True Immigrant Tales: H.G. Wells Visits Ellis Island

[British novelist H.G. Wells (War of the Worlds) visited Ellis Island in 1906 and described his impressions in his book, The Future in America: A Search after Realities. Here is an excerpt.)  I visited Ellis Island yesterday. It chanced to be a good day for my purpose. For the first time in its history this … More True Immigrant Tales: H.G. Wells Visits 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: Steerage Challenges in Getting Fed

[Steerage conditions varied greatly, depending on the steamship line and the ship’s size, but all were unpleasant to say the least. Below is more testimony from a government inspector, disguised as an immigrant, reporting in 1909 to the Dillingham Immigration Commission about eating facilities on a smaller ship that carried less than 200 immigrants.]             … More True Immigrant Tales: Steerage Challenges in Getting Fed

True Immigrant Tales: Traveling in Steerage

Steerage conditions varied greatly, depending on the steamship line and the ship’s size, but all were unpleasant to say the least. Below is testimony from a government inspector, disguised as an immigrant, reporting in 1909 to the Dillingham Immigration Commission about the poor sanitary conditions on a smaller ship that carried less than 200 immigrants. … More True Immigrant Tales: Traveling in Steerage

True Immigrant Tales: “Are you a polygamist?”

[In 1913, Scottish travel writer Stephen Graham (1884-1975) left Liverpool, England, as a steerage passenger. This is another excerpt from his book, With Poor Immigrants to America (1914). In the previous installment, he described events leading up to his inspection at Ellis Island. Here, he tells of his observations on the island itself.] “Once more, … More True Immigrant Tales: “Are you a polygamist?”

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: Trip from Tipperary in 1920

[This is another in a series of firsthand accounts from my immigrant oral histories collection] “Like many more immigrants like myself, I came to this country to seek a living, because living over there [in Tipperary, Ireland] was very, very poor.  Work was scarce and hard.  I worked on a farm.  I would get up … More True Immigrant Tales: Trip from Tipperary in 1920