Apr 17

Ellis Island Day

Ellis Island
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Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty
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"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

~ The New Colossus, Emma Lazarus, 1883

Do you have ancestors who went through Ellis Island? Ellis Island, in Upper New York Bay, was the gateway for over 12 million immigrants to the U.S. as the United States' busiest immigrant inspection station for over 60 years from 1892 until 1954. Ellis Island was sometimes known as "The Island of Tears" or "Heartbreak Island" because of those 2% who were not admitted after the long transatlantic voyage. Ellis Island's online digitized records provide fascinating information for those doing ancestry research. A myth persists that government officials on Ellis Island compelled immigrants to take new names against their wishes - in reality, for the most part the immigration inspectors used the passenger lists they received from the steamship companies to process each foreigner, though many last names were altered slightly because of the disparity between English and other languages in the pronunciation of certain letters of the alphabet.

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National Ellis Island Family History Day is held annually on April 17th.  Ellis Island, in Upper New York Bay, was the gateway for millions of immigrants to the United States as the nation’s busiest immigrant inspection station from 1892 until 1924.   It has been estimated that 40% of Americans today can trace at least one ancestor’s entry into the United States through Ellis Island.

 

On this day in 1907, a record  12,000 names were recorded as passing through Ellis Island. 

From 1892 to 1954, more than 12 million immigrants passed through Ellis Island.  Although many Scots arrived during the colonial period of our history – helping to build the new nation – an additional half-million Scots came through Ellis Island.  

The Ellis Island tartan was designed by Matt Newsome, curator of the Scottish Tartans Museum in Franklin, North Carolina, primarily for use by all Americans with ancestors who came to America through Ellis Island, regardless of ethnic origin.

Each color in the tartan symbolizes an essential component of American history: blue, for example, signifies the ocean that reached U.S. shores; copper green reflects the color of the Statue of Liberty; red evokes the bricks of Ellis Island’s buildings; while gold portrays “Golden Door” that is America as immortalized in poem, “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

For a documentary on Ellis Island, click the Statue of Liberty!

Officially registered tartan graphics on this site courtesy of The Scottish Tartans Authority.  Other tartans from talented tartan artists may also be featured.

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