above, some information are extra detailed than others, however all of them can provide distinctive insights into the story of your loved ones’s travels or immigration journey.

Search the Ellis Island and Other New York Passenger Lists collection now

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