Ellis Island

You might wonder why someone would go through all the trouble to write an essay
on immigration. (besides the fact this is an assignment in history) Much of what
we say, eat, and even do is connected to something that an immigrant brought to
this country years ago. Many of the dishes that we as Americans enjoy, such as
pastas, burritos, or even some types of sausages were brought here by Italians,

Mexicans, and Germans. Also much of our everyday language comes from other
languages. This is why immigration is so interesting to me. My main interest in
immigration takes place at a place called Ellis Island. Ellis Island is a small
island in Upper New York Bay, although in New Jersey waters. It is under the
political jurisdiction of New York. From 1892 to 1954 Ellis Island was the

Headquarters of an immigration and naturalization district of the United States.

The early Dutch colonists called the island Oyster Island originally; it was
later known as Gibbet Island, after a private was hanged there in 1765. Samuel

Ellis bought the island in the 18th century and gave it his name. From Ellis

Island it passed to New York State; it was bought from the state by the federal
government in 1808. In 1892, when Castle Garden, the immigration station at the

Battery in lower Manhattan, could no longer handle the flow of immigrants, the
reception headquarters was transferred to Ellis Island. At Ellis Island
immigrants were examined and either admitted or deported. At the height of
it’s activity from 1900 to 1914 Ellis Island station could process 1 million
people a year. Around 1890to 1920 mostly Europeans arrived in Ellis Island.

Whereas at Angel Island in San Francisco Asians were arriving on boats. The
ever-growing numbers taxed the faculty with long lines and overcrowding. Ships
dropped anchors outside the Narrows, where Quarantine officers would come aboard
to check for signs of epidemic diseases. If a ship was free of disease, doctors
would then examine the first and second class passengers, most of whom were
given permission to land as soon as the ship docked. Steerage-class passengers
were ferried to Ellis Island for inspection. "We were put on a barge, jammed
in so tight that I couldn’t turn around, there were so many of us, you see,
and the stench was terrible. And when we got to Ellis Island, they put the
gangplank down, and there was a man at the foot, and her was shouting, at the
top of his lungs, "Put your luggage here. Men this way. Women and children
this way." Dad looked at us and said, "we’ll meet you back here at this
mound of luggage and hope we find it again and see you later." This quote was
by a European immigrant in 1920 by the name of Eleanor Kenderdine Lenhart.

Sometimes new arrivals had to wait aboard their ships for days before being
transferred to Ellis Island. Once there, they were often confined to the
overcrowded barges for hours without food or water, waiting for their turn to
disembark for inspection. The barges chartered by the steamship lines lacked
adequate toilets and lifesaving equipment, they were freezing cold in winter and
unbearably hot in the summer. When disembarking at Ellis Island, some immigrants
were so encumbered with large bundles that they kept their health certificates
handy by clenching then between their teeth. Their assortment of baggage
contained what must have been their most prized but portable belongings:
clothing, feather beds, dinnerware, as well as photographs, family prayer books
and other mementoes of the homeland. The immigrants were all inspected as they
arrived to Ellis Island in different ways. They inspected there mentally and
medically. The medical inspection began as soon as the immigrants ascended the
stairs to the Registry Room. Doctors stationed at the top of the stairs watched
carefully for shortness of breath or signs of heart trouble as the immigrants
climbed up the steps hefting their baggage. U.S. Public Health Service Doctors
sometimes only had six seconds to scan each immigrant during the line
inspection. If a doctor found any indication of diseases, he marked the shoulder
or lapel of the immigrant’s clothing with chalk: "L" for lameness, "E"
for eyes, for example. Marked immigrants, some of them whom had received several
of these mystifying letters, were removed from the inspection line and led to
special examination rooms. There a doctor would check them for the ailment
indicated by the chalk mark and give them a quick overall physical. Many had to
be sent to the hospital for