True Immigrant Tales: After Ellis Island

The travail for immigrants wasn’t limited to the journey and Ellis Island processing. They could still be exploited and/or treated harshly before reaching their final destination as this 1910 report to the Presidential Commission on Immigration reveals. “At Ellis Island, the inspection by the doctors and the officers of the Immigration Service was quickly completed.  … More True Immigrant Tales: After Ellis Island

True Immigrant Tales: Sexual Harassment in Steerage

[Unpleasant steerage conditions often extended to sexual harassment and abuse, as described by a female government inspector, disguised as an immigrant aboard ship, reporting in 1909 to the Dillingham Immigration Commission.] “From the moment we boarded the steamer until we landed, no woman in the steerage had a moment’s privacy. One steward was always on … More True Immigrant Tales: Sexual Harassment in Steerage

True Immigrant Tales: “It Was the Tombstone of Columbus”

[In 1913, Scottish travel writer Stephen Graham (1884-1975) left Liverpool, England, as a steerage passenger. This is an excerpt from his book, With Poor Immigrants to America (1914), in which he described events leading up to his inspection at Ellis Island.]                             … More True Immigrant Tales: “It Was the Tombstone of Columbus”

True Immigrant Tales: Smiling Through the Tears

[Maud Mosher worked for the Indian Health Service for eight years before accepting a position as a matron at Ellis Island. After serving from 1903 to 1907, she left and, in 1910, wrote several articles about her experiences in Coming Nation, a well-known periodical of the times. This is an excerpt.] “It was as surprising … More True Immigrant Tales: Smiling Through the Tears

True Immigrant Tales: Waiting Without Food and Water

[This is Part 2 of American journal Broughton Brandenburg’s account of a 1903 steamship voyage with immigrants in steerage, taken from his book, Imported Americans.] “. . . In mid-afternoon. . . when we reached the slip at Ellis Island we merely tied up, for there were many barge-loads ahead of us, and we waited our … More True Immigrant Tales: Waiting Without Food and Water

True Immigrant Tales: Reaching the Promised Land

[American journalist Broughton Brandenburg traveled on a German steamship with Italian immigrants in October 1903 and wrote about his observations in his book, Imported Americans.  This is part of his account.] “Sunday fell on the 11th, and it was a pleasant day till afternoon, when it began to get rough. The ship’s band was sent … More True Immigrant Tales: Reaching the Promised Land

True Immigrant Tales: “We All Stood There Naked”

[A Czech immigrant woman tells of her journey from Prague to Rotterdam and then in steerage to America in 1920.] “Three days and three nights were spent riding in local trains from Prague to Rotterdam. At Oldenzaal, four stations distant from Rotterdam, all our baggage was taken from without an explanation why this was done. … More True Immigrant Tales: “We All Stood There Naked”