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Lecture

3:3 - Ellis Island

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Department
History
Course
CAS HI 280
Professor
Michael Holm
Semester
Spring

Description
March 3 rd Ellis Island: The Gateway I. Ellis Island a. 1875: U.S. Supreme Court rules in Henderson v. Mayor of New York that  immigration is the responsibility of the Federal Government, in a decision  that is well ahead of reality b. 1890: Federal Gov’t establishes Bureau of Immigration and selects Ellis  Island as site of new immigration station for the port of New York c. 1892: Ellis Island opens, only to be burned down in a fire in 1897 d. 1900: Ellis Island reopens in its present Beaux­Art style e. 12 million pass through from 1892­1954 – roughly half of the immigrants  who came during that time period f. peak years were from 1892­1924 g. 11,747 were processed in one day in 1907 h. quotas begin to restrict immigrants in 1924 i. island is used as a detention center for enemy aliens in 1943 j. closes doors in 1954 k. Statue of Liberty i. originally seen as symbolizing the political ideology of democracy,  not immigration ii. has come to be seen as a symbol of the oppressed l. pre­screening process i. paperwork had to be filed with the ship’s captain, after which cards  were issued containing the passengers’ identity ii. shipping companies were extremely vigilant because they were  held responsible for those who were denied entrance into the  country iii. passengers were required to answer a set of questions in English  which were recorded in the ship’s manifest iv. third class passengers were crammed together like cattle, lacking  specific places to sleep or bathrooms II. Arriving a. screening process (at Ellis Island) i. luggage was handed over upon arrival; immigrants then moved up  a set of staircases leading into the Great Hall, where public health  officials checked for out of breath, limping, etc. ii. in the GH, doctors began the first set of inspections for people:  communicable diseases, mental frailty iii. eye exam: probably the most invasive procedure 1. each person had their eyes examined, usually with a hook  to flip them up 2. trachoma was a common disease in Europe at the time,  highly contagious  b. questioned as to background, political beliefs, health history c. mental screening  d. passengers were marked with chalk based on which “problem” they were  thought to have i. 1/5 were marked, which signified that someone had to be separated  from the others ii. separation could mean hospitalization or deportation e. once all the testing was done, you were allowed to leave the island and, if  you were white, become an American citizen, or else a “bird of passage” f. for most, the process took only a few hours III. Issue of Illness a. 3 major cholera epidemics crossed the Atlant
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